by Damon Martin
What makes a fighter great? Big wins, of course. Great skill, maybe so. But one thing is for sure, fans can build up and tear down a fighter just as quickly as a great right hook or a devastating armbar. The great thing about it is so many fans have a love/hate relationship with some of the amazing athletes that are in the world of mixed martial arts, and it’s fun to stir the pot with new discussions. What better way than a short list of some of the most underrated…and most overrated fighters in the world today.
Andrei Arlovski: Now, I’m sure that a lot of fans will flip out when they see this pick, but nothing the guy has done in the last year has impressed me enough to believe he is the great heavyweight champion the UFC has been searching for. His biggest win to date was a quick submission over Tim Sylvia, and I don’t think that’s a very big win at all. He’s mauled smaller fighters like Vladdy Matyushenko and Ian Freeman and his once impressive win over Cabbage Correira looks a lot less impressive with the way that Cabbage has performed as of late. When someone finally takes the fight to Arlovski and pushes him around the octagon a little bit, maybe I’ll buy this guy, but as of yet, I don’t see it.
Joe Riggs: Somehow he got a huge fan base because of his brash attitude and trash talking skills, but I don’t think he’s even a top 5 guy in the UFC middleweight division yet. He’s got some solid wins under his belt, but Ivan Salaverry pretty much made a blueprint on how to handle the overly aggressive Riggs. I think Riggs will best be served to take on other strikers like Patrick Cote or hold out hopes that
Lee Murray ever gets his visa fixed, because I think he’ll struggle against a ground fighter with the skills of a Matt Lindland or Evan Tanner.
Lee Murray: Speaking of Lee Murray…to quote Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?”. This guy has out lived his 15 minutes of fame from his scuffle with Tito Ortiz and since then has shown nothing but a tendency to run in with the law. He holds two solid wins in his career, one of them against a legitimate top 15 guy in Jorge Rivera and don’t come around with Pele, cause he hasn’t been competitive in years. He was able to withstand a few rounds with Anderson Silva and that’s to his credit. The biggest thing that Murray has going for him is a fan base around MMA forums like nobodies business! But even that has to fade at some point, and my guess it will be before we ever see him fight outside of the U.K. again.
Nathan Quarry: I’m sorry to say it, but somehow Nate Quarry has gotten a big reputation from very little accomplished. Will he be a great fighter one day? Maybe. But the truth is, he’s not there quite yet. He beat Shonie Carter, which is a great win, but for as much hype as he’s got around him, this guy has a whole lot to live up to. He may not have asked for the attention, but now the spotlight is on him and I think Pete “Drago” Sell will be a great test for his second fight out. All of the fighters for “The Ultimate Fighter” have a target on their back, and Quarry is no exception.
Frank Mir: That’s a tough one for me to say, because as fighters go, Frank Mir is one of the nicest and most genuine people out there. He’s a true student of the game and if not for his motorcycle accident, he very well may have been on his way to greatness. That said…it’s been over a year since he’s stepped foot in the ring/octagon and somehow he’s still considered a top 5 heavyweight. He’s in the same boat as Arlovski with a lack of competition complex. He holds wins over Tim Sylvia and Tank Abbott, but the one guy that really pushed him was Ian Freeman and we all know what happened there. He’s not overrated on talent, but he may be overrated in rankings.
Ricardo Arona: This guy has done nothing but win for the longest time and if not for his unfortunate loss to Quinton Jackson, he may have gotten his shot at Wanderlei a while ago. He’s a phenomenal ground fighter and has shown solid stand-up as well. He gets described a lot as “boring” and as a “lay-n-pray” fighter, but the truth is that he knows how to win…and that goes a long way in this sport. Arona may finally get the respect he’s due if he can make it to the finals of the Grand Prix. He won’t have an easy road to tread as he will most likely face off against either the afore mentioned Silva or his teammate, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the next round.
Joe Doerksen: His one loss in the UFC was a devastating loss, but somehow the rest of Joe Doerksen’s record gets lost in translation. He holds wins over many fan favorites like Lee Murray and Chris Leben and still so many people forget his name when mentioning the top 185lb fighters in the world. If the UFC is smart, they will bring Doerkson back sooner rather than later and set him up against the winner of Salaverry/Marquardt.
Nick Diaz: Since he’s been in the UFC, Diaz just continues to prove himself as one of the top welterweights in the world. Although he’s on many lists as a top 10 fighter, I truly don’t believe that this guy gets the respect he’s due. He’s obviously got tremendous jiu-jitsu skills, but his stand-up is pretty scary as well. He’s a very smart fighter and I think he may pose the biggest threat to Matt Hughes seemlingly untouchable title reign
Sergei Kharitonov: I was almost ready to drop him from this list as he’s gained quite a bit of notoriety after beating Pedro Rizzo last week, but I still think a lot of people are looking past Kharitonov. His stand-up and footwork are simply flawless and his ground game is pretty good as well. I think he may be the best candidate to unseat the winner of Fedor/CroCop and if he ever slips through the cracks from Pride and the UFC has the opportunity to grab him, he may be the real Russian threat to take the heavyweight title to the next level.
Anderson Silva: Yeah, he’s almost on everyone’s top 5 list for middleweights, but since he hasn’t fought in Pride in a while somehow he’s faded from the spotlight that he so richly deserves. He struggles sometimes when the fight goes to the ground, but he is bar none, the best striker in the middleweight division. No one even comes close when it comes to the stand-up game in MMA, and there are some great strikers out there. Anyone that decides to stand with Silva usually ends up on the bad end of one of his razor sharp knee strikes and with wins over Jeremy Horn, Carlos Newton, and Jorge Rivera, his record speaks for itself. The UFC would be greatly served to pick up this free agent and put him in the octagon.
So there’s the list…sure some picks are controversial and some are just down right mean, but that’s the way of the game. All of the guys on the list, good or bad, deserve a ton of respect and in no way is this a knock on their skill or heart to fight in this great sport. I just call them the way I see them.