Monday, July 6, 2009

The UFC 100: The Fantastic 40's

With the upcoming declaration of #50 in the UFC 100, we officially reach the midway point of the list. What have you thought so far?

Fifty fighters of differing popularity, success, pedigree and abilities remain after the midway point and the debates are only going to get better. Now, we're getting into that territory where your favorite fighter's name might appear and it might be too low for your liking.

In fact, I hope it is ... seriously, I love debates.

50. Mark Kerr
UFC Record: 4-0
Victories Over: Guys You Don't Know

Kerr is one of the fighters I found hardest to rank in this list. On one hand, he went undefeated in the UFC, earning the Heavyweight Tournament title at both UFC 14 and UFC 15. On the other hand, if I told you the guys he beat (Moti Horenstein, Dan Bobish, Greg Stott and Dwayne Cason) you would look at me like I'm talking Klingon, and with good reason. The result: Fighter #50.

49. Josh Koscheck
UFC Record: 10-4
Victories Over: Yoshiyuki Yoshida, Chris Lytle, Diego Sanchez

If he's not there already, Koscheck has a long career ahead of him as the UFC Welterweight division's gatekeeper and his track record proves it. Outside of the win over Diego Sanchez, the TUF 1 alum comes up short against the upper tier (GSP, Thiago Alves) but is more than a handful for anyone else. Great wrestling and a love affair with his striking make him a perfect candidate for the job Matt Hughes so desperately doesn't want.

48. Thiago Alves
UFC Record: 9-2
Victories Over: Josh Koscheck, Matt Hughes, Karo Parisyan

Georges St-Pierre's toughest competition to date has been steamrolling people for the last three years, last taking a loss in June 2006 to Jon Fitch. The American Top Team member has had a couple of run-ins with weight issues, but on the whole, Alves has proven time and again that he is a handful inside the cage.

47. Mike Swick
UFC Record: 9-1
Victories Over: Marcus Davis, Joe Riggs, Ben Saunders

This is what happens when you change weight classes mid-stream; you have to go back down the ladder and fight your way up, so while your record is impeccable, the level of competition isn't the same as some fighters have faced. Get Win #10 over Martin Kampmann in September and we'll talk.

46. Nate Marquardt
UFC Record: 7-2
Victories Over: Wilson Gouveia, Martin Kampmann, Jeremy Horn

One loss came to a guy who literally beats everyone (Anderson Silva) and the other came through point deductions helping the other guy (Thales Leites). Other than that, Nate Marquardt has made quick work of some very talented opponents and has a chance to put an end to Demian Maia's winning streak inside the Octagon at UFC 102 in August.

45. Yushin Okami
UFC Record: 7-1
Victories Over: Dean Lister, Evan Tanner, Mike Swick

The red-headed stepchild of the UFC Middleweight division, no one knows what to do with Okami. He's as talent a fighter as they come and has beaten everyone Joe Silva has put in front of him, save for Rich Franklin, but he can never stay healthy long enough to get the title shot many believe he truly deserves.

44. Carlos Newton
UFC Record: 3-4
Victories Over: Pete Spratt, Pat Miletich

Everyone remembers Carlos Newton for one thing: the power bomb. What they might not remember is that Newton was the defending Welterweight champion in that fight, having beaten Pat Miletich earlier in the year for the belt. Long before Rampage was doing the same to Ricardo Arona, Newton was on the receiving end of a Matt Hughes power bomb to end his reign as champion.

43. Kevin Randleman
UFC Record: 4-3
Victories Over: Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Renato Sobral

Randleman could have been one of the greats in my opinion, but injuries, suspensions and controversy prevented it from happening. In seven UFC fights, "The Monster" beat a former HW champ (Smith), earned the heavyweight title over Petey Williams and gained victories over the previously ranked "Babalu" and the very tough Pedro Rizzo. Those three losses? Bas Rutten, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell.

42. Tank Abbott
UFC Record: 8-10
Victories Over: Paul Varelans, Steve Jennum

Long before he made a guest appearance on Friends or "fought" for WCW, Tank Abbott was as dangerous as they came inside the cage. That is, if the other guy was willing to stand and trade. Abbott could knock anyone out, but as his brief list of notable wins and extensive list of namebrand losses shows, if you made it more than a street fight, chances are you got the best of one of the true UFC originals.

41. Diego Sanchez
UFC Record: 10-2
Victories Over: Clay Guida, Joe Stevenson, Joe Riggs

I know what you're thinking - a guy already ranked here today beat him (Koscheck) and he's switched weight classes like another (Swick), so how is Diego Sanchez ranked so high? Unlike Swick, Sanchez walked into the lightweight division and beat Top 10 competition right off the bat. As for the Koscheck loss, I'll say this: Sanchez destroyed Kenny Florian to become The Other Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner and we haven't seen Ken-Flo on this list yet.

Only 40 more fighters to go. Any early predictions on the Top 10? Top 5? #1?

Track back to see what you missed with the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.

History is only five days away.

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