Well, certain fighters like Nate Diaz are not fans of the UFC signing CM Punk: "I don't dig it, He's got no fights. I know he's a big draw, I looked him up. Everyone's going to buy tickets. It's going to be great for the venue and the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters." Sometimes it's hard to understand the wisdom of a Diaz brother, but in this case, it's hard to argue with Nate's logic. Punk has even gone on record saying that he understands his point of view.
The key word in Diaz's quote is "downgrade." Fighters that have been plugging away for years will now get pushed down the card in order to make room for Punk. The main card is an opportunity for young talent with great records to finally get some exposure. When a celebrity like CM Punk enters the fold, it just pushes them further away from the mainstream audience. This is not an article to demean Punk's ambition (as Michael Landsberg did on TSN's Off The Record this past week), or to criticize the fact that he's pursuing a dream. It's simply to acknowledge the fact that fantastic fighters will continue to slip through the cracks.
The UFC has been put on blast for putting on too many shows, resulting in an over-saturated product. There's some merit to that claim, but there's also some undervalued talent in the UFC that would most likely be wearing gold in other fight promotions. Here are the top 12 undervalued fighters in the UFC!
12 12. Stephen Thompson
11 11. Bethe Correia
Correia has caught the ire of champion Ronda Rousey recently (mind you, it doesn't take much). Reason being, Correia's last two victories have come against Rousey's friends, Jessamyn Duke and Shayna Baszler. After her TKO victory against Baszler, she put two fingers up, signifying that she had taken out two of Rousey's "horsewomen" and that she would be next.
10 10. Dennis Bermudez
9 9. Ricardo Lamas
8 8. Yoel Romero
If you listen closely, you can hear Tim Kennedy complaining about this addition. In an incident at UFC 178, unofficially coined as "stool gate," Kennedy did get shafted out of a win against Romero. In between the 2nd and 3rd round, Romero sat on his stool for an extra 30 seconds. According to the rules, if you can't answer the bell to start the round, you lose the fight. But much to the dismay of Kennedy, the fight was allowed to continue and Romero viciously TKO'ed him. It will go on record as a victory for Romero, adding another win to his 5-0 UFC career.
7 7. Luke Rockhold
Many fans were making the case that "Jacare" Souza deserved the next title shot against Chris Weidman rather than Vitor Belfort. But people forget that Rockhold holds a victory over Souza. He's also won 12 out of his last 13 fights with his only loss coming to Vitor Belfort. It's also unknown if Belfort will be a fraction of the same fighter without being "pharmaceutically enhanced."
His personality is rather dull, and he will never be a Conor McGregor or Chael Sonnen. But, luckily for him, his fighting speaks for itself. In his career, 11 of his 13 wins have come by way of stoppage. This bodes well with the UFC brass, as they've been pretty open in regards to their thoughts about leaving it in the hands of the judges.
6 6. T.J. Dillashaw
T.J. Dillashaw's Featherweight title victory of Renan Barao was the unanimous "feel good" moment of the year. Dillashaw was an insane underdog going into that fight. As a matter of fact, he was the biggest underdog to actually win a title fight since Matt Serra's win over Georges St. Pierre in 2007. Team Alpha Male is one of the most talented MMA teams/camps on the planet, yet they could never get over the hump and bring a title back to their gym. In other words, they were always the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
5 5. Myles Jury
The 26 year old Jury is 15-0 in his career and 6-0 in the UFC. For some reason, his name seems to slip people's minds when discussing contenders in the Lightweight division. It's not as if he's fighting bottom-feeders either, as he's made easy work of Ramsey Nijem and former TUF winner (and top 10 contender) Michael Johnson. He most recently demolished Takanori Gomi. But his most impressive win was against veteran Diego Sanchez, as he basically rag dolled him for three rounds. His only lackluster performance was against Mike Ricci, where he won by split decision. Jury's inability to pull the trigger in that fight is also a testament to how underrated Ricci is, who has since been unfortunately cut by the UFC. This is where some of the frustration lies, as you lose one disputed fight to the #8 ranked guy, and you get served your walking papers. Yet the promotion is bringing in someone with a 0-0 record, but we digress (and exhale)...
4 4. Raphael Assuncao
Not only does Assuncao boast a seven fight win streak, he also holds a win over current champion T.J. Dillashaw. Considering his undefeated streak, and the fact that he's actually beaten the champion, isn't it obvious that he deserves a title shot? You'd think so! But it's not that simple in the UFC. In many ways, Assuncao is his own worst enemy.
3 3. Khabib Nurmagomedov
This is one scary dude, and it would seem that the entire UFC Lightweight division would think so too. Unless your name is Donald Cerrone, there has been a clear reluctance to get in the octagon with Nurmagomedov. He is coming off a win against top contender Rafael dos Anjos (who is on quite the roll himself), but has not fought since April. Despite the layoff, Dana White maintains that Nurmagomedov is next in line to fight current champion Anthony Pettis.
2 2. Carla Esparza
Esparza's whole journey is undervalued and truly unfair when you break it down. This past year, the UFC introduced a Strawweight women's division. They put 16 women that they felt were contenders on The Ultimate Fighter show (many of them former Invicta fighters), and the winner would be crowned champion. Now, something doesn't add up because Invicta already had a Strawweight champion as Carla Esparza defeated Bec Rawlings for the belt. The UFC decided Esparza's win was moot, as they threw her into the house with the other contenders and made her start from scratch. Sweet deal, huh?
1 1. Demetrious Johnson
As Michael Bisping so eloquently put it, "no one cares about little Flyweights." People were repulsed by Bisping's brutal honesty and rushed to the defence of the flyweights. But as it turns out, Bisping was correct, as sadly, nobody cares about little flyweights.
Demetrious Johnson is a phenomenal fighter that currently sits third in the pound for pound rankings. He hasn't lost a fight in nearly four years, and that loss was to Dominic Cruz, who could arguably fight two weight classes above him. He's also essentially cleaned out the Flyweight division, to the point where the UFC brass is scratching their heads as they have no idea who to match him up with next. Despite these incredible accolades, he generates very little interest, as the buy rates are atrocious when he headlines pay per views, thus making him extremely undervalued. But it can't be that bad, can it?
UFC 174, Johnson vs. Bagautinov, generated roughly 115,000 buys, making it the least watched pay per view since UFC 53. That train wreck of a pay per view involved Andrei Arlovski TKO'ing Justin Eilers in the first round, and it took place way back in 2005.
As you can see it's pretty bad, and it's very unfortunate that the flyweights are so undervalued. But it is what it is...despite how big of a jerk Bisping is.
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