The talent level in the UFC continues to rise as the sport of MMA evolves. With so much talent fighting for the UFC, there are plenty of great fighters that don’t get the attention that they deserve. A few writers here at MMASucka decided to vote on who we think the most underrated UFC fighters are in each division.
Underrated UFC Fighters
The following writers assisted me in voting on who they feel the most underrated UFC fighters are in each weight class. Be sure to check out all of their great work.
There was only one rule put in place when we placed our votes: no fighters who are in the top ten of their division. Other than that, anyone and everyone was free game. We chose up to three fighters for each division, listed them in order of most underrated to least underrated, and added up the points. The following UFC fighters are who we here at MMASucka feel are the most underrated, and deserve to be talked about more for their talent level.
Women’s Strawweight- Xiaonan Yan
The unranked Xiaonan Yan is an absolute sleeper in the best women’s division in the UFC. At 29 years old, Yan has totaled a career record of 10-1 with one no contest to this point. She entered the UFC with a record of 7-1, and is undefeated in the promotion. Five of her seven wins prior to the UFC came via knockout. Since entering the big stage, all three of her wins have come via unanimous decision. All of Yan’s UFC fights took place on Fight Pass exclusive cards in Asia. That will change at UFC 238, as Yan takes on Angela Hill. On the biggest stage of her career, against the biggest opponent of her career, Yan will get a chance to show a larger crowd what she is capable of and why she’s a dark horse in the strawweight division.
Honorable mentions: Livia Souza, Emily Whitmire
Women’s Flyweight- Gillian Robertson
If there’s one thing that will allow Gillian Robertson to climb into the flyweight rankings, it will be her grappling skills. At just 24 years old, Robertson holds a career record of 6-3. Five of her six wins have come via submission, including an armbar victory over one of our underrated strawweights Emily Whitmire. Coming off of a submission of Veronica Macedo in February, Robertson will be back in action against Sarah Frota at UFC 240 in July. Another finish for Robertson definitely has the potential to move her into the division’s rankings.
Honorable mentions: Andrea Lee, Lucie Pudilova
Men’s Flyweight- Kai Kara-France
Our own rule was broken with this one, as Kai Kara-France is in the top ten of the flyweight division. But, there are only 12 fighters in the division on the rankings, so we can let this one slide. Kara-France is only 26 years old but has an astounding 26 professional fights under his belt. Sporting a 19-7 record, Kara-France’s only loss in the past four years has come to one of Asia’s top flyweights, Tatsumitsu Wada. Since then, Kara-France has rattled off seven consecutive wins, including his first two in the UFC. With the status of the division up in the air, it is a shame for guys like Kai Kara-France, who is an underappreciated fighter and deserves to be able to showcase his skills on the big stage.
Honorable mentions: Alex Perez
Men’s Bantamweight: Manny Bermudez
Manny Bermudez has some of the best grappling in all of the UFC. For proof, look no further than the fact that 11 of his 14 career wins have come via submission. “The Bermudez Triangle” is a legitimate prospect in the bantamweight division, who could easily find himself towards the top of the rankings in the next few years. Bermudez is huge for the division, which is worth noting because he did miss weight by four pounds ahead of his last fight against Benito Lopez. But, Bermudez took care of business and unsurprisingly submitted Lopez in the first round, and earned himself a new UFC contract. If you aren’t yet familiar with the Massachusetts product, learn his name because his stock will only continue to rise.
Honorable mentions: Yadong Song, Marlon Vera, Merab Dvalishvili
Men’s Featherweight: Calvin Kattar
Another Massachussetts product, Kattar is the most underrated boxer in the UFC. He has one of the best jabs in the entire promotion. Kattar burst onto the UFC scene by taking on Andre Fili on short notice, a fight that Kattar won via unanimous decision. From there, Kattar handed Shane Burgos his first lost via third round TKO in what was one of the best fights of 2018. At UFC 223, Kattar did suffer a setback, as he was shut down by Renato Moicano. It was Kattar’s first loss in over eight years. He bounced back impressively, though, as he dismantled Chris Fishgold in the first round of their fight at UFC Fight Night 138 to get back to his winning ways. At UFC 238, Kattar is scheduled to face Ricardo Lamas, in what will surely be one of the best fights of the night. The fight presents Kattar with a chance to crack the featherweight division’s top ten, a place where he deserves to be.
Honorable mentions: Julio Arce, Sheymon Moraes
Lightweight: Nasrat Haqparast
At just 23 years old, lightweight prospect Nasrat Haqparast had already showed flashes of greatness in the octagon. Fighting out of Tristar Gym, the German is 2-1 in the UFC. He lost his debut, but has rebounded to win his last two fights. In his last fight with Thibault Gouti, Haqparast put on a striking clinic en route to a unanimous decision victory and Fight of the Night bonus. Haqparast is athletic, quick on his feet, and a very good striker. He hammered Gouti with huge left hands and combos to both the body and the head. The only thing that has held Haqparast back to this point is his health. He had to pull out of a fight in 2018 due to an eye infection, and injury kept him out of a bout with John Makdessi this past March. Haqparast doesn’t currently have a fight scheduled, but hopefully he can get healthy and introduce himself and his skill set to a bigger audience.
Honorable mentions: Devonte Smith, Gregor Gillespie
Welterweight: Geoff Neal
Geoff Neal doesn’t have the nickname “Handz of Steel” for no reason. Fighting out of Fortis MMA, Neal is a very good boxer who possesses legitimate power in his hands. He earned a UFC contract by securing a first round TKO on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series, and hasn’t looked back. Since then, Neal is 3-0 in the promotion. He submitted Brian Camozzi in his debut and followed that performance up by dominating Frank Camacho before folding him with a second-round head kick KO. After that, Neal took a step up in competition, and defeated Belal Muhammad (who is very underrated in his own right) via unanimous decision. At just 28 years old and with only 13 fights under his belt, there is still plenty of time for Neal to grow in the sport and continue using his power to climb the welterweight division.
Honorable mentions: Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, Vicente Luque
Middleweight: Tom Breese
Former welterweight Tom Breese is a close split decision loss from being undefeated in his young career. Though he only has one fight at middleweight, Breese definitely has the skill set to make a name for himself in the division. The Tristar product has great grappling skills, but is no slouch in the striking department. Of his ten career wins, four have come via KO/TKO while six have come via submission. The former BAMMA champion had to pull out of a scheduled fight with Ian Heinisch due to an anxiety attack. When he gets his health right, be on the lookout for Tom Breese in the middleweight division.
Honorable mentions: Ian Heinisch, Brad Tavares
Light Heavyweight: Jimmy Crute
Jimmy “The Brute” Crute is an exciting prospect in every sense of the phrase. At just 23 years old, the undefeated Australian has shown sky-high potential each time he has stepped in the octagon. Crute earned his contract by scoring a first round knockout on the Contender Series. In his UFC debut, the Brute defeated Paul “the undefeated prospect killer” Craig with a first round kimura. At UFC 234, Crute defeated Sam Alvey via a first round TKO. Despite the controversial stoppage, Crute showed promise in the striking department, specifically with his utilization of diverse kicks. He showed a little bit of grappling, too, as a scramble is what put him into position to land the ground-and-pound and secure the stoppage.
Honorable mention: Magomed Ankalaev
Heavyweight: Sergei Pavlovich
Russian striker Sergei Pavlovich is largely underrated due to his disappointing UFC debut. But, Alistair Overeem‘s devastating clinch game is a tough match-up for anyone, especially a striker making his debut. Early in the fight, before Overeem forced the clinch, Pavlovich was able to connect on some big shots from range. Pavlovich definitely benefited from fighting the tough competition, as he returned and knocked out Marcelo Golm just 1:06 into their fight at UFC Fight Night 149. Pavlovich was given a little more than he could handle in his debut, but his great striking will allow him to slowly ascend into the heavyweight rankings.
Honorable mention: Jairzinho Rozenstruik
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