The UFC is the premier fight organization ever since the MMA scene was monopolized by Zuffa. They’ve been able to acquire Pride eliminating the toughest competition out there. But of course, let’s admit that there are still a lot of talents out there that work for other organizations. Bellator, ONE and WSOF are still present to this day. Whether it is because of fighter’s pay or the Reebok deal, there are fighters switching organizations. Here are the top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC!
10. Lowen Tynanes
It is unfair to call Lowen Tynanes a big fish in a small pond. At age 25, Lowen Tynanes has been fighting for ONE since 2011. Tynanes was able to beat the tough Koji Ando and he could probably be next in line for the ONE championship against the tough and technical Shinya Aoki. Koji Ando is a solid contender who was able to defeat former UFC fighter Roger Huerta.
Lowen Tynanes is hoping to solidify his presence once he faces Shinya for the ONE championship title. Is Lowen’s incredible wrestling be able to beat Aoki’s elusive style? Or is Aoki really too tough for the young Hawaiian?
According to Tynanes prior to his fight against Koji Ando, the UFC remains his ultimate dream as a fighter, but he is open to different options. His unblemished record, not to mention caliber of competition can make him a possible future UFC star. But for now, Asian MMA scene is going to enjoy a possible Tynanes-Aoki encounter.
9. Bibiano Fernandes
Dubbed as the “Flash” because of his lightning fast combinations inside the cage or in the ring, Bibiano Fernandes is an underrated MMA fighter who competed in different organizations including Dream and ONE. He is considered the top bantamweight who competed outside UFC. What made him in our list of top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC is his ability on the ground.
Bibiano Fernandes is the current bantamweight champion of ONE. However, he is also known as a world champion in BJJ. One of his latest victims inside the cage was Kevin Belingon, a Filipino striker known for his deadly kicks and infinite cardio.
See Also: Top 10 Best Boxers of All Time.
8. Shinya Aoki
Shinya Aoki is currently competing in both Rizin and ONE championship. He is competing as a lightweight and is considered by many as the best 155 pounder outside the UFC. There are a lot of question to Aoki’s career. According to some pundits, they find Aoki’s attitude disrespectful especially after winning his bouts. Fight fans have witnessed Aoki celebrate excessively and even raising the middle finger to his opponent.
Another topic for debate is that Aoki may have avoided getting into the UFC. He could’ve faced the likes of BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, but he simply settled in other smaller organizations. But does he deserve to be considered as part of the top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC? Definitely, yes.
7. Melvin Guillard
Melvin Guillard is considered part of our top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC because of his ability to wrestle and trade punches with anyone in his division. Unfortunately, because of the UFC’s stacked lightweight division, talent like Melvin Guillard may sometimes get thrown out of the picture.
Though considered a gatekeeper in the UFC, he was able to take on some of the best names in the business including Gleison Tibau, Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone.
Melvin Guillard used to be a UFC prospect who could’ve been in line for the title. Unfortunately, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and BJ Penn are among the names that have since dominated the division for quite some time. After his loss to Michael Johnson, he decided to jump to different organizations including WSOF and Bellator.
See Also: Top 10 Female MMA Fighters.
6. Jon Fitch
Jon Fitch is the epitome of a gritty MMA fighter. He was able to fight for the title against GSP, only to fall short. Today, Jon Fitch is competing at WSOF. This American Kickboxing Academy prospect is far from over even after his career in the UFC.
Jon Fitch is an alumnus of the very first Ultimate Fighter along with Forest Griffin, Josh Koscheck, and Diego Sanchez. When he dropped to welterweight, it was a great decision for his career. He was able to defeat Luigi Fioravanti and Diego Sanchez and eventually fought George St. Pierre in 2008 for the title. Though he failed to be crowned a welterweight champion for the UFC, he remained a relevant name in MMA even after his UFC career.
5. Rousimar Palhares
Known for his leg attacks and mercurial temper, Rousimar Palhares started in the UFC as an underrated grappler who fought Dan Henderson. Nicknamed as Toquinho, he was banned from the UFC after refusing the let go of his heel hook when he fought in welterweight.
WSOF took Rousimar Palhares and gave him a chance to prove his skills in their organization. With a number of former UFC athletes within the organization as well, Palhares was able to shine in welterweight. He was able to catch Jon Fitch with a submission and Jake Shields. Unfortunately, he was defeated in his last fight against Meek.
Palhares also made an appearance in different submission wrestling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments. He had notable fights against Andre Galvao in ADCC and Gary Tonon in Polaris.
See also: Top 10 UFC Matches of All Time.
4. Jake Shields
Jake Shields is probably the best jiujitsu player who transitioned to MMA. He was able to defeat the likes of Demian Maia and Tyron Woodley. He was defeated by Hector Lombard before making a jump into WSOF.
We included Jake Shields in our list of top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC for his ability to mix and adapt striking and wrestling with his superb ground game. Just like Palhares, he was able to participate in submissions only tournaments. He joined both Metamoris and Polaris in separate occasions.
Jake Shields has a number of victories to a number of UFC fighters including Dan Henderson in his short stint in Strikeforce. Also, he has been able to beat Robbie Lawler in Strikeforce.
3. Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is a colorful character in the MMA. What made him in our list of top 10 MMA fighters outside UFC is his ability to deliver powerful punches and kicks to his opponents. He is also an underrated grappler, since he also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
He was once a member of the Chutebox Academy, the same team where Wanderlei and Shogun Rua came from. These days, he trains under the Blackzilians together with the likes of Rashad Evans.
Thiago Silva made his debut in UFC 71. He had notable fights against Houston Alexander, Lyoto Machida and Brandon Vera.
After his career in the UFC, he was signed to WSOF. Unfortunately, his fight against Teddy Holder was a disaster. He was supposed to fight a rematch against Matt Hamill, only to get replaced in short noticed. Though Silva was the favorite, he lost via TKO.
Because of his temperament, Thiago Silva wasn’t free from controversy. From failed drug tests to his life outside the cage, Thiago Silva was hounded by controversies. He threatened Pablo Popovich who was having an affair with his then estranged wife. Thiago Silva was then arrested.
See Also: Top 10 Controversial Boxing Decisions.
2. Ben Henderson
Ben Henderson is currently competing at Bellator. He managed to capture both the UFC and the WEC titles in separate occasions. After suffering a defeat in the hands of Anthony Pettis in the last WEC show, he later managed to capture the UFC lightweight title. He was able to fight Frankie Edgar for the title in 2012 in an exciting match which resulted getting Fight of the Night bonuses.
What makes Ben Henderson worthy of being part of the top 10 MMA fighters outside the UFC is his ability to have a well-balanced overall game. He was also able to defeat some of the top lightweights including Gilbert Melendez. He is tied with BJ Penn for the most number of title defenses for lightweight.
After his career in UFC, he managed to fight for the Bellator welterweight title only to lose a unanimous decision. If he gets the Bellator title in the future, he will be the first person to secure a championship in WEC, UFC and Bellator.
1. Ben Askren
Ben Askren is currently the welterweight champion for ONE. There were a lot of talks about getting him signed into the UFC, but these rumors never really materialized. Currently having an undefeated record, he was able to win the Bellator title and the ONE title.
But of course, despite his wrestling pedigree and superb techniques, a lot of fans still question Askren’s ability to stand with some of the best welterweights in the UFC. In his last match against Aleksakhin in Manila, though he was able to take the fight where he wants it, he was out punched by the Russian raising questions regarding his ability to trade punches.
Despite UFC’s monopoly in MMA, there are still a number of talented fighters that found themselves in different organizations. In fact, this isn’t surprising especially after Zuffa’s deal with Reebok. A lot of athletes felt that they lost a good amount of money from the lack of sponsors. Are we going to see more fighters jump to other organizations in the near future? This is a possibility especially in the current landscape of the UFC.
Best MMA Fighters Outside The UFC
- Ben Askren
- Ben Henderson
- Thiago Silva
- Jake Shields
- Rousimar Palhares
- Jon Fitch
- Melvin Guillard
- Shinya Aoki
- Bibiano Fernandes
- Lowen Tynanes