UFC not the only game

Riley Woodford
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As MMA grows by leaps and bounds, it is easy to get lost in the ever-expanding landscape. It is quite easy to keep your eyes on the fighters that grace magazine covers, but there are many fighters that are not as well known, yet are some of the most skilled in the world.

Although the UFC is the top organization, there are fighters with their own reasons for staying away from the UFC.

MMA World - As MMA grows by leaps and bounds, it is easy to get lost in the ever-expanding landscape. It is quite easy to keep your eyes on the fighters that grace magazine covers, but there are many fighters that are not as well known, yet are some of the most skilled in the world.

Although the UFC is the top organization, there are fighters with their own reasons for staying away from the UFC.

First on my list of great unknown fighters is Urijah Faber. The reason he doesn't fight in the UFC is because of his weight class. Faber fights in the featherweight class, which is 136 to 145 pounds. Faber currently holds the featherweight title in the WEC.

Featured on many best pound for pound fighter lists, Faber has a very impressive record of 21-1 with one win being over longtime UFC lightweight star Jens Pulver, and his only loss to current UFC lightweight contender Tyson Griffen. Faber has a well-rounded game of crisp boxing and slick jiu jitsu. Faber beat his jiu jitsu coach after only 2 months of training, pair his natural skill with amazing conditioning and Faber is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.

The next fighter on my list would look like a pushover if you were to see him walking down the road. Miguel Torres, another WEC fighter, is in the bantamweight (120 - 135 pounds) class. Size-wise he's not much to look at, but to get into the cage with him is another story. Much like a tiny buzz saw, Torres has been cutting a path of destruction with a record of 34-1, his only loss was a decision. Torres is known for his brutal muay thai strikes, but moreso for his jiu jitsu. Only a few months ago, in September, Torres earned his black belt in jiu jitsu from the renowned Carlson Gracie Jr.

Next on my list finds us looking over to Japan at lightweight Shinya Aoki. Some may be thrown off by his odd ring attire, which consists of a long pair of brightly coloured pants. Funny pants aside, this little man is a very dangerous human being. Aoki holds a record of 18-3, and has, in my opinion, the submission of the year with his mounted gogoplata (Google this and trust me, you will be impressed) on Katsuhiko Nagata. Aoki has never seen the UFC cage due to the fact he has only ever fought for Japanese based organizations like Pride and Dream. Aoki holds both a black belt in jiu jitsu and also in judo. One of his trademarks is his flexibility, which has been a major asset in his fights. Gogoplatas tend to be a very tricky chokehold to get on another fighter, but with the flexibility that Aoki has, it only takes a second and the fight can be over.

Each of these fighters is well worth your time to check out on YouTube. As the sport keeps growing, there are more and more fighters trying to squeeze into the very tight MMA spotlight. Many in that spotlight now cast very huge shadows. People like Anderson Silva, Chuck Liddell, and Wanderlei Silva come to mind when the sport is brought up, but don't be fooled by the big names as great as they are, the sport has a very deep and rich talent pool.

This talent pool only goes deeper and deeper and as more and more eyes see the sport, there are going to be more and more fighters flooding in looking to prove themselves as the next best pound for pound fighter in the world.

On a side note, I recently lost my grandmother, Vera Woodward. She was a beautiful person in her life and her smile was like a beam of light that could brighten up the darkest day. I hope to see you again someday. I love you and I will miss you.

In closing I would like to say I'm thankful for the people I have in my life and to all my friends and family, thank you for helping me be the person I am today.

Organizations: Google

Geographic location: Japan

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