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MMA: UFC Whom to Watch For
With the UFC being this ever expanding umbrella of fighting talent now with addition of more weight classes, I decided to name a few guys who have upcoming fights in the near future that I think you should watch out for. These guys have impressive resumes but are consistently overlooked when the top of their respective weight classes is talked about for one reason or another. I thought about making an “underrated” list, but I guess fighting on the biggest stage in the fastest rising sport in the world makes it difficult to claim being underrated, right?
Jim Miller (20-2) – To me, Jim Miller is the ultimate “blue collar” type of fighter. He’s not flashy or overly athletic, yet he consistently gets better and beats guys at their own game. He knocked out the hard-hitting Kamal Shalorus when Shalorus absorbed head shots better than most zombies would in previous fights, and then he went and submitted Brazilian jiu-jitsu whiz Charles Oliviera with a beautifully executed knee bar while Oliviera was going for a submission of his own.
Do you know who has more wins than Miller since he came into the organization in 2008? Nobody. Not Anderson Silva; not even Georges St. Pierre can match Miller’s nine wins in his three year span. The only two losses in Miller’s career have come at the hands of the Frankie Edgar (current champ) and Gray Maynard (the only man to beat the current champ). Miller’s a tough, crafty New Jersey guy with a good wrestling background and an ability to learn quickly while improving with every fight. He’ll be in action again on Aug. 14 against former WEC champ Ben Henderson. You’ll want to catch that one and see if he gets No. 10.
Brian Bowles (9-1) – Brian Bowles may look like an extra nerdy version of Mark Wahlberg, but the 135-pound fighter is as tough as nails and packs a big punch. Bowles’ only loss came at the hands of current champ Dominick Cruz in a bout in which Bowles withdrew because of a broken hand, ultimately surrendering his title. Bowles is known by most for his unlikely ending of Miguel Torres’ impressive 17-fight win streak in absolutely brutal fashion to win the bantamweight title. The Georgia native has had issues with a broken hand, but when he’s healthy he’s shown uncanny KO power to go along with a very opportunistic submission game.
If Bowles can take out the rugged veteran Takeya Mizugaki on July 2 then he won’t be too far off from another shot at regaining his status as 135-pound champ.
Dong Hyun Kim (14-0-1) – Dong Hyun Kim (say that three times fast) or “Stun Gun” as he’s affectionately known by his fans is a guy who continually scores “upset” wins in the UFC. The only reason they are upsets are because people don’t give him the credit he deserves as a fighter. A judo black belt, Kim uses impeccable timing in the clinch and textbook technique to get his opponents on the ground. Once Kim gets his opponent down, they tend to stay there, and his smothering style is visibly frustrating to his foes. He hasn’t flashed the same power he once did, but his control in clinches and on the ground is fantastic, and he looks way too strong to be 170 pounds.
Injuries before pivotal fights have kept Kim flying under the radar, but if he can pull off one of his trademark upsets of Carlos Condit (a notoriously slow starter) on July 2nd then his recognition should go through the roof.
Rick Story (13-3) – Rick Story just looks like a mean kid. He reminds me of Spike Hammersmith from Little Giants. Story probably landed on quite a few people’s watch lists about three weeks ago not for his role in a football movie, but with an impressive upset of powerful striker Thiago Alves. “Horror” Story used his overpowering wrestling and a relentless pace against Alves to counter his repertoire of flashy kicks and powerful punches. What’s more impressive for Story is that his striking has improved each time out, and if his stand up game can begin to match the power he uses in his wrestling, then opponents are in for bad times.
Story’s big win has propelled him to the fast track into title contention, as he was named an injury replacement for Anthony Johnson against Nate Marquardt on June 26. Marquardt is as well rounded as anyone Story has ever fought, and he’s almost certainly got more big fight experience than anyone on his resume as well. To me, this is a win/win for Story unless he gets absolutely crushed. If he loses a tough fight, no big deal because he stepped in on short notice against an elite fighter. If he wins it’s another huge upset against a top fighter and another reason to pit him up against the best, or at the very least a contender fight.
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