There is no arguing that the UFC is usually the promotion all mixed martial artists want to end up fighting for. After all, this is where the money is and it is the best place to prove to the world that you are the best by trying to beat the best. There are promotions outside of Zuffa that built stars with raw talent before the UFC got their hands on them, though. Promotions like Strikeforce, WEC, PRIDE, K-1 and even Bellator have made fighters household names. When those fighters try to transition to the UFC, most flounder and some flourish. Join us as we take a look at some of the most impressive imports the UFC has seen from other promotions.
At UFC 157, Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche introduced to mainstream media what women’s mixed martial arts was all about. In Strikeforce, the ladies put on amazing fights left and right and while they didn’t consist of knockouts and knockdowns, the fights displayed amazing skill and finesse; the bouts were downright exciting. The fight last Saturday was no different. Carmouche and Rousey came out very active with no feeling out process, and within minutes Carmouche had Rousey’s back. It looked as if all was over while Rousey’s neck was getting cranked, but she persevered and proved how tough she was by escaping the hold and ending up on the offensive side of things seconds after. It wasn’t long until Carmouche’s arm was getting torqued the opposite direction it was supposed to bend due to Rousey’s signature arm bar, having no other choice but to tap out soon after. The fight was the most exciting on the main-card and put women’s mixed martial arts on the map.
Coming from the same promotion as Ronda Rousey, Robbie Lawler had almost no media attention compared to Ronda Rousey. Lawler was shaky, at best, against top competition in Strikeforce and was put up against one of the top welterweight’s UFC had to offer in Josh Koscheck. When the bout was announced, Koscheck was immediately labeled the heavy favorite and Lawler was given no chance in hell at winning. People said the only chances he had at winning was if he landed a “lucky shot”. Little did they know all it took was a shot to send Koscheck on his back, leading to Lawler following him with punches in tow. Whether or not the shot was lucky has yet to be determined, but it sure as hell was an impressive re-debut from the “Ruthless” one.
Casual fans would describe the first few fights this past Saturday as “boring”. Diehards would appreciate the intricacies of the grappling and probably loved the neutralizing of offense with amazing defense. One thing no mixed martial arts fan would deny, though, was how much of a breath of fresh air Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve’s fight was. Hunt has been putting on exciting fight after exciting fight since his debut against Sean McCorkle at UFC 119 back in 2010. Even though it was a losing effort, White appreciated the fortitude Hunt put forth and offered him another fight. Since then, Hunt has been tearing through competition with relative ease. Hunt is currently riding a four-fight win streak (with two Knockout of the Night bonuses) that is making him the Cinderella story of the heavyweight division. Two of his wins came in dramatic fashion when he demolished both Cheick Kongo and Stefan Struve with walk-off knockouts. His punching prowess and skill didn’t come out of nowhere, however. He doubled as a kickboxing world champion. Holding a record of 30-13 (surprisingly not that impressive in the world of kickboxing), Hunt held victories over legends Jerome Le Banner and Stefan Leko and won the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix. As one of the top imports from K-1’s kickboxing world, Hunt still has the potential to have a very bright future in the UFC.
Come back next week for part two of “Impressive Imports”. Who do you think deserves to be on the list?