Today’s news directly relates to the article I wrote regarding the fact that the middleweight division in the UFC needs a huge kick in the ass. In typical UFC fashion, it seems they are now trying to concentrate on the Middleweight division after helping out the lightweights, welterweights, light heavyweights, and acquiring some decent heavyweights. The usual form of acquiring talent is to use the reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, to bring new talent into the UFC. They will gain exposure to the fans and can essentially promote themselves on the show. Many of the fighters who have come off the show have had fan followings because of their antics inside the TUF house. Chris Leben is a prime example. The middleweights will be the featured fighters in the next Ultimate Fighter season, so get ready for an influx of warriors at that level. But for now, let’s talk about some of the recent moves by the UFC to add some talent to a division that seems to have two horses leading the pack… by huge lengths.
Ricardo “Cachorrao” Almeida signs a six-fight deal
Ricardo Almeida has signed a six-fight deal with the UFC. Almeida is currently 8-2 in mixed martial arts, with a 3-fight stint in the UFC where he received his two losses. He lost by disqualification at UFC 31 to Matt Lindland and by TKO at UFC 35 to Andrei Semenov. Although those low points were fairly early in his career, he does have big wins over Ikuhisa Minowa, Kazuo Misaki, Nathan Marquardt, and Ryo Chonan. Minowa isn’t exactly a great fighter, but Misaki and Chonan were decent tests. Marquardt was dominating Pancrase at the time he was defeated. Almeida is a Brazilian ju-jitsu black belt who has mainly been teaching in Hamilton, New Jersey for the last 3 years.
This is a decent addition to a hurting Middleweight division. I will say that Almeida’s long period without fighting may not bode well for him. He could have some ring rust, however he has still been rolling with people everyday considering he runs his own gym. He is primarily a ju-jitsu ground fighter though, which is somewhat lacking in that division. Some of the top guys right now in the division aren’t exactly known for using their ju-jitsu games event though they possess a background. Silva is a black belt, Franklin a brown belt, and Marquardt has some decent ju-jitsu skills. The interesting part about the acquisition is that it sets up a big rematch between Almeida and Marquardt. If you haven’t seen their Pancrase battle, I recommend it. Almeida choked out Marquardt, but held the choke. After Almeida let go, Marquardt punched Almeida in the face, causing a huge riot to erupt in the ring. He should be a fairly decent test for some of the mid-tier to top-tier fighters in the middleweight division.
“Mayhem” free to negotiate with other organizations
This was a mistake by the UFC. Not only is Jason Miller a decent fighter, but also he’s a promotional dream for an organization that wants to build a fanbase around a fighter. Mayhem literally has one of the bigger fan followings in MMA. His hilarious personality and odd mannerisms spark a lot of interest in him. He has been doing interviews of fighters for ProElite in which his most notable interview with Nick Diaz caused Diaz to get fairly pissed off when he found out Mayhem was making facial expressions as Diaz ranted on. Other notable appearances include his antics during the Shogun vs. Griffin fight and Liddell vs. Jardine battles. He was sitting behind Wanderlei during the fights, showing his trademark Mayhem brass knuckles and making faces toward the camera. His out of the cage personality is definitely something the UFC could have sold.
Mayhem is definitely great during his battles as well. He has grand entrances that fans remember and love. He’s one of the only U.S. fighters in cage promotions that actually self promotes himself as far as entrances and personality goes. A Team Quest fighter with a great ju-jitsu ground game and some Muay Thai striking, he’s beaten some big names in MMA. He holds wins over Denis Kang, Egan Inoue, and Robbie Lawler. He’s definitely a fighter that the UFC could have benefited from both inside and outside the ring. I find it odd that they would hold a grudge because he was working with ProElite. Then again, it’s Zuffa.
Middleweight Division moving up?
As I stated in my previous article, this division needs a change. Adding Almeida is a decent move, but passing on Mayhem Miller was a flat out bad business decision, especially when his personality, promotion skills, and overall good fighting skills are all something the UFC should want. He brings attention to himself and fans love him. With the next Ultimate Fighter show aimed toward Middleweights, will we see some of the guys coming out of the show make an impact immediately? Probably not. It almost seems as if TUF is somewhat aiming toward likeable fighters instead of skill. The recent season has some pretty lackluster guys such as Blake Bowman’s recent beatdown he took. There are a good amount of other fighters that probably should have been on the show. Hopefully the UFC tries to find the best of the best in the middleweights out there. Things are looking up after today.