As we all know many of the best fighters on the planet ply their trade inside the UFC’s octagon, but in many people’s minds, the UFC cannot claim to have all the best fighters on the planet. With former Bellator world champion Eddie Alvarez’ UFC debut coming this weekend, there is no better time to have a look at some other Bellator athletes that should get the call to the UFC very soon.
Michael Chandler 12-2
Former Bellator lightweight champion may be on a two fight losing skid, but could still possibly be the best lightweight in the world today.
The Alliance MMA product has 10 stoppages to his name and is a two time Strikeforce and nine time Bellator veteran. Within this stellar record, Chandler has a submission win against Eddie Alvarez, where he captured the Bellator lightweight world title. This fight is still considered one of the best in Bellator history, with Alvarez nearly being KO’d in the opening seconds of the fight until he rallied back to make it a back and forth contest eventually succumbing in the fourth round to the relentless Chandler.
After two title defences, one ending in under a minute, Chandler and Alvarez rematched for the title in a fight that fans around the world hoped would live up to the majesty first contest. The rematch surpassed all expectations and was again regarded as one of the best fights Bellator had ever seen. The rematch went Alvarez’ way by split decision, giving Michael Chandler his first loss in his twelve fight career.
When Alvarez pulled out of a third fight due to concussion, Chandler took on Will Brooks for the interim belt. In another razor close fight, Chandler lost by split decision to the underdog losing his shot at another rematch with Eddie.
Despite losing his last two bouts, you could easily make the argument for Chandler winning those fights, and being undefeated in his career so far. Whether you agree with that or not, it is undeniable that Chandler has earned a shot at the big time and getting the respect and attention he deserves.
In my opinion, Michael Chandler could hang with any fighter in the UFC’s top ten and it is inevitable that he will fight in the world’s biggest promotion one day in his career.
Eduardo Dantas 16-3
The current Bellator bantamweight champion, Eduardo ‘Dudu’ Dantas is a Brazilian phenom training out of the notorious Nova Uniao team with Jose Aldo and Renan Barao and he is well on his way to the heights of his training partners.
Dantas is a BJJ blackbelt with surprising knockout power for his slight frame. His athleticism and speed have brought him all the way to the top of the Bellator 135lb division and with two title defences under his belt; he is more than qualified to be a big name in the UFC.
Dudu’s only blemish since a featherweight loss in 2009, is a shocking KO loss to unknown Tyson Nam in the Brazilian Shooto promotion, but since then he has stopped both Marcos Galvao by KO and most recently Anthony Leone by an extremely slick rear naked choke.
Dantas is on a long layoff since March, but he is scheduled to unite his bantamweight title against interim champ Joe Warren in October. If Dantas can get passed the aging Warren he should be aiming for a UFC shot, but at only 25 years old, Eduardo isnt in any rush to premier in the octagon.
Patricio Freire 22-2
Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire has had some major bad luck in his Bellator career, but after finally besting Pat Curran earlier this month and capturing the featherweight title in the process, Freire is finally realising his full potential.
Before becoming champion, the 27 year old Brazilian has stormed through every fighter that has come in his way in Bellator getting all the way to a featherweight title fight twice. This is where the bad luck struck for Pitbull, as he lost both of those title fights by split decision to stellar talent in Joe Warren and Pat Curran.
After having two losing efforts at a title, many fighters would try their hand at fighting in maybe a different organisation, or different weight class, but Freire persevered and earnt his way to a third title shot beating out four contenders with three KO finishes. Freire met Curran again at Bellator 123 and this time was able to take the unanimous decision nod to finally become world champion.
Despite a rematch with Curran, there is really no other match-ups left for Freire in Bellator having already beaten pretty every other named challenger in the organisation, for me, this means Freire should look for a shot at the UFC.
It is very easy to argue that this man could be undefeated at 24-0 in his career with 16 finishes. That is a record that beats most featherweights on the planet, and although he hasn’t fought very many UFC calibre fighters in his career, I think the young Brazilian has proven that he is a beast at 145lbs and a test for any man in the UFC.
Douglas Lima 26-5
The reigning Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima may be recently over shadowed by his younger brother competing on The Ultimate Fighter, but make no mistake about it, Douglas is arguably one of the top ten welterweights on the planet.
Holding a record of 26-5 with 23 finishes, Lima is probably the most exciting fighter Bellator has to offer. Lima has won his last five outings, all by KO, and two by head kick. This is a feat that is hard to match in the UFC let alone in Bellator, and with his last effort winning him the world title, Lima is finally showing the world that he should be up there with the best fighters at 170lbs.
Despite only winning the title in April, and having no title defences, Lima doesn’t have a long list of challengers waiting for him. Since coming into Bellator in 2011, Lima has finished seven fights by KO, two of those being against recently UFC signed Ben Saunders. With Saunders getting a UFC shot, and there being no one else for Lima to fight in Bellator, he must be screaming for a shot at the UFC, and being such a high finish and exciting fighter, it is only a matter of time before his Bellator contract is up, and the UFC snatch him for their roster.