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The Top 5 Underrated Fighters in MMA


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Underappreciated + Underexposed = Underrated.

It's a simple formula that describes a host of current MMA fighters who are simply not receiving the proper dap they deserve.

With so many organizations and fighters scattered throughout the globe it is understandable a few are not properly valued at an ideal level.  

These men may be familiar names to hardcore fans; however, they remain outside the purview of the mainstream to varying degrees.

Without further ado, here are five of the most underrated fighters in the sport:

 

5) Evan Dunham - UFC - (11 - 0)

Four up and four down for Dunham in his brief UFC tenure.

He is coming off his most impressive win to date, defeating Xtreme Couture teammate Tyson Griffin in June at UFC 115 via split decision. Had it not been for a rogue judge it would have been correctly scored as unanimous.

It was a thorough domination of the 10-fight UFC veteran Griffin by embracing his reach advantage, effective counter punching, and displaying superior grappling.

Since then, however, he has been lost in the shuffle a bit by fellow lightweights like Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn, Gray Maynard, Kenny Florian, and even Takanori Gomi and George Sotiropoulos to a certain degree.

Despite his growing resume he remains a blip on the radar screen.

A win over former UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk on September 25 at UFC 119 would go a long way in cementing his status as a credible commodity and future title challenger.

 

4) Hector Lombard - Bellator - (27 - 2 - 1)

If your local Fox Sports Net affiliate has been kind to you over the past few months you've gotten a chance to see Lombard in peak form.

After capturing the Bellator middleweight title in season one he triumphantly returned for the second stanza with back-to-back knockouts of UFC veteran Jay Silva and Herbert Goodman in non-title bouts. He disposed of both men in a combined 44 seconds.

More impressive yet is his active win streak. Since November 2006 he is 19 - 0 - 1. That's not a typo.

Critics of his resume will quickly point out that he has not exactly faced a murderer's row time in and time out and they would be correct to a certain point.

If given the opportunity someday to fight in a top promotion such as Strikeforce or the UFC he has both the physical tools and the skills necessary to be a serious threat to their upper tier 185-pounders.

"Shango" is scheduled to defend his crown against Alexander Shlemenko on October 28 at Bellator 34. Don't plan on blinking.

 

3) Eddie Alvarez - Bellator - (20 - 2)

The fighting pride of Kensington, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alvarez burst onto the scene in "The Land of the Rising Sun" during the 2008 DREAM Lightweight Grand Prix.

He won over Japanese fans with his aggressive boxing style and hard nosed demeanor.

Simply put - he's a finisher. That style is aesthetically pleasing to viewers. He has taken out his opponent in 18 of his 20 career victories (11 by knockout, 7 by submission).

His back and forth wars with Joachim Hansen and Tatsuya Kawajiri during the tournament were both legitimate candidates for "Fight of the Year" in all of MMA that year.

In 2009, he began to finally establish himself in the United States as he would go on to become Bellator's inaugural lightweight champion by winning their season one tournament.

A New Year's Eve 2008 loss to Shinya Aoki remains his only career blemish at 155-pounds.

His level of consistency has also allowed him to become a staple in the top five of the lightweight rankings over the course of the past two years.

That not withstanding, he remains a bit of an enigma to the general MMA populous hampered by the limited market share of Bellator.

He will take on a familiar face in former UFC fighter/Sports Illustrated cover boy Roger Huerta on October 21 at the Bellator 33 event in his hometown of Philadelphia.

The Liacouras Center is a mere three miles from his old neighborhood.

 

Click here for the final two. Both are Brazilians who have never fought in the US.

______________________

Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to outlets such as CBSSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, MMAmania.com, and BleacherReport.com.

Follow him on Twitter (@DerekBolender).

 

 

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