Everyone loves to talk about and hype up fighters outside of the UFC who would stand a chance to win Gold in the promotion. How many actually stand a chance? That we will probably never know. Here are 5 fighters who realistically could compete for belts in their respective divisions of the UFC. These are all fighters who have never competed under the UFC banner.

5. Aaron Pico – Bellator – Featherweight/Lightweight

Pico has had a lack luster start to his MMA career which has started 7-3. Pico was finished in all of 3 of his losses and 2 of them were brutal knockouts in which he was winning the entire fight. Once Pico made the switch to Jackson Wink MMA, he completely changed his game plan and grew as a fighter. Once touted as the biggest phenom to enter MMA of all time, Pico is finally starting to live up to some of the hype. Pico would be a major problem in the UFC lightweight or Featherweight division. With three straight finishes and looking to add another April 16th against Aiden Lee, the future is only getting brighter for the young star. With Pico’s wrestling and boxing ability, he would match up great against Volkanovski or the likes of Chandler/Oliveira.

4. Kayla Harrison – PFL – Featherweight

Harrison is an interesting case because it seems like she is a natural 155er. If Kayla Harrison could make a healthy weight to 145, she would be a very interesting match up for Amanda Nunes. Harrison is a two champion in the PFL and has yet to be defeated with a professional record of 8-0. A 6th degree black belt and two time Olympic gold medalist, Harrison would be a major problem for anybody in the UFC. As of right now Harrison stands to compete again in the upcoming 2021 PFL season and is a major favorite to once again take home the million dollars. There’s a good chance after this season, she could end up fighting the mega hyped Clarissa Shields or join the UFC.

3. Vadim Nemkov – Bellator – Light Heavyweight

Nemkov is the current Light Heavyweight champion in Bellator and has looked fantastic through his 5 fight stint with the promotion. Nemkov hasn’t lost a bout since 2016 and it was a split decision loss to Karl Albrektsson in RIZIN. Nemkovs only other loss is to Jiri Prochazka in 2015. Prochazka is currently a top 5 contender in the UFC. Nemkov is scheduled for a rematch with Phil Davis on April 16th, Nemkov won the first fight by split decision. Nemkov would make for an interesting match up with Jan Blachowicz with his blend of power in skill. The power & skill Vadim posses would be a problem for any light heavyweight under the UFC banner. He’s already finished multiple former UFC fighters.

2. A.J. McKee – Bellator – Featherweight

McKee is currently 17-0 while finishing his opponents in 12 of those victories. Scott Coker has been hyping up McKee for some time now and it looks like the hype was worth it. McKee has a wrestling background, but is a fighter who is improving his game every time he steps back into the cage. McKee has become a major problem in the stand up and ground game and would make a tough match up for pretty much any Featherweight in any promotion. Although McKee is only 25, he could currently go toe to toe with any top 5 featherweight in the UFC and yes that includes the great Max Holloway. Hopefully the fans get what they want and end up with a Patricio Pitbull/McKee match up in 2021 to truly crown the best featherweight in Bellator, but maybe in the world.

  1. Patrício “Pitbull” Freire – Bellator – Featherweight/Lightweight

Was there any real surprise as to who number 1 was going to be? Pitbull currently holds the Bellator featherweight and lightweight belts. Freire has been on a tear the last couple of years and recently even stopped current UFC lightweight title challenger Michael Chandler in just 61 seconds. The entire world wants to see Freire compete in the UFC and with all the recent talk of Michael Chandler, he feels he deserves to be discussed as one of the worlds best pound for pound fighters. If Patricio Pitbull can get past Emmanuel Sanchez April 2nd, then he will be fighting A.J. McKee, whose number 2 on this list. This would be considered the biggest and most hyped fight in Bellator history and would bring some more eyes to the organization. A matchup between Freire and the likes of Volkanovski, Ortega or Holloway would be fantastic. Most people want Freire to test the UFC waters and he has posses the skills to win the belts at featherweight or lightweight.

It would seem that Scott Coker and Bellator might actually have the best featherweight division in the world and a Grand Prix between the UFC & Bellator featherweights would be a dream come true for fans. These 5 fighters in the next 5 years could all be wearing the new UFC belt around their waists and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed or hated it or just want to argue, please feel free to follow me on Twitter @JohnnyRambos.

By Graham Ferrell

Clemson Alum, former Clemson beat writer and broadcast host. Love breaking down MMA.

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