(Mamed Khalidov squints in celebration after choking out Melvin Manhoef last June. Photo via Piotr Pedziszewski/Sherdog)
By Nasir Jabbar
The UFC’s ongoing quest for world domination will see the promotion hold over forty events in 2014, including the “European Tour” that kicks off March 8th in London with UFC Fight Night 38. After that, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Poland, and Turkey will also host Fight Night events, catering to the many fans across Europe who are hungry for their UFC fix.
Since these events will be broadcast on the UFC’s online service Fight Pass, they will likely be filled with European talent, to not only attract local crowds but to keep the costs down. The UFC’s European Head of Operations Garry Cook previously revealed that the promotion was on the lookout for another matchmaker to join Joe Silva and Sean Shelby, specifically to help fill those events. So, I’ll do the job for them and highlight four European fighters that UFC needs to sign this year…
(Khalidov vs. Kendall Grove @ KSW 21, 12/1/12)
Current Employer: KSW
Notable Wins: Mevlin Manhoef, Kendall Grove, Rodney Wallace, Matt Lindland, James Irvin
Why the UFC Should Sign Him: We’ve been Khalidov-nuthuggers for years, but can you blame us? Currently riding an eight-fight win streak (all wins by stoppage) the Polish wrecking machine is widely regarded as the best middleweight not signed to a major promotion. Admittedly, his opponents have mainly consisted of cans and UFC washouts, but he has dispatched them in brutal fashion. The Chechnya native has displayed a wide range of attacks as he continues to swallow the competition KSW feeds him, utilizing his devastating submission game and vicious striking.
Many of the big players in the MMA world have tried to get the elusive signature of Khalidov, with Bellator, Strikeforce and the UFC all failing. Khalidov went as far as to call the UFC’s offer “laughable” back in 2012, but with the 33-year-old racking up more wins since the initial offer, the Zuffa brass might be convinced to dig deeper into their pockets to make another offer. Despite the possibility of being a fairly “expensive” European signee, he would provide a stiff test for many of the top 185-pounders on the UFC’s roster. And if the UFC really wants to break into the Polish market, they need this guy.