As Bellator Fighting Championship prepares for another busy slate to end the winter and start off the spring, it comes time to review the promoter's standing against the Ultimate Fighting Champion.
General understanding of today's MMA tells you that all true superstars should eventually land in the UFC. Bellator can somewhat disprove such theory, but did recently watch the UFC snag their most successful athlete -- Eddie Alvarez -- whose winning campaign did not follow him into the new surroundings.
After going 9-1 against the cream of the crop at Bellator, as well as 4-0 in Dream FC, Alvarez was trifled by the bigger, sharper Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in his Ultimate Fighting debut. It wasn't an impressive display and one which really underlined the talent discrepancy between second-tier promotions and the UFC.
Despite losing Alvarez, as well as battle-tested contender Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Bellator's stable still includes some seasoned trial-horse and hungry buck alike. What they will amount to in the long-haul remains to be seen, but the talent is certainly there in a roster almost 140-strong. It will be up to the promotion in how they capitalize on it.
The very best fighters will just battle their way through the herd, and make their presence known. That accounts for most Bellator champions -- a pedestal which often changes due to the influx of new MMA talent, the departure of old, and competitiveness due to the lack of stardom. It makes each and every title fight lack nothing in suspense and excitement.
With that, it may also be more difficult to rank all of these fighters who are clustered at the top for however long. I make that attempt here.
Below are my current rankings of the top ten Bellator fighters, in descending order:
10. Daniel Straus
9. Pat Curran
8. Joe Warren
7. Brandon Halsey
6. Michael Chandler
5. Douglas Lima
4. Vitaly Minakov
3. Will Brooks
2. Patricio Freire
1. Emmanuel Newton
Honorable Mentions: "King Mo" Lawal, Eduardo Dantas, Tito Ortiz, Melvin Manhoef, Marcos Galvao, Liam McGeary