These lists are subjective of course, but here is a list at the Top 5 fighters not currently signed to the UFC. Taken into account was skill of the fighter, but also marketability, experience and impact on the sport. Basically, these guys could fit right near the top of their respective weight classes on their way int the UFC and compete. Call it ‘The Best of the Rest’.
Josh Barnett (Heavyweight): The former UFC Heavyweight Champion hasn’t competed in the UFC in more than a decade, but he has established himself as one of the best Heavyweights in the world. He is a free agent, and negotiations with the UFC have reportedly hit a snag. Barnett, a notorious free spirit, may be asking for the right to continue his pro wrestling career simultaneously, something the UFC has nixed in the past.. Despite being overpowered by Daniel Cormier in his most recent loss, Barnett would be considered a threat to beat any heavyweight on the UFC roster.
Eddie Alvarez (Lightweight): Alvarez is caught in an ugly dispute now that a court has deemed Bellator’s offer a match to the UFC’s offer. Alvarez is a dynamic winner, and he is in his prime at 28 and appears eager to test himself against UFC competition. Alvarez’ may sit out up to a year waiting out the end of the contract rather than sign with Bellator, and that would be a shame. Alvarez is a Frankie Edgar sized fighter who may be more comfortable at 145 lbs in the UFC ultimately, but he has fought and succeeded against bigger guys his entire career.
Melvin Manhoef (Middleweight): The Dutch striker is considered limited on the ground, and he is, but there may be no more pound for pound power striker than Manhoef in th world.
Shinya Aoki (Lightweight): The Japanese trickster has earned himself a reputation as soft states-side, but that would be an incorrect assessment. He has an excellent 32-6 record overall, including a loss to Alvarez and a full five round decision loss to Gilbert Melendez, which are nothing to sneeze at. He has also beat a very high level of competition, but we are unlikely to see him in the UFC anytime soon, as he is currently scheduled to fight for ONE FC’s Lightweight title in April.
Ben Askren (Welterweight): Currently the Bellator Welterweight champion and an undefeated 11-0. Though less seasoned than th rest of the list, Askren has a extensive background in competition form wrestling, where he won multiple collegiate national titles. In MMA he is a blanket grappler without par, and he ha shown development in other areas of his game. This guy can grapple with anyone right now.
Honorable mention: Pat Curran (Featherweight), Michael Chandler (Lightweight), Alexander Shlemenko (Niddleweight).