Friday, February 22, 2008

The Top Bantamweights/Featherweights in the Northeast

Fighters that compete at 145 and/or 135 pounds are sparse around these parts, but as the sport has grown more popular, so too has the ranks of these bantamweights and featherweights. There are by no means a lot of the "little guys", and not enough to pick five in each weight class, so here are the best at both weights. -Wilson Reis- A jiu-jitsu warrior transplanted from Brazil to US soil, Reis is an aggressive grappler and rising star in ShoXC. Expect him to wind up facing a top fighter in the WEC sooner rather than later. -Zack Makovsky- Utilizing solid wrestling and strong striking, Makovsky has dismantled two Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts and earned a Combat in the Cage belt in the process. Reis submitted him at the last ShoXC, but it's doubtful any other fighter in the Northeast could repeat that feat. -Steve DeAngelis- Scrappy. Well-rounded. Frankie Edgar protege. BCX champ. DeAngelis is all of these things, and he's putting his belt on the line at the next BCX event against another tough fighter in Blair Tugman. -Tihn Tupy- A frenetic and fast-paced fighter, Tupy took out two solid opponents in 2007, and his exciting grappling style will serve him well when he graduates to the national stage.

The Top Heavyweights in the Northeast

The gap between the "good" heavyweights and the "okay" heavyweights is pretty vast. That said, among the good ones, nobody is undefeated, and each one could beat the other on any given day. -John Murphy- A boxer-turned-mixed martial artist, Murphy is a knockout artist and huge crowd-pleaser. His only loss came at the hands of UFC fighter Houston Alexander, and this Combat in the Cage champ and Extreme Challenge and ShoXC veteran has rebounded nicely. -Shane Ott- A teammate of Murphy, Ott is an enormous ground-and-pound and kimura machine. He's suffered a couple losses in the IFL, but those were against the league's best guys. -Carlos Moreno- Imagine Tank Abbott, only Latino. That's Moreno, who, with his sprawl and KO power, has established himself as a fan-favorite in New Jersey. Don't let the former ROC champ's two recent losses fool you, though: the man is a killer. -Bryan Vetell- Vetell is a Greco-Roman wrestling specialist and absolute behemoth, and like Ott, his losses have come from the top guys in the IFL. Honorable mention: Braden Bice, who usually manages to outlast his opponents and get the win.

The Top Light-Heavyweights in the Northeast

The 205-pound weight class is mostly full of tough, brawler-types who could defeat each other on any given day. The lone exceptions to that rule, however, are IFL stars Andre Gusmao and Jamal Patterson. -Andre Gusmao- A capoeira stylist with some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu thanks to Renzo Gracie, Gusmao is an explosive striker and one-man wrecking crew. Want to see a sweet KO? Gusmao is your man. -Jamal Patterson- Patterson is an elite jiu-jitsu practitioner, and has shown off some solid submission chops by submitting four out of five opponents within the first round. He took a beating against Reese Andy, but seemed to emerge from that bout stronger than before. -Ricardo Romero- Heavy hands and wrestling. That's what enabled Romero to win the ROC "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament, and that's what's going to keep him on the winning track. -John Doyle- Cut from the same cloth as Romero, Doyle is a former Combat in the Cage champ and Beasts of the Northeast runner-up (he lost to Romero by TKO). Doyle just lost last weekend at the ShoXC event in Miami, but he's no less of a badass for it. -Brendan Barrett- Great on the ground and even better on the feet, Barrett is good for a three-round battle or a quick KO, and his only losses have come at the hands of Doyle and UFC fighter Tim Boetsch. Honorable mention: Philadelphia submission specialist Tim Carpenter.

The Top Middleweights in the Northeast

Only one of the Northeast's top middleweights is undefeated, and he's not so much a true middleweight as he is a fighter who competes at a catch-weight of 175 pounds (the cutoff for welterweight is 170). Yes, I'm talking about ROC and IFL veteran Lyman Good. -Lyman Good- Great on the feet and awesome on the ground, Good is Team Tiger Schulmann's most promising MMA prospect right now, and if he keeps steamrolling over opponents, will likely be the first from his camp to make it on to a UFC pay-per-view. -Mike Massenzio- The winner of the ROC "Beasts of the Northeast" tournament, Massenzio has evolved from a high-level wrestler trying his hand at MMA into a well-rounded mixed martial artist. He's also beaten three top 185 pounders in Dante Rivera, Lance Everson and Dan Miller. -Dante Rivera- As Ricardo Almeida's star pupil, Rivera's got some big expectations to live up to, but with solid submissions and ever-improving striking, this IFL veteran has done so nicely. Rumor has it Rivera is on the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter", so he might be out of the local mix soon. -Lance Everson- Everson is a scrappy veteran, and with his boxing, wrestling and submission skills, made it to the final round of the Beasts of the Northeast tournament. He's always dangerous. Always. -Dan Miller- The brother of Jim Miller, Dan is also a wrestler and badass jiu-jitsu guy, and he's risen to the top by employing his almost flawless ground game to submit the hell out of people. Honorable mention: Muay Thai specialist and TUF 7 competitor Aaron Meisner, boxer/wrestler Alexis Aquino, and "Tournament of Champions" winner Marc Stevens.