Depending on one’s opinion it’s either back to school season or the end of summer. Either way people are going back to school and I would like to take the tradition to start updating my lists from year to year. For the back to school season we will be doing a back to school list. To list the criteria, the fighters will be listed based on a combination of their academic and in cage/ring accomplishments. With that here we go:
10. Jared Rosholt
Jared Rosholt is a star on the rise. The former Oklahoma State wrestler makes this list because of his Bachelors Degree in Education which he earned while following in the footsteps of his older brother Jake Rosholt. After graduating from Oklahoma State in 2010, Rosholt began training in MMA. In the past year, Rosholt made his UFC debut and has won three times for the promotion. This winning streak only adds to a winning streak that now spreads to seven fights. Considering he is an athletic heavyweight, expect him to continue to rise.
9. Johny Hendricks
The reason why Johny Hendricks is ranked over the above mentioned Rosholt despite going 1-1 this past year is because of the quality of his opponents. Henricks is also an Oklahoma State alumni with a Bachelors Degree in Education. Following college, Hendricks went into MMA and was on a six fight winning streak leading into his fight with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St.-Pierre. In what was one of the most controversial but best fights of the year, Hendricks lost a split decision. However following GSP’s vacating of the title, Hendricks was given the opportunity to fight Robbie Lawler for the vacant title which he won this time around in another close decision.
8. Cain Velasquez
The first UFC Champion on this list, Cain Velasquez earned this spot for both his one match in the past year and for his TUF coaching tenure. Velasquez earned a Bachelors Degree in Education while wrestling at Arizona State. In his second reign as UFC Heavyweight Champion, Velasquez defended his title twice in 2013, but once during the span of time this list covers; his third match with Junior dos Santos. This year he coached opposite future opponent Fabricio Werdum in the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. So far he has proved to be a good coach and half of the members of his team won their first matches and the season isn’t done yet.
7. T.J. Dillashaw
T.J. Dillashaw had the best year of his life and accomplished a lot. Dillashaw earned a Bachelors Degree in Kinesiology from Cal State Fullerton when the college had a wrestling program. The year didn’t start out well for when he lost to Raphael Assuncao. However, he defeated Mike Easton and then went onto pull what is probably Upset of the Year and defeated Renan Barao. The two were supposed to rematch until Barao had weight cutting issues and instead knocked out last minute replacement Joe Soto.
6. Bethe Correia
The first woman on this list, Bethe Correia has certainly established herself from a nobody to a contender. Correia earned a degree in accounting while training in MMA which is an accomplishment. In the past year, she made her UFC debut against veteran Julie Kendzie then defeated Jessamyn Duke. She then defeated veteran Shayna Baszler. Correia then called out Ronda Rousey.
5. Chris Weidman
Chris Weidman has had a busy year to say the least. Weidman first went to college at Nassau Community College before transferring to Hofstra University for wrestling and earned a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. Following his first defeat of Anderson Silva, Weidman faced the former pound for pound king in an immediate rematch in which he dominated Silva before splitting Silva’s leg with a leg check. He then went onto defend his title this last July against Lyoto Machida. Weidman is now set to face Vitor Belfort at the end of the year.
4. Takeya Mizugaki
Now we get to the members with higher degrees of education. Takeya Mizugaki has a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Kanto Gakuin University. He first starting fighting in promotions like Shooto and Cage Force before eventually moving to the WEC and eventually the UFC. This past year he has faced off against the likes of Nam Phan and Francisco Rivera, extending his winning streak to five straight. He will now face his next challenge this next weekend against former UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz in his return.
3. Barb Honchak
Barb Honchak is the highest woman on this list. Honchak holds two Masters Degrees. The first is in Ecology and the second is in Genetics. This last year she defended her title against Leslie Smith. At present her next defense is unknown but December is a likely date.
2. Bentley Syler
Many wouldn’t know who Bentley Syler is unless one has been watching The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America. Syler is from Bolivia representing Team Latin America. Unfortunately he lost in the first round to Team Mexico’s Jose Alberto Quinones. The reason why he is on this list is because he is an actual doctor in his native Bolivia. Regardless of the country that is an accomplishment in and of itself.
1. Oleksiy Oliynyk
Oleksiy Oliynyk is number one on this list for a few reasons. The first is that he is a lawyer. The second is that he has won all three of the fights in the past year. His last non-UFC fight was against Mirko Filipovic. Then he made his UFC debut against Anthony Hamilton.
Please stay tuned for other upcoming seasonal top 10 lists.