While this is a not necessarily a list of true free agents, it represents fighters who are not under contract with UFC, Strikeforce, or Bellator; the top three televised promotions in North America.
The welterweight class is division where free agents have a hard time finding a way onto top promotional rosters. The UFC has 48 fighters under contract so finding a spot on their roster means winning in regional promotions frequently and in spectacular fashion. The Strikeforce roster consists of only 14 fighters under contract (mostly prospects), and find themselves in need of opponents to keep Nick Diaz in MMA. It is a strong possibility that Diaz may be the first champion in Strikeforce to move on to the UFC, leading to several scenarios where the title could be forfeited or merged, depending on how Zuffa deals with such a crossover. Bellator just finished up their welterweight tournament so announcements on future editions are forthcoming.
Siyar Bahadurzada (19-4-1)
Fight Matrix Rank: 13
Bahadurzada is a rising talent from the Netherlands by way of Afghanistan. The Golden Glory fighter has been involved in a tug of war with Strikeforce over the last year having signed a four-fight contract but apparently never applying for a visa to fight stateside for the promotion. Allegations have been thrown back and forth between both sides concerning who's to blame, but the reality is that Bahadurzada needs to get his management in line (or vice versa) so that contracts don't stall his success. Hopefully the acquisition of Strikeforce by Zuffa will expedite his stateside debut. If not, the UFC will probably be interested once 'Siyar the Great' gets past Tommy Depret at the United Glory WW Grand Prix Finals on May 22.
Jordan Mein (21-7-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 31
Mein is a Rage in the Cage mainstay who has had some luck finding quality opponents to showcase his abilities in regional competition. A TKO win over Joe Riggs opened some eyes for Mein, but he also followed that performance up with a UD win over Josh Burkman in April. The Canadian has only lost twice in the last three years, both in decisions to tough fighters in Mike Ricci and Jason High. While a Strikeforce Challengers series should be the next step in the 21 year old Mein's progression, it appears that Strikeforce has dropped the ball yet again and let Marius Zaromskis (one of their cross-over Dream fighters) accept a bout with Mein at the Score Fighting Series promotion on June 10th...completely confounding.
Keita Nakamura (21-4-2, UFC 0-3)
Fight Matrix Rank: 44
Nakamura recently added a feather to his cap by winning the Sengoku WW Grand Prix at the promotion's annual New Year's show. ‘K-Taro' also had an opportunity to make it in the UFC, losing to Brock Larson, Drew Fickett, and Robert Emerson, all by decision. He nearly retired from MMA after his last UFC appearance, but the Japanese star is now riding a four-fight win streak and sparking a career resurgence. If Strikeforce is still in the market of signing fighters, Nakamura should definitely be on their radar.
Delson Heleno (21-5-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 47
Heleno is a BJJ world champion who is currently riding a nice 7-fight win streak. The IFL veteran has quality wins over Daniel Acacio, Jake Ellenberger (armbar sub), and Fabio Nascimento, and once challenged Jay Hieron for the IFL welterweight title. Heleno's only drawback is that he relies heavily on his BJJ skills and if the fight doesn't go to the ground his ability to finish is greatly reduced. The 34 year old Brazilian would be a welcome sight in Strikeforce and a fantastic addition to a Bellator tournament.
Eduardo Pamplona (14-2-0)
Fight Matrix Rank: 48 (MW)
Black House team member Eduardo Pamplona is another Brazilian welterweight veteran with the experience and talent to make it on Strikeforce Challengers or Bellator card. Notable wins against the likes of Jorge Patino, Daniel Acacio, Jose Landi-Jons, and Joe Bunch solidify his resume. While he has been fighting recently at MW, the 170 class is probably the better weight for him on bigger cards
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