UFC President Dana White is a lot of things, but a gracious winner isn't one of them.
When ProElite -- a competitor he claimed to have never taken seriously -- announced it would be filing for bankruptcy last week, White gloated like a kid who'd just won at kickball. Magnanimous it wasn't, but if we expected anything different from the outspoken White we have only ourselves to blame for our disappointment.
As much as it pleases White to see another competitor go under, the reality is that it leaves a lot of people unemployed in lean economic times. And no, I'm not just talking about Kimbo Slice's entourage. I'm talking about the many fighters who fought under the ProElite umbrella who are still trying to figure out what their future holds.
At the moment, no one is going anywhere until the murky contract situation gets cleared up. But when it does, as it eventually must, there are five fighters the UFC should sign, and quick:
1. Jake Shields
The most talented fighter on the ProElite roster, the welterweight champ is almost certain to find himself in the Octagon. He doesn't come with an exorbitant price tag (which is always a bonus for Dana White & Co.), and he's a fresh face for a division that threatens to be cleaned out by Georges St. Pierre within a year or so. It's a no-brainer.
2. Nick Diaz
Two Diaz brothers in the UFC? Isn't that just a little too hardcore for one company? I sure hope not. The Diaz brothers may be a constant headache and a roaming sideshow, but they also put on a show every time they step in the Octagon. Nick might have to come down on his asking price a little and maybe even give up his medical marijuana card, but the UFC could certainly use him. Besides, he's going to be at all his brother's fights causing trouble anyway, so why not make him an employee and get the benefits along with drawbacks?
3. Robbie Lawler
Like Diaz, he had his run in the UFC before his EliteXC days. But Lawler has become a different fighter since then. Hard-nosed, hard-hitting and no-frills, he could bring something new to a middleweight division that is painfully thin right now. As long as he doesn't price himself out of the running, there is no reason for the UFC to let him get away.
4. Brett Rogers
No one suffered more from Slice's collapse against Seth Petruzelli than Rogers, who had been begging for the opportunity to expose Slice for months. EliteXC wouldn't have even had to pay him extra to stay off the ground, but somehow the promotion screwed that one up. Rogers is still an up-and-comer who needs some polish, but he's a big heavyweight with powerful striking. And he comes cheap. The UFC has built contracts on frailer ground than that before.
5. Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante
Perhaps the least known of the bunch, the light heavyweight Feijao is athletically gifted and ready to break into the big time. If the UFC doesn't sign him now, someone else will. He still needs a little time to grow (which is another way of saying the UFC won't have to pay through the nose to get him), but he could be a major contender in the 205-pound division within a year or two.
Futures of Other Notables:
Kimbo Slice -- The UFC will pass, unless he wants to go on The Ultimate Fighter, which he doesn't. Japan is where Kimbo should go. They love a story there, and they don't even mind too much if you aren't very good.
Gina Carano -- If you want a strong women's division she's a must-have. The UFC doesn't seem interested in that business, so they'll let her slide.
Eddie Alvarez -- He may prefer to try his luck in DREAM for a while, safely in Japan where the contract trouble can't reach him, but he'd be a great pick-up eventually.
Joey Villasenor -- He could very well slip into the UFC down the road, or slip under their radar altogether. Either way, it won't make or break the promotion.
Seth Petruzelli -- He destroyed his own 15 minutes of fame with his radio show remarks. Dana White is probably grateful, in a way, but not enough to give him a job. At least he's got that smoothie shop thing going for him.