Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock and the 8 Most Underappreciated Fighters of All Time

Dwight Wakabayashi@WakafightermmaCorrespondent IIMay 17, 2011

Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock and the 8 Most Underappreciated Fighters of All Time

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    In the world of mixed martial arts, the hype machine can be an extremely frustrating thing to a fighter.

    Some fighters are hyped up too quickly for their game to keep up and that can lead to undeserved fights, endorsements, and all around fan popularity.

    On the other side of the hype coin there are many fighters in this business who's discipline, blood, sweat and tears seems to go unnoticed no matter what they have done or continue to do when the cage door closes.

    It is sometimes a tough pill for a professional fighter to swallow, when they get bypassed and overlooked by the powers that be, for the up and coming, fresh, largely unproven  newcomer.

    As a shout-out to all those fighters who have sat in the emergency room for hours getting stitched up, while the others jet to the nearest post-fight party, here are the eight most underappreciated fighters of all time. 

8. Igor Vovchanchyn (54-10-1)

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    "Ice Cold" is largely unknown in the grand scheme of things to the mixed martial arts fan, but it is largely because he hardly had any fights in North America and because he is 38 years old and had his last fight in 2005.

    Vovchanchyn compliled 54 wins, was always game for a stand up war and entertained many in his time, mainly with the Pride organization. He was not one dimensional though, and has 17 submission wins on his record.

    Big wins against Goodridge, Sakuraba, Inoue, Kerr and Yvel say that Vovchanchyn is a top level fighter.

    Unfortunately for Igor, he always failed to win that really big fight and that, more than anything is why he is not fully appreciated by the fans.

    he remains underappreciated in history only in relation to the sweat he has given.

7. Tim Sylvia (28-7)

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    Tim Sylvia is one of the greatest heavyweights mixed martial arts has ever seen but his late career performances and lack of commitment to the sport have diminished his legacy a bit.

    He has also gone on to a reality show career and has become a bit of a punch line in some circles of the sport, and these things have not helped.

    Bottom line is that Sylvia was a great heavyweight and between 2001 and his loss to Randy Couture in 2007, he was one of the top of the heap in the world at heavyweight, although many of his counterparts in Japan at the time would beg to differ.

    25 wins and a UFC title says that Sylvia had a great career, but he is underappreciated due to how far he let himself and his game go at the end of his fighting years.

6. Jake Shields (26-5-1)

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    Jake Shields is just now starting to get his due in the eyes of many in the sport. Or his he?

    He received a nice bit of hype and exposure leading up to his title shot at UFC 129, but many have panned his performance that night, and blamed him for what was a lackluster affair with GSP.

    Shields' performance that night aside, he has 26 wins in his career, has held every title you can imagine outside of the UFC and has performed in the ring with some of the best and beat some of the best in the process.

    Shields is extremely good at what he does, and he will not be appreciated for that in his career, because of the way he does it. It makes no matter to him though, he will just keep on winning. 

5. Frank Shamrock (23-10-2)

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    Frank Shamrock was widely named fighter of the decade in the 1990's and his career should he in high regard when talking about past legends of the sport.

    It's pretty obvious that his famous falling out with Dana White and the UFC have hindered his ability to stay relevant and appreciated.

    I think Frank has made his own bed here, but in terms of what he brought in the cage in his time and his war with Tito is front and center, is worthy of all respect.

    Watch that fight and great career or not, I think you will appreciate Frank Shamrock.

4. Jim Miller (20-2)

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    Jim Miller is on a seven-fight win streak, is 15-1 since 2007, and is damn good everybody, why can't he get the shot he deserves?

    Granted his one real shot at a name in Gray Maynard ended in a loss in 2009, but it's time to give Miller his due and a No. 1 contender fight as soon as possible.

    Miller finally he got one in his next bout against "Smooth" Ben Henderson, and maybe a win there can catapult his name into the consciousness of America where it belongs.

    Man, I can't wait to see that fight.

3. Jeremy Horn (87-21-5)

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    Jeremy Horn is yet another fighter who has fought the best and beaten some of the best but is underappreciated mainly because of his failure in the big fight.

    Horn is widely credited with teaching and training with anyone and everyone who is top level in the tough game of MMA.

    Wins over Liddell, Griffin and Sonnen twice, prove that Horn should be in conversation with the best in his division.

    People highlight his losses to all the big names and overlook him at times. His best days are behind him so it will be hard to gain respect now, but Horn is a top-notch fighter with incredibly unique dexterity and always entertained in his bouts.

2. Yushin Okami (26-5)

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    Yushin Okami must feel like he is being fattened up for the slaughter these days as the spot light will be squarely on him in the lead up to his fight with Anderson Silva in Rio.

    He has had a stellar career already as he has already beaten Silva (although DQ) among others, yet he is just now going to have people watching and he may be in tough to show anything in this one.

    His "Thunder" style is going to have to smother Silva for a win, and then maybe people will know how good and strong Okami really is. 

1. Bas Rutten (28-4-1)

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    Bas Rutten is another one who was before his time.

    He was a champion in this sport long before there were any cameras around and he does not get the credit he deserves in the sport.

    Not only is a champion fighter with wins over Maurice Smith, Frank Shamrock twice and Kevin Randleman, he was an ambassador for the sport due to his ability to speak loud and proud of MMA on the microphone.

    He is also a famed teacher and commentator for the sport even though he is retired form fighting.