The Editor's Note

By Jordan Breen Jan 19, 2011
When Sherdog.com publishes a list of any kind -- whether it's top prospects or our favorite breakfast cereals -- there's a thick-and-fast surge of responses. I'm often asked to weigh in with my opinion on our contributors' top 10s and so forth, which is part of the impetus for these "Editor's Notes." However, that is not to say that they're borne purely of dissent, either.  

On Jan. 17, 2011, we published a list, "10 Europeans to Watch in 2011," written by Tomasz Marciniak, an other-side-of-the-Atlantic companion to the Jan. 15 "10 Brazilians to Watch in 2011" by Gleidson Venga. On some level, Marciniak's task is easier than that which faced Venga: whereas Brazil's fight scene offers multiple, sprawling landscapes with a much more diverse crop of fighters, Europe's fight scene is a bit easier to get a handle on.  

Typically, fewer weight classes are represented than in Brazil: though bantamweight and featherweight fights happen in Europe, they're of far fewer number and much less consequence than Brazil's. Add to that the fact that Brazil's flyweight -- and now courtesy of Shooto Brazil -- strawweight, divisions are rocking, and it's a tougher morass to choose from.   

So, the usual suspects are absolutely present on Marciniak's list: the likes of Papy Abedi, Jimi Manuwa and Lukasz Sajewski all appeared on Tim Leidecker's "Top 10 Undefeated European Prospects" list, published July 31, 2010. Likewise, Gunnar Nelson -- for my money, Europe's best prospect right now -- previously appeared on Leidecker's "Top Ten Euro Prospects," published June 25, 2009.   

Were I to have penned the list, I likely would've included the likes of Swedish-based lightweight Reza Madadi, though there is an argument to be made that as an Iranian national, he should be left off on a technicality. Team Kaobon featherweight Mark Adams -- a teammate of UFC vets Terry Etim, Paul Taylor, Paul Kelly, Paul Sass and Mark Scanlon -- might have been a worthy addition, as well. He's not as flashy as some of his teammates, however, he's an uncommonly good wrestler by British standards and has the kind of camp and coaching behind him to capitalize on his athleticism. Also, Iceland's second best fighter (behind teammate Gunnar Nelson) Arni Isaksson has returned to MMA looking much improved on the ground, and could be worth attention in the coming year, as well.   

However, the biggest bit of feedback that seems to have come in regarding the piece is the exclusion of M-1 lightweight prospect Alexander Sarnavskiy. It's a decision I'm inclined to defend.   

The 21-year-old Sarnavskiy (Pictured) is dynamic and tons of fun to watch. However, there's no getting around the fact that he's been impressive mostly against dreadful opposition and has displayed a woeful lack of takedown defense. I suppose it comes down to a semantic argument: if the implication of fighters "to watch" in the coming year is to suggest guys high in entertainment value, he has a place, but if the notion is to turn readers onto European talents that could get big-fight deals or fight their way to the cusp of relevance over 2011, it's a touch more difficult to include him.   

Fighting in the ultra-competitive 155-pound division, being a seemingly safeguarded M-1 product and having such a glaring hole in his game, it's hard to think that Sarnavskiy's 2011 campaign will give him the chance to really "break out" the way many would hope. If anything, his predicament recalls another M-1 talent who ran up a glossy record, Magomed Shikshabekov, who was soundly beaten by Che Mills last October in his first fight against worthwhile opposition.
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