Updated Aug 3, 2013 - 12:48 pm
Top 10 UFC fighters to come out of Arizona State: Part 1
Spending only two years at Arizona State, former UFC middleweight Clifford Starks racked up 12 wins and competed in the NCAA tournament. While he may not have the garnered the accolades his former Sun Devil teammates have received, he stormed out the gate to start his mixed martial arts career back in 2009. After winning in his first seven professional bouts, the Arizona Combat Sports product got the call from the UFC to replace an injured Brad Tavares against Dustin Jacboy back at UFC 137. With only two-weeks notice, Starks accepted the fight and went on to defeat Jacboy via unanimous decision. Since then, Starks has fallen on hard times in the octagon after being submitted by Ed Hermon and knocked out by Yoel Romero en route to being released from the UFC.
9. Kyle Kingsbury (11-5-1, 4-4 UFC)
After spending two seasons at Mesa Community College, Kyle Kingsbury transferred to ASU and eventually earned a walk-on position as a defensive lineman on the Sun Devils football squad. Initially a scout team member in his first year, Kingsbury saw an increase in playing time his senior year that culminated in taking the field for ASU's Sun Bowl victory over Purdue in 2004. Upon graduating Kingsbury transitioned from the grind iron to the octagon, picking up wins in seven of his first eight bouts and earning an invitation to try out for The Ultimate Fighter season eight. Although he lost to fellow Sun Devil Ryan Bader in the preliminary bout, he earned a spot on the show after injuries forced two fighters to pull out of competition. Kingsbury went on to lose both fights on the reality and dropped his official UFC debut to Tom Lawlor at the TUF 8 Finale but redeemed himself with four consecutive wins from 2008-2011. Since then he's dropped his last three bouts, with his last one ending in a fractured orbital bone at the hands of Jimi Manuwa back at UFC on Fuel TV 5 last September.
8. John Moraga (13-2, 2-1 UFC)
The most recent flyweight number-one contender, John Moraga may rep the Grand Canyon state more than any other fighter on this list. With the city of Phoenix's emblem tattooed on his back, the former Maryvale turned ASU wrestler is often seen wearing his old high school's hat at UFC events. With wins in 11 of his first 12 career fights, Moraga entered the UFC with something prove in the organization's newest division- and boy did he deliver. Finishing both his opponents to start his UFC career earned the MMA Lab product his title shot against flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. While he may not have come out on top in his most recent fight against the 125-pound champion back at UFC on Fox 8, Moraga remains a top-five fighter in his division, and with a couple more wins the Phoenix native will be find himself right back into the title mix.
7. C.B. Dollaway (13-4, 7-4 UFC)
The former JUCO wrestling champion at Colby Community College in Kansas, CB Dollaway went on to earn All-American honors after transferring to ASU in 2006 and placing 5th in the 185-pound bracket in his senior year. Upon graduating, Dollaway almost immediately began training for a career in MMA. With wins in his first six bouts, the Power MMA product earned a roster spot on The Ultimate Fighter season seven as the first overall pick for coach Quentin ‘Rampage' Jackson. Dollaway didn't disappoint as he dispatched his first two opponents with ease before dropping back to back fights to to eventual winner Amir Sadollah after replacing Jesse Taylor in the finale. Dollaway would go onto win five of his next six bouts before dropping two straight in 2011. Since then he's righted the ship with wins over the immensely popular Jason ‘Mayhem' Miller and The Ultimate Fighter Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian. Originally scheduled to face TUF: Brazil champion season one Cezar Ferreira back at UFC on FX 8, Dollaway was forced to pull out wit a foot injury.
6. Aaron Simpson (12-5, 7-4 UFC)
Arguably the best pure wrestler on this list, Aaron Simpson compiled a record of 142-1 at Antelope High School before ending his Sun Devil wrestling career with 110 wins with All-American honors in 1996 and 1998. Eventually becoming the ASU assistant wrestling coach, a position he held for nine years, Simpson coached several future UFC superstars including Moraga, Bader, Dollaway and Cain Velasquez. Making his MMA debut back in 2000 with a win over Billy Onlewski, Simpson took a seven-year hiatus from the sport before returning to the cage and getting the call from the UFC two years later. After three impressive victories to start his UFC career, Simpson hit a roadblock with back-to-back losses to Chris Leben and fellow All-American wrestler Mark Muñoz. Simpson would go on to win three consecutive bouts before dropping two of three. After the UFC chose not to renew ‘A-Train's' contract, he would compete once more at World Series of Fighting 2, in a losing effort, before hanging up the gloves for good. Since then, Simpson has found a new career as co-host on the Power MMA Show and as the head of Sanford Medical Center's Profile Performance nutrition program whose clients include former lightweight contender Gray Maynard and current middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
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