Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly Sherdog.com series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it. For example, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Robbie Lawler may have been born in San Diego, but few would recognize him as a Californian.
The first installment in the “Greats of the States” series focuses on Alabama, a southern state rich in boxing history but largely devoid of impactful MMA exports. That is not to say the “Yellowhammer State” has not had its share of successful mixed martial artists. After much research and debate among Sherdog staff and contributors, UFC, Bellator MMA and Strikeforce alum John Salter was chosen to represent Alabama.
Born in Gardendale, Alabama, Salter has done quite well for himself after a successful collegiate wrestling career at Lindenwood University, an NAIA school in St. Louis where he won a national championship in 2007. He made his professional MMA debut in March 2009, started 4-0 and signed with the UFC. Salter went 1-2 inside the Octagon, his lone victory coming at the expense of Jason MacDonald at UFC 113 on May 8, 2010. He was released by the UFC following a submission loss to former International Fight League champion Dan Miller a little more than four months later. Salter has won six of his seven fights since, including wins over Kalib Starnes and Jaime Jara, and currently sits at 11-3. He has finished all 11 of his victories. Salter last appeared at Bellator 132 in January 2015, when he submitted Dustin Jacoby with a second-round rear-naked choke.
Honorable Mentions: Marcus Brimage, Eric Esch