There are many top prospects to keep an eye on, but these are the top 3 MMA fighters to watch in 2017. Expect big things from these athletes.
2016 was one of the most historic years in MMA history. We at GamingZion already covered some of the year’s biggest stories, and a number of top prospects began to emerge. Now, let’s take a look at 3 MMA fighters to watch in 2017.
Jackson-Winklejohn trained fighter Lando Vannata had plenty of hype when he entered into the UFC. He was thrown to the wolves immediately, taking on one of the lightweight division’s top contenders Tony Ferguson on short notice.
Despite coming into the fight as a considerable underdog according to almost all online sportsbooks in the US, Vannata came extremely close to winning the fight, dropping Ferguson on numerous occasions. He fell short in the 2nd round, but “groovy” Lando showed the world he is one of the most dangerous and exciting fighters at 155 pounds.
UFC 209 Betting Odds
- Tyron Woodley: +100
- Stephen Thompson: -120
- Tony Ferguson: +160
- Khabib Nurmagomedov: -185
Less than 5 months later, Lando Vannata stepped back into the octagon to take on veteran fighter John Makdessi. Intertops listed him as the betting favorite with odds of 1.57. 1:40 into the first round, Lando scored one of the most memorable knockouts in UFC history by landing a perfectly timed spinning heel kick to the jaw of the Canadian striker.
Lando Vannata has arrived, and is without a doubt one of the top MMA fighters to watch in 2017. He is already set to return at UFC 209, and will be taking on another talented striker, David Teymur. The sky is the limit for Vannata, and it may not be such a stretch to imagine him fighting for a title sometime in the coming years.
Most fans of MMA know that heavyweight has always struggled to find young talent. It’s simply not as likely for a big man to enter into MMA when he’s young when so many other sporting opportunities like football are available. One exception to this rule is 8-0 heavyweight standout Justin Ledet.
Ledet is a former boxer who made his professional MMA debut in October of 2010. It took until 2016 for the Texan to make his UFC debut, but when he did he showed all kinds of potential. His first bout in the promotion came against tough brawler Chase Sherman. Ledet showed just how slick his boxing was and cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
His next fight came just over 3 months later at Belfast, Ireland against English striker Mark Godbeer. Most MMA betting experts figured the fight would be a slug fest, but Ledet showed off his evolving game, and made US gambling news by taking down Godbeer and finishing him with a rear-naked choke in the first round.
Ledet is the kind of fighter that could make waves at heavyweight. He’s one of the best strikers in the division, and showed he’s dangerous on the ground as well. His next fight will come against Russian prospect Dmitriy Sosnovskiy, who could certainly make a list of MMA fighters to watch in 2017 in his own right.
If you like to keep up with MMA prospects, you’ve likely heard of undefeated featherweight Mirsad Bektic. At just 25 years old, Bektic is already knocking on the doors of the top 10, and could be fighting for a title with a few more impressive victories.
Mirsad has actually been thought of as a top prospect for years. He first made his UFC debut in 2014 against gritty wrestler Chas Skelly. He won that fight via decision, and has since won 3 more in the UFC, most notably against Russell Doane this past October.
Bektic has shown an extremely well-rounded game thus far in his career, which is essential in a weight class as tough as featherweight. 8 of his 11 wins have come via stoppage, and all 4 of his amateur fights we won via finishes as well.
Bektic will take on his toughest test to date in March against Darren Elkins. Intertops has not yet set the betting lines for this fight, but it seems likely he will enter as the MMA betting favorite.
Who do you think are the top MMA fighters to watch in 2017? Will any of the fighters we listed earn a title shot this year? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below, and make sure to check out Intertops for a full list of MMA betting odds!