2016 has seen many new fighters emerge as future contenders, now let’s take a look at some prospects in each weight class who could soon make their UFC debut
Women’s Strawweight: Angela Lee 6-0
The women’s strawweight title has only been defended once in 2016 thus far, but that defense was a successful one against the always dangerous Claudia Gadelha. The champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, has proven herself to be a level above all others girls, and has yet to taste defeat in her career.
Angela Lee has been making waves in the One Championship promotion, accumulating a 6-0 record with all but one of those victories coming by way of submission. In Lee’s most recent fight, she made US gambling news by going five rounds to win a unanimous decision against tough veteran Mei Yamaguchi.
Lee is a pressure fighter with a dangerous submission game. If Joanna Jedrzejczyk has shown any holes in her game, it’s the ground game, and Lee might just be the best submission fighter in the division. There are still many questions surrounding Angela Lee, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her make a UFC debut by 2017.
Honorable Mentions: Viviane Perreira, Livia Renata Souza
Women’s Bantamweight: Taila Santos 14-0
Around this time one year ago, many fans and analysts were of the opinion that the women’s bantamweight division was one of the weakest in the UFC. Ronda Rousey was dominating every opponent she faced, and it seemed unlikely that any legitimate contenders would emerge. Even sports betting sites like GTBets predicted Rousey would handily win all of her fights. Today, it is one of the most interesting divisions in the sport filled with different prospects in MMA.
The belt has changed twice since Rousey’s quasi-retirement, and a number of tough women are vying for their shot to win gold. One fighter who could emerge as a contender in the near future is Brazilian striker Taila Santos. At 14-0, Santos is one of the most decorated bantamweights outside the UFC.
Taking a closer look at Santos’ record, you will see that a number of her opponents had abysmal records, including her most recent opponent who sports a 0-2 record. Taila Santos has certainly padded her record, but there’s no doubt she is one of the most exciting prospects in MMA and most dangerous strikers in the women’s division, with 10 KO’s out of her 14 wins.
Honorable Mentions: Lina Lansberg, Jennifer Maia
Flyweight: Nick Urso 8-2
There is no fighter more dominant in the sport right now that UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. The champion has defended his belt 8 times already, and is the consensus #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. GTBets lists him as the massive favorite in almost all this fights, mainly because Johnson has defeated every fighter he has faced, so much so that the UFC built an entire show around finding him a legitimate challenger.
One such challenger might be Jackson Winkeljohn fighter Nick Urso. The hype surrounding Urso has existed for some time, but he’s only averaged 1 fight per year since 2013. Urso lost to Ray Borg in 2014, but bounced back with a dominant win over Joshua Montoya.
Urso’s UFC debut seems inevitable. He trains at arguably the best gym in the world, and has been fighting at a UFC caliber level for years. Urso has a wrestling-based game but has shown to be adept at striking as well. If he can make his UFC debut by 2017, we may see him challenging for the title by 2018.
Honorable Mentions: Adam Antolin, Rany Saadeh
Bantamweight: Tom Duquesnoy 13-1
France is not exactly known for their MMA fighters, but that could be changing soon. Firstly, heavyweight French fighter Francis Ngannou has been wrecking shop, and bantamweight striker Taylor Lapilus has gone 3-1 so far in the UFC. Perhaps the most exciting French MMA fighter competing today, and one of the more talented prospects in MMA is the young Tom Duquesnoy. If you find that name hard to pronounce, you should see the weirdest name of nba player Ekpe Udoh!
Duquesnoy has been fighting professionally since 2012, and is the current BAMMA bantamweight championship. In May of this year, the French fighter put on perhaps the best performance of his career by knocking out Shay Walsh in the first round with a standing elbow.
Tom Duquesnoy is another Jackson-Wink fighter that has been fighting outside the UFC. His elite striking game is dangerous, and he has unusual power for a 135 pound fighter. There is no question that Duquesnoy could compete inside the UFC. It seems likely that he will make his debut in 2017, and will likely be thrown to the wolves.
Featherweight: Andre Harrison 14-0
It’s never easy to go undefeated in MMA, especially over 14 professional fights. Andre Harrison has done just that, competing in the NY regional scene and in Titan FC. Harrison is an elite wrestler who excels in breaking down his opponents round by round.
The UFC featherweight division is incredible exciting right now, and the competition has never been higher. You need to be truly elite to break into the featherweight top-10, and a young prospect like Harrison will be looking to do exactly that.
The major criticism about Andre Harrison is his inability to finish fights. He has gone to the judge’s decision in 7 of his last 8 fights, with the only fight stopped coming from a leg injury. Nonetheless, a win’s a win, and Harrison is a winner. He will be thrown to the wolves in the UFC, but as one of the best prospects in MMA, he will likely be ready for the challenge.
Who do you think is the most exciting prospects in MMA? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US to find all the best websites for betting on MMA! Stay tuned for Part 2.