8 Future Stars in the UFC
Hey guys just posted this over at my blog. Check out the article below and give your opinions.
Anderson Silva, B.J. Penn, Chuck Liddell, Rich Franklin Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes. What do they all have in common? They were all once or are still currently a top draw within the company. They are all also either at the end of the career or approaching it very quickly. People are proclaiming the downturn of the UFC already once these mainstays have packed up and moved along with their life. Luckily their is a whole slew of young talent waiting in the wings who will pick up where these pioneers left off. The eight below seem poised to become headlining fighters one day, with enough drawing power to carry a card.
The Swede looks like one of the next big things in the 205 pound division within the UFC. A boxer by trade, it’s pretty clear that Gustafsson has been sharpening the other aspects of his game as well. Against fellow future star Phil Davis, Gustafsson was able to fend off takedowns from the NCAA champion for almost the entirety of the first round. He did lose the fight but not before giving Davis some trouble. Gustafsson has some seriously heavy hands and very sound boxing, a style that lends itself well to Fight of the Night performances. He knocked out Jared Hamman in a mere 41 seconds, stopped takedowns from a former champion, and looked absolutely dominant against Cyrille Diabate. The 23-year old has a very bright future within the UFC.
7. Scott Jorgensen
With the merger of the UFC and WEC, young promising fighters like Jorgensen look to prosper. Jorgensen is next in line for a title shot against Dominick Cruz in December, and win or lose is almost certain to entertain fans. As the new lighter divisions began to take root within the UFC it seems poised that Jorgensen become a fan favorite. The scrappy fighter has taken home two Fight of the Night bonuses in his past four fights, and that doesn’t include one of the most brutal guillotine chokes I have ever witnessed. Couple his performances with his condition, vitiligo, and you have a story made for UFC Prime Time episodes.
The UFC is always looking for ambassadors of the sport to spread MMA interest into other countries, and MacDonald seems like a prime candidate. The next big thing out of Canada, MacDonald was recently stopped in his bout at UFC 115 against Carlos Condit after controlling the fight for the first two rounds. It was the 21 year old fighters first loss and a guaranteed learning experience. He put on one hell of a fight against Condit and came off as humble and eager to better himself following the loss. If MacDonald continues to develop into the fighter many predict he can be, the welterweight division may be ruled by the Canadians for a long time to come.
Few have walked into the Octagon and looked farther along and more mature than the 21 year old Brazilian. A brilliant jiu jitsu practitioner who is constantly looking for submission attempts, Oliveira has a style that has the fans eating out of the palms of his hands. He is constantly trying to finish the fight, constantly looking for a small opening to sink in that fight ending submission. Against former Ultimate Fighter winner Efrain Escudero, Oliveira executed one of the most beautiful transitions to end the fight. After slinging Escudero into the cage and flipping him over for the throw takedown, Oliveira was able to swing around onto his back and choke out the Mexican as he stood back up. A lack of English aside, Oliveira has every tool at his disposal to one day headline a major UFC card.
Frank Mir and Josh Koscheck have made pretty big names for themselves out of simply being total douche bags and Brendan Schaub seems to following in their footsteps. Never one to shy away from the camera and hype himself up, Schaub’s attitude has already riled up some fans. Fan perception aside, Schaub is a very talented heavyweight with a very solid training camp behind him. A former NFL player, MMA has come fairly easy for the 6’4”240 pound Ultimate Fighter alum. His stand up has looked to be mighty impressive, especially after his beat down of Gabriel Gonzaga. Schaub has the skills and the grating personalitie to interest fans enough to tune in, even if it is just to see him get smashed.
3. Evan Dunham
When is a loss not really a loss? When almost the entirety of the MMA community believes that you won the fight. Thus is the case with Dunham who got royally shafted in his fight with Sean Sherk at UFC 119. Obviously Joe Silva and Dana White had the same sentiments as they continued moving him up the ladder and matched him up against Kenny Florian as they headline UFC Fight For the Troops 2 in January. Dunham is another one of those guys who mix a fan friendly personality with world class skills. Following the “loss” to Sherk he urged the fans to stop booing and give it up for two guys who just went toe to toe for three straight rounds. He is a hard nosed worker, a guy who gives 100 percent every time he steps into that cage. Dunham has shown exciting stand-up and a dynamite submission game. We could be talking about Dunham getting a title shot very shortly at the rate he is going.
2. Jose Aldo
As Anderson Silva has proven in the past speaking English is not a prerequisite for drawing fans, and Jose Aldo looks to take full advantage of that with the recent UFC/WEC merger. Fans of this sport like violence and lucky enough for them Aldo’s specialty is just that. Only Urijah Faber lasted more than three rounds with the Brazilian, and in turn he was unable to walk as his legs turned into grotesque mixtures of black and purple. Aldo has some of the most exciting muay thai around combining lightning quick kicks and pinpoint accurate punches that knock opponents into tomorrow. What’s even scarier is the fact that training partners have often spoken of how his jiu jitsu is even better than his stand-up, but no one gets to see it because he knocks them out so fast. At a mere 24 years old, Aldo has the opportunity to deliver exciting fights to fans for a long time to come.
1. Phil Davis
When you get your nickname from your old cat that ran away, it’s pretty obvious that you possess a personality that casual fans will love. Davis has that rare ability to blend a down to earth personality with world class abilities. The former Penn State wrestler has looked nothing short of dominant in his three previous UFC fights. Come Saturday if another one sided performance is put on, it would become rather clear that Davis has big things and bright lights ahead of him. He is anything but cocky, often deflecting on how much he still needs to learn as opposed to talking himself up. Yet to get caught up in his own hype, Davis treats every opponent with the utmost respect, firmly believing that everyone is the best guy he has ever faced. With a grappling intensive style, you would think that some fans may find him boring but that is hardly the case. He dominates opponents on the ground, often attempting submission after submission in hopes that he can end the fight. Davis has realized what so many other wrestlers failed to, jiu jitsu is a beautiful compliment to wrestling. He has the ability to take the fight where he is best suited to end it. When it is all said and done, Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis has the personality and skills to headline UFC events for a long time to come. And if a potential bout with fellow phenom Jon Jones doesn’t make you salivate, I think you may be in the wrong sport.
The list above doesn’t even include you fighters who will already be headlining cards including Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, Jon Jones, Ryan Bader, Frankie Edgar, and more. The UFC is hitting its stride, and I’m proud to be able to witness it.