Chris Hall: Who's going to be the next big draw? Is that possible in current landscape? Basically he's going to step into GSP's role as biggest superstar.
Mookie Alexander: It's Jon Jones by default, but I don't think he's ever going to attain the stardom that GSP has. People enjoy his fighting style but are turned off by his personality, and he doesn't go a card without being booed by at least 25% of the crowd in attendance (and this pre-dates the UFC 151 debacle).
After that? It's pretty much Ronda Rousey or bust. No one draws at 155 or below and Pettis is not reliable enough as a healthy fighter to become a star. Weidman could become a decent star just by beating Anderson twice on big PPVs, but just like Jones, the "it" factor that GSP, Brock, Chuck, etc. had is lacking in Weidman.
I just don't see where the next big draws come from for the UFC outside of those two, and between Rousey and Jones I'd side with Rousey as the UFC's meal ticket.
Steph Daniels: Robbie Mothatruckin Lawler. He's gonna be that silent but violent, Chuck Liddell type.
Zane Simon: Conor McGregor has serious potential at 145 to be a draw. As much as people like to talk about being sick of his shtick, or thinking he gets way too much undo credit, he sells himself better than 95% of the fighters on the roster. And if he can continue fighting well, he'll keep turning heads.
Otherwise it pretty much is Jones by default unless Pettis can seriously step up his PR game and get on TV more.
Tim Burke: Poppies Martinez.
Anton Tabuena: At the moment, only hardcore fans in the MMA bubble know who McGregor is. Plus, an unproven fighter coming back from ACL surgery isn't really someone to bank on as the 'next' draw regardless of how much Dana pushes him.
Gustafsson and Pettis both have real potential to be the breakout star that casual fans can care about, provided that the former can beat Jones and the latter can remain healthy.
Steph Daniels: Poppies got beat up recently at Bellator.
Tim Burke: The Tachi Kid does not lose. It had to be a referee error or something. Poppies Martinez is the FUTURE.
Steph Daniels: I know, I know. Bellator and their shifty refs.
KJ Gould: I don't even know. So many momentum shifts, so many potentially embarrassing outbursts on social media and it's hard to say who can get a rabid audience behind them. Maybe it'll be a Brazilian guy who speaks fluent English and connect with the North American audience, maybe it'll be another Canadian who can rally that great white north sports patriotism. I can't see it being an American any time soon for some reason, or a European.
Steph Daniels: I hope it's Barnetto.
Tim Burke: I don't think it'll be a Canadian, we just don't have any insanely good prospects coming up right now (with the possible exception of Alex Garcia). With GSP out of the picture, the obvious best fighter in the country is Rory MacDonald. And he's a bit of a weirdo, even for us. Some might lean towards T.J. Grant, but I don't ever see him as a breakthrough draw.
If there's anyone, I honestly believe it could be Chris Weidman. If he gets through Anderson a second time, the sky's the limit for the guy. He's got skill, charisma, honor, and he'd be the perfect All-American face for the organization.
Brent Brookhouse: If (and it's a massive if) Weidman can stop Silva again, I think there's a real chance for him to be a breakout star. He's from an area with a large population, two wins over the GOAT, young, at least to this point not really an obnoxious dude. The potential is there.
Zane Simon: Anton "only hardcore fans in the MMA bubble know who McGregor is." Pretty much describes every ufc fighter right now with the exception of Jon Jones, and his popularity feels more or less peaked, it probably isn't but it feels that way. The problem with most of these guys is enjoying talking to people. Velasquez is basically silent, Weidman has barely been able to bend the needle since beating Silva, Hendricks has some potential, but he'll have to show it a lot, lot more, and Pettis feels like less of a name at 155 than Frankie Edgar right now. It's all about who will step up into the media spotlight constantly, and honestly Jones and Rousey are the only Champions even coming close to that media presence right now.
Anton Tabuena: I meant that even fans that regularly watch UFC shows have no idea who he is. The guy hasn't even fought on the main card yet. Only the most hardcore of MMA fans have seen him fight, plus he's coming off a serious injury. People should calm down with saying he's the next mainstream draw.
Zane Simon: I'm saying he could be. he actually goes on talkshows, and makes media appearances. Is Chris Weidman on Conan? No. He's not even on Jimmy Fallon's show.
Mookie Alexander: Now the X factor I guess for Weidman is he's a Long Island guy, and Garden City is like 10 freeway exits (15 minutes on a good day) from Queens and I guess.... 30-40 mins from Manhattan?
If MMA gets legalized in NY and the UFC starts holding events there, a New York star (Endicott doesn't count) could be just what the doctor ordered.
Zane Simon: Could be.
Anton Tabuena: He's on there because of the UFC PR machine working overtime in hopes of buying a country. Even with your analogy, Weidman is still by far the bigger draw.
Media appearances alone don't mean much, especially if it's just from a big PR push and not genuine interest. If it did, ONE FC would be the biggest promotion on the universe.
Trent Reinsmith: If Daniel Cormier ends up earning a UFC title, I can see him taking this role. However, if that happens it will not be a long term thing, After all, Cormier is not the youngest fighter on the roster.
KJ Gould: And he strikes me as a predominantly reflex fighter.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't like Weidman's chances here.
Jon Jones for sure. Especially if Silva loses this weekend, he'll be the clear #1 in the world right now, which goes a long way.