The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the leading mixed martial arts organization in the world and currently it is in its prime popularity. 2015 has been a big year for the UFC, but 2016 has started in an even greater way. In 2015, the promising fighter Conor McGregor made his debut and became the new Featherweight Champion by defeating the 10-years-undefeated ultimate fighter Jose Aldo in only 13 seconds, while the undefeated streak of Ronda Rousey has ended with a knock-out by Holly Holm. In just the beginning of 2016, we’ve seen McGregor being defeated by the famous vegan UFC fighter Nate Diaz. But it’s safe to assume that this is only a scratch on the surface of 2016. Here are 5 up-and-coming UFC fighters you should watch this year.
Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera
Jimmie Ernesto Rivera is one of the most famous names in the UFC world, mainly due to his astonishing 18-fight winning streak. Competing in the bantamweight division of the UFC, Jimmie seems like he’s on his way of making a record number of wins in a row. After his elimination from The Ultimate Fighter by Dennis Bermudez, the famous “El Terror” has won every single battle, making his name a common feature on magazines’ front pages. Since 2015, he’s received his UFC call-up and won 3 UFC fights. Considering his long winning streak, Jimmie Rivera is surely a name we’ll be reading a lot this year.
At the age of just 22, Paige VanZant is a young fighter who might dominate this year. She made her professional MMA debut in 2012 and currently competes in the Women’s Strawweight division of the UFC, where she’s ranked 9th. In 2013, VanZant was one of the 11 women fighters who were promoted in the newly created women’s UFC division. As soon as she turned 21, Paige made her UFC debut and marked her beginning of her career with a win by defeating Curran. Although her 2-and-a-half-year winning streak has ended at the end of 2015, Paige VanZant could definitely bounce back and rock the Strawweight divison this year.
Even though McGregor started 2016 with a loss, he’s never short of confidence to challenge a fighter from any category: from flyweight to heavyweight. The Irishman who holds the record for fastest knock out in a mere 13 seconds against Aldo is currently preparing for his rematch with Nate Diaz that will take place this summer in Las Vegas. Diaz is the one who ended his winning streak in the beginning of this year. However, UFC and McGregor fans should definitely expect their No.1 Featherweight Champion to punch his way back to glory by the end of the year.
Sage Monroe Northcutt
The 20-year-old MMA fighter in the welterweight division in the UFC is destined for absolute domination in 2016. Sage Northcutt was introduced to the world of UFC as a future star in the pilot episode of the UFC Fight Pass show “Lookin’ for a Fight”, hosted by the UFC president Diana White. This enthusiastic fighter begun training martial arts at the age of 4 and started competing on world-wide competitions from a very young age. The only thing more fascinating than his 77 world championships won in karate is his kickboxing undefeated record of 15 wins in a row. His 7-1 MMA record is something that certainly promises big things in 2016.
Thomas Almeida has some of the most impressive stats of all UFC fighters. With 16 of 21 wins won by a knock-out and only one loss of 22 fights, this Brazilian bantamweight champion is surely on his way to domination this year. The former Legacy FC Bantamweight Champion made his UFC debut in 2011 and as of June 2016, he stands 10th in the official ranking of UFC bantamweight division. Even though he lost his first fight in 2016, the 24-year-old Almeida has the skills, the drive and the experience to challenge a champion and steal his title.