Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet. It first came into prominence in 1993 with the conception of the UFC. That has since become the premier organisation in the sport and is head and shoulders above any other. As the sport has grown, there have been huge international stars, that have helped propel the sport to new levels of popularity. Athletes such as Ronda Rousey, Conor Mcgregor and Brock Lesnar have turned MMA into a mainstream sport. Meanwhile, Fighters such as Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre and Demetrious Johnson have cemented themselves in the history books as some of the greatest fighters of all time.
While it would be nearly impossible to predict who will add their names to the list of most popular or greatest fighters ever, it is possible to highlight those who have the potential to achieve greatness. Here is a profile on some of the hottest prospects in MMA.
Few fighters can be considered sure things in the sport of MMA. It is almost impossible to keep an undefeated record and most fighter’s weaknesses get exposed before they can win a world championship. Liverpool’s Darren Till can be considered a sure thing. Till has a record of 16 wins and no losses with one draw. Till has earned victories in his last three fights, most recently beating veteran and former number one contender Donald Cerrone with a first round TKO. That win put Till up to number seven in the UFC welterweight rankings, where he is now earmarked to be a future world champion.
Till has seen success in mixed martial arts because of his incredible kickboxing background and unique size for someone competing at the 170-pound weight class. Till is only 24 years old and is perfectly lined up to have a great career in MMA.
Brazilian native Paulo “the Eraser” Costa, has quickly put himself in line as one of the top-rated middleweights on the planet. Costa is 11-0 in MMA with 10 of those wins coming by way of knockout. Costa is just 26 years old and has already won his first 3 UFC fights. His most recent victory at UFC 217, over former welterweight champion Johnny Hendricks earned Costa the 15th spot in the middleweight rankings. Costa’s physical stature for a 185-pound fighter is very noticeable and adds to the potential star power of the Brazilian prospect.
Zabit “ZaBeast” Magomedshapirov is a name worth remembering as it belongs to one of the top prospects in MMA today. The Dagestan native is abnormally large for a featherweight standing at 6’1 tall. Zabit is 14-1 in MMA and is just 26 years old. Zabit made his UFC debut in September and is already 2-0 in the organisation. The Russian fighter has garnered attention In the MMA world for his unique, versatile offensive style.
MMA is at the forefront of women’s sports today. Fighters like Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm have helped make women’s MMA as popular as the male contingent of the sport. Cyntia Calvillo is the next big thing in Women’s MMA. Calvillo is 30 years old and has a record of 6-0. She is currently ranked 7th in the Straw-weight division and will fight former champion Carla Esparza at UFC 219 at the end of the year
23-year-old Arnold Allen has quietly established himself as one of the most promising MMA prospects in the world. Allen is 12-1 in MMA and 3-0 in the UFC. Allen is an exceptional British talent that is very well rounded for a fighter as young as he is. Allen most recently beat fellow featherweight prospect Markwan Amirkhani in March of this year.
Mixed martial arts is rapidly evolving at a pace like no other sport. The multiple disciplines entwined in the sport means that no one is completely well rounded. That means that each generation of fighter must be improved on its predecessor. The five fighters that the Circular has identified in this piece are prime example of the next generation of mixed martial artists. They are well on their way to capturing UFC gold.