2015 has been a huge year for UFC. A young star by the name of Conor McGregor took over the world while becoming the new Featherweight Champion, Jose Aldo took his first loss in 10 years, and one of UFC’s biggest stars of all time, Ronda Rousey had her undefeated streak knocked out of her by Holly Holm. There’s no doubt UFC was on fire in 2015 with so much talent. But, I’m here today to give you my top 5 UFC fighters to look out for in 2016 as they get their career started.
“Super” Sage Northcutt
This 19 year old upstart has been taking the lightweight division by storm. Creating a buzz for himself after his impressive UFC debut, when he defeated Francisco Trevino on October 3rd at UFC 192. He went on to then defeat Cody Pfister on December 10th at UFC Fight Night 80. Though he’s only had two fights in UFC, he’s undefeated in his whole MMA career with a record of 7-0. With the buzz this kid has around him this early in the game, there’s no doubt he will be a huge star in 2016.
“12 Gauge” Paige VanZant
Another young competitor at the age of just 21, VanZant has been in UFC since 2013. She was signed to the newly created Strawweight division. Though signed in 2013, her debut wasn’t until November 22nd, 2014. She defeated Kailin Curran in her first UFC fight, then went on to defeat Felice Herrig on April 18th, 2015. Continuing her win streak, she then defeated Alex Chambers on the 5th of September. Paige VanZant then took her first UFC loss from Rose Namajunas on December 10th, 2015. With a current MMA record of 6-2, I feel as if Paige will bounce back from her recent loss; and dominate the Strawweight division come 2016.
“The Wizard” Ryan Hall
At 30 years of age, Ryan Hall was a contestant on the 22nd season of The Ultimate Fighter. He made it all the way to the quarter finals where he lost by decision to Saul Rogers. Rodgers made it to the finals, but legal issues knocked him out of the competition. He was then replaced by Ryan Hall who had another chance to win a UFC contract when he challenged Artem Lobov in the finals on December 11th, 2015. Hall defeated Lobov to become the 22nd Ultimate Fighter. Everyone is looking forward to seeing if Ryan Hall can bring it in 2016. I believe he can, as there is a huge future for this fighter.
“Juicy J” Julian Erosa
At the age of 26, Julian is 15-3 in his MMA career. He also was a competitor on the 22nd season of The Ultimate Fighter. Julian Erosa made it to the semi-finals of the competition against Artem Lobov where he was defeated. He would get a chance to prove himself to the UFC again on December 11th, 2015. On that day, he defeated Marcin Wrzosek by decision. Getting a second chance to be in the UFC is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hopefully Juicy J can prove that he deserves to be in UFC, and has a hell of a 2016. Look out for him.
“Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman
With a 7-1 MMA record, Usman was a contestant on the 21st season of The Ultimate Fighter. He made it to the finals and defeated Hayder Hassan on July 12th, 2015 to become the 21st Ultimate Fighter. Following his first official UFC victory, his second fight would come nearly 5 months later where he defeated Leon Edwards on December 19th, 2015. Heading into 2016 on a 2 fight win streak in the UFC, this exciting wrestling technician is ready to dominate the Welterweight division, and I can’t wait to watch!
Those are my Top 5 Fighters to look out for in 2016. Of course, there are plenty more, and I look forward to seeing them all compete, as well as new faces in the UFC. 2015 was a huge year, and hopefully 2016 will be even bigger.