A lot of the time we get caught up on who is ranked, where and why. The fact that the official UFC rankings are dictated by the media is great, and sometimes scary. We often forget about the fighters not in the top 15, fighters who still give cards that extra boost helping them to become better all-around events for us fans. These 15 fighters are the 15 you should be looking out for in 2016. Who knows, maybe these fighters will crack the top 15 of their respective divisions by years end?
In a young and relatively thin division, it’s hard to find a non-ranked fighter that is compelling. The young Hawaiian (just 24 years old) is just 1-2 in the UFC. On the opposite side, her two losses have come in third round finishes in which she looked good for the first two rounds. She recently grabbed her first win by way of a Rear-Naked choke, over Emily Kagan at UFC Fight Night 80, but it is yet unknown if she can continue her success. To her credit, she’s young and athletic in a division with very little stars to its name. Curran came out of her last fight unscathed so we should see her in the early part of 2016.
Germain de Randamie
Women’s bantamweight, another division with limited potential outside of the top 15. Despite this, the newly signed Dutch striker is one of the few who could make some waves. In her return to the Bantamweight division, Randamie faced veteran Julie Kedzie at UFC on FOX 8. There she picked up her first Bantamweight win since 2011. After picking up a loss at Fight for the Troops 3, Randamie was out 16 months and returned to action at UFC 185 against Lauren Pacheco. The first round was tough and both fighters looked good, but ultimately Randamie ended the fight in the second round by TKO. At 31, the AKA product has a lot of fight left and could emerge a contender in 2016.
A viral video surfaced a while ago of a brazen tattooed coated champion being rude and forceful to a polite and clean cut contender at their weigh-in. The video ended with the champ knocked out cold and the polite contender left standing. That contender was Ben Nguyen, an American-born Australian native. He was picked up by the UFC in mid-2015 for a card in Adelaide, where he would prove he belonged with a first round KO with one second to spare. In another Australian card, UFC 193, Nguyen picked a second first round finish with a Rear-Naked choke over Ryan Benoit. The Taekwondo black belt is an exciting fighter who talks the talk and can walk the walk. With so many cards going ‘down under’, Nguyen should have plenty of opportunities to fight in 2016 and make a name in this loose Flyweight division.
The Bantamweight title changed hands in Boston not too long ago, and Rob Font got another finish on the prelims in his hometown. Font has fought only twice in 18 months, but both have been finishes. A CES vet with six straight wins before joining the UFC, Font is well known in the Northeast and now all over. His exciting style and articulate interviews make him extremely likeable and a guy everyone will know. With a fight in January and needing to make up the time, it will be a busy year for Font in the UFC.
Doo Ho Choi
In one of the UFC’s best divisions, rising stars are created every card. ‘The Korean Superboy’ Doo Ho Choi is not just one of many in these circumstances. Before joining the UFC in late 2014, Choi was in DEEP and ended his time there with five straight KO/TKO wins. He didn’t lose stride in his UFC debut with an 18 second TKO win over Juan Puig. In his native home of South Korea, Choi fought Sam Sicilia on the main card. While it took a little longer, Choi picked up another TKO win in a minute and 33 seconds. That brought his total to 11 straight wins, nine by KO/TKO. The division is quite crowded at the top, but they may have to make room for Choi sooner rather than later
Undefeated in the UFC? Check! Charismatic? Check! Just moved to one of the most notable teams in MMA? Check! If all of those apply, you must be Makwan Amirkhani. The Persian-born fighter became a sensation overnight with his eight-second TKO victory over Andy Ogle at UFC on Fox 14. He proceeded to take the mic from Joe Rogan and showed the world who he was. He would follow up his victory in Sweden with a submission win over Masio Fullen in Germany. In total; two wins and two finishes in a minute and 38 seconds of fight time. He trains with the now Featherweight Champion, Conor McGregor, in Ireland and will fight Mike Wilkinson at UFC London. With his charm and skill, Amirkhani is well worth watching on any given card.
In what, to me, is the UFC’s deepest divisions, a ton of non-ranked fighters are must watch this year. We start off with the Scot Stevie Ray who is 3-0 in the UFC. Mainly a European card guy, 2016 should be a busy year with a lot of cards happening over seas from the UFC’s main land. Ray has finishes over Marcin Bandel and Leonardo Mafra along with a decision win over Mickael Lebout at UFC Dublin. At just 25, Ray has already tasted MMA gold with the Cage Warriors Lightweight belt. The young Scot can’t take over Europe with the little Irish dude running around, but he’ll come close in 2016.
A little over one year ago we saw what some thought might be the knockout of the year when Paul Felder landed a spinning back fist on Danny Castillo. One year later, that guy is 1-2 since then and is coming off of his first ever submission win of his career. After dropping two straight to Edson Barboza and Ross Pearson, a little lighter match up with Daron Cruickshank gave Felder a more even bout. The two scrapped for two rounds, with the rounds likely split going into the third. Felder went all out and eventually got the Rear-Naked choke. With another win under his belt, the ferocious Philadelphia native will look to make a statement in 2016. He should continue to get tougher match ups as he keeps winning fights.
The Degestan express is here! With big names like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Ali Bagautinov also from the same small area in Russia, the talent is rich in combat sports. Magomedov is no different with four straight UFC wins and 12 straight in his career. While the style may not be all that exciting for finish connoisseurs, it is very effective for winning a fight. Fighting at Lightweight for the first time in his career, the young Dargin seems to be adapting to well to more skilled fighters and a drastic weight cut. One more win, maybe over a ranked opponent, could see ‘Highlander’ in the UFC rankings.
Another train rolling through! All aboard the Northcutt hype train! The young phenom who was first seen on Dana White’s Looking for a Fight, the freakishly gifted Northcutt has made the most oh his chance. He has two wins in under four months of being with the UFC. He has two finishes and is taking the next step in his career with a main card slot on FOX. He’ll face fellow undefeated prospect Andrew Holbrook at UFC on FOX 18 in Newark on January 30. If he continues his pace, Northcutt will be headlining Fight Pass cards in 2016.
The former BAMMA standout has needed just under two full rounds in the UFC to pick up his two TKO wins. The Englishmen joined the UFC in May with a TKO over Luiz Dutra Jr. in Brazil. The Birmingham-born made his way back to the UK for his last fight with Cathal Pendred at UFC Dublin. After breaking the nose of Pendred, he broke his spirit as well later in the first round for another TKO win. With nine straight career finishes, in a market that needs some excitement, Breese should have no problem finding big fights and looking good. His year starts at UFC London against Keita Nakamura.
The former TUF Brazil 3 winner has excelled one weight class down. After beating Marcio Alexandre Jr. in the fianl, Alves went back to his natural weight class of 170. Since that point we have seen three straight wins and the last two coming by way of Guillotine. With wins over Alan Jouban, Nordine Taleb and Colby Covington in his last three, Alves is well on his way for main card slots and bigger names.
In one of the most talent-rich divisions in the UFC, Sam Alvey stands out as one the top of the outsiders looking in. His last fight came in October with a TKO loss to now ranked Derek Brunson in Nashville. A win there would have pushed Alvey into the top 15. Before the loss, ‘Smile’ N’ Sam was on a three-fight KO streak over Dylan Andrews, Cezar Ferreira and Dan Kelly. Sam was expected to fight at UFC Pittsburgh next month, but suffered a broken jaw in training and was pulled from the fight
With many legendary names holding down-ranked positions, Tom Lawlor’s move to 205 will have to see immediate results. He did just that with a KO of top 15 guy Gian Villante at UFC on Fox 16. Lawlor had formerly fought at Light Heavyweight for TUF where he lost in the opening round to eventual winner Ryan Bader. Lawler will face a ranked opponent in Corey Andrews at UFC 196 with a chance to gain his spot among the 205’s top 15
No, you’re not seeing double! Ruslan Magomedov is a Heavyweight while Rashid Magomedov is a Lightweight. Ruslan has impressed as of late in a bogged down Heavyweight division. With nine straight wins in MMA competition, including two over former UFC champs Ricco Rodriguez and Tim Sylvia, Magomedov belongs in the UFC’s best. Three straight UFC wins have put him in bigger and bigger fights as we go. At just 29, and with the Heavyweight division getting older, Magomedov could be at the top at some point in his career. He fights former title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC Zagreb.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
- Interviews3 months ago
Exclusive: Alexander Gustafsson eyeing summer 2018 return- wants title shot next
- Opinion5 months ago
A list of fighters who fought Michael Bisping – while on steroids
- Interviews5 months ago
Sage Northcutt on Moving to Sacramento and Life at Team Alpha Male
- Rumours3 years ago
Proto MMA History: The Day Antonio Inoki Almost Killed The Great Antonio
- Cage Warriors5 months ago
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Inman Talks Cage Warriors 87, His Love For Fighting And Craig White Possibly Tiring Himself Out.
- BAMMA4 months ago
BAMMA 32: Official Results and Live Stream
- Interviews5 months ago
Tim Means on Lawsuit Against Supplement Companies “I’m Going to Shut Them Down”
- Interviews5 months ago
Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”