By; Adeel Anwar
1/7/2017 10:20 AM
The 5 UFC Rising Stars of 2017
This list is in no particular order but is simply a list of who we believe you should look out for in the upcoming year.
1. Mickey Gall
After obliterating CM Punk's first and only foray into MMA, Mickey went on to best UFC wonder boy Sage Northcutt in a decisive fashion to prove he was not a flash in the pan. He was extremely confident in his own skills as displayed in his interview after the CM Punk fight when he let people know that he beat CM Punk’s ass.not because he was bad at MMA but because Mickey was just great. He fights out of Miller Brothers MMA and has been dominant in every one of his fights thus far. Being well rounded with effective striking and terrific abilities on the ground as well with powerful wrestling and jiu-jitsu, look for Mickey Gall to become a household name in 2017.
2. Paige Van Zant
It seems that ever since the UFC was sold by the Fertitta brothers, rather than being a meritocracy, the fights that generate the most revenue are put together. Paige Van Zant fits this new UFC to a t, with her beautiful looks and terrific promotional abilities, Paige is able to draw an audience from various demographics and this in turn lines the pockets of WME-IMG. Even though she lost 2 of her last 3 bouts, she will continue being put on future UFC cards because of her wide reaching crossover appeal. The women’s strawweight division is currently in a period of growth with no clear cut challengers after champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk.
3. Khabib Nurmagomedov
In some people’s eyes, Khabib Nurmagomedov has already arrived, but in the eyes of others he is just a nobody who gets injured far too often to be of any real consequence. I think it’s absolutely silly to hold someone in low regard simply because they get injured, especially if that someone is the Eagle of Dagestan who just completely annihilates all of his opposite with his combination of sambo and wrestling. I think that the matchmakers in the UFC have also treated Khabib unfairly because of the fact that he speaks with an accent and every foreign fighter seems to have trouble gaining traction with UFC head honchos. He already has a scary good resume with wins over MMA vets Pat Healy and Michael Johnson, along with a devastating win over former UFC Champion Rafael Dos Anjos. Khabib s slowly but surely proving that he is a dominant figure in the sport with his next bout expected to be against Tony Ferguson and then hopefully a super match with Conor McGregor will take place.
4. Cody Garbrandt
The 25 year old kid out of Uhrichsville, Ohio has a captivating story personal story along with captivating abilities in side of the ring. Currently riding hot on an 11 fight win streak, Garbrandt has looked better with each and every outing in the octagon and that is so technically sound that he made Dominick Cruz look like a slow, unfit fighter. He literally put on a clinic in UFC 207, taunting Cruz multiple times throughout the fight, making it seem as though he is on a level all by himself in the division. Look for him to fight TJ Dillashaw who also had a terrific performance versus John Lineker and already has a built in rivalry with Cody from their time at team Alpha Male. Cody has already arrived but we believe that his star with shine even brighter in 2017 with him defending his belt throughout the course of the entire year and remaining champion until 2018.
5. Kelvin Gastelum
The skills that Kelvin Gastelum possesses are ever present but he continues having issues managing his weight. There is no doubt in my mind that the 24 year old is one of the most intriguing prospects in all of MMA, with an exciting style of fighting that pushes the action, Gastelum has made minced meat of MMA veterans Tim Kennedy, Nate Marquardt and Johny Hendricks. He looks kind of like the guy next door, with no real muscle definition but has one of the most well rounded skill sets in all of MMA delivering powerful strikes while being amazing at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If he can keep his weight in check, the welterweight division is his for the picking but if he is unable to then look for him to have some trouble in the middleweight division as he gives up quite a bit of size to fighters such as Luke Rockhold.
Think we missed anyone? Let us know in the comments section below!