10 UFC Stars in the Making

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

10 UFC Stars in the Making

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    Various budding talents grace the Octagon on any given night.

    From KO specialists to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenoms, the spectrum of each division's growth expands beyond our very own eyes.

    It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow.  But down the line, the copious amount of athletes that grace the UFC will one day stumble into stardom.

    Here are 10 names destined for that growth.

Ryan Jimmo

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    It took Ryan Jimmo no more than seven seconds to showcase his star potential in the UFC.

    Jimmo literally knocked out Anthony Perosh with two punches.  Can you imagine what he can do in 15 minutes?

    Regardless of how you divulge his historically record-tying KO, it's important to remember that he had already made a name for himself before debuting in the UFC.

    Having won every single one of his bouts since losing his first professional fight, it's no wonder why Jimmo's black belt in karate seems prone for immediate Octagon success.

Erick Silva

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    Buried by the very best welterweights in the world, Erick Silva's future title potential is often overlooked.

    With black belts in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Silva is arguably the most talented fighter outside of division's top five.

    Part of Team Nogueira, he's constantly training with guys like Anderson Silva, Junior dos Santos and Jose Aldo.  That type of real-life experience alongside world-class champions has given the 28-year-old a unique opportunity to manifest his striking abilities to an entirely new level.

    Silva also seems to be one of the bigger and stronger competitors at 170 lbs., having moved down from middleweight to welterweight earlier in his career.

    If he can finish Jon Fitch at UFC 153 in Brazil, his budding stardom will finally come to fruition.

Stipe Miocic

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    Ohio's Stipe Miocic seems to be the real deal in the heavyweight division.

    As a former Golden Gloves boxer and NCAA Division I wrestler, Miocic possesses the complete package to make a title run sometime within the next year.

    The undefeated 29-year-old has dominated every heavyweight opponent the UFC has thrown in front of him.

    From beating a hard-noised Joey Beltran in his Octagon debut to securing back-to-back TKO finishes over submission expert Phil De Fries and standup specialist Shane del Rosario, the Mirko Cro Cop lookalike hasn't missed a step.

    An upcoming fight with Stefan Struve should indicate whether or not he's truly ready to face the division's elite forces.

Michael McDonald

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    Bantamweight phenom Michael McDonald is as legit as they come.

    A recent hand injury may have kept him out of an interim title bout with Urijah Faber, leading to Renan Barao's fill-in role, but the 21-year-old has all the time in the world to get healthy.

    Through his last two UFC fights, McDonald has secured first-round knockouts over Alex Soto and Miguel Angel Torres.

    His victory over Soto won Knockout of the Night honors and his quick finish of Torres propelled him to the top of the division.  Torres had only been knocked out once before that.

    As of right now, at such a young age, it's going to be interesting to see how the next year plays out for McDonald.

    He arguably possesses the most devastating KO power the bantamweight division has ever seen and is very well-rounded off his back.

    If he can secure another impressive finish in his next fight, whenever that may be, he could end up becoming the youngest champion in UFC history by the end of 2013.

Chan-Sung Jung

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    Chan-Sung Jung has arguably been the most successful fighter in the UFC since coming over from the WEC last year, having gone 3-0 with some of the biggest wins in recent memory. 

    He defeated Leonard Garcia in his UFC debut via twister, a submission never pulled off before in the UFC.

    He then went on to knockout Mark Hominick, one of the division's best strikers, in just seven seconds.  That's tied for the quickest finish in UFC history.

    His most recent victory, over top title contender Dustin Poirier, happened to be one of the best fights of the past five years.  Jung ended up submitting Poirier in the fourth round after getting battered in the previous three.

    So by all accounts, on top of two Submission of the Night awards, a Knockout of the Night award, a Fight of the Night award and a Submission of the Year award in 2011, "The Korean Zombie" has been one of the best fighters around.

    A future bout with Jose Aldo could cherry everything he's worked for.

Glover Teixeira

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    Glover Teixeira is taking the UFC by storm.

    Not only did his recent destruction over Kyle Kingsbury capture the attention of the light heavyweight division, but Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's recent unwillingness to fight the Brazilian has many people wondering.

    Exactly how good is Teixeira?

    Well, considering he hasn't lost since 2005, finishing 13 of his 16 wins via first-round TKO or submission, the 32-year-old seems to be the real deal.

    Going forward it's going to be hard for any light heavyweight to contend with Teixeira's Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and devastating KO power.

    His upcoming fight with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson should give fans a closer look at one of the quickest rising stars in the UFC today.

Jussier Da Silva

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    Not too many people know who Jussier da Silva is.

    But by all indications, regardless of his general obscurity, da Silva should be able to top the UFC flyweight division within the next year.

    Currently ranked as the No. 3 flyweight in the world, da Silva will make his promotional debut against the formidable John Dodson at UFC on FX 5 in October.

    The former Shooto South American champion has submitted his last four opponents, which suggests Dodson better protect his neck.

    Food for thought, Ian McCall is the only fighter ever to have defeated da Silva inside the cage.

Chris Weidman

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    Everybody should know who Chris Weidman is by now.

    He's a young, undefeated wrestler from New York and a guy who recently ran through Mark Munoz with a standing elbow.

    Many consider Wediman the quintessential No. 1 contender in the middleweight division and a somewhat reasonable choice to take down Anderson Silva with his overwhelming pace.

    Now while beating Silva is truly a stretch of the imagination, Weidman should still be considered a superstar in the making.

    Future bouts with either Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, Brian Stann, Chael Sonnen or Tim Boetsch will show why he's truly a future champion.

    Sort of like a 185 lb. Frankie Edgar.

Travis Browne

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    The UFC is finally giving Travis Browne the opportunity to face a top-five heavyweight.

    Unfortunately for Antonio Silva, he's that guy.

    Currently undefeated and borderline unscathed throughout his UFC career, Browne has showcased some of the most well-rounded skills any young talent can possess.

    With a big frame, solid boxing and an evolving grappling game, the 30-year-old has proven that he can stand and bang, land strikes in the clinch and secure submissions.

    At this point it seems as if Silva will go 0-2 to start out his UFC career. 

    Browne is just too athletic and too hungry to miss a beat in the biggest fight of his life.

Alexander Gustafsson

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    The epitome of potential, Alexander Gustafsson's promise within the UFC is forever growing.

    "The Mauler" has gone 6-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming at the hands of top light heavyweight contender Phil Davis.

    Throughout his six victories, the 25-year-old has won three times via TKO and twice via submission.  He has finished off the who's who of the division's gatekeepers and is now setting his sights on the title.

    Gustafsson's big frame and worthy boxing ability seems to be the most formidable style to counter that of Jon Jones'. 

    He'll probably have to beat two more big names in the division to get there, but considering their similar skills and young age, Gustafsson and Jones could become this era's Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz.

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