Top 10 Young Guns in the UFC

Jake Martin@JakeMartinSECCorrespondent IIIAugust 21, 2012

Top 10 Young Guns in the UFC

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    Youth combined with unparalleled athleticism is starting to become a trend in the UFC.

    Because MMA is such a young sport, new waves of talent develop quicker and burst onto the national scene in a big way.

    These young fighters are well-versed in every area of the game and look like future Hall of Famers in their very first fight in the biggest company in MMA. Sooner than later, conversations start to emerge about a fighter becoming the greatest of all time at the age of 25. Oh Jon Jones, you are a special breed indeed.

    Pound-for-pound greatest conversations aside, these are the top fighters under the age of 27 in the UFC.

10. Dennis Bermudez

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    Dennis Bermudez has been on a roll since losing to Diego Brandao in the TUF 14 finale.

    Bermudez is currently on a two-fight win streak, and after he tapped Tommy Hayden with a guillotine at UFC 150, he's turned heads in the featherweight division.

    Bermudez poses problems for everyone he faces in the division because of his excellent striking, dominant wrestling and underrated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

    Had Bermudez not been caught with an armbar against Brandao in the finale, he would have most likely won that fight as he was getting the better of the striking exchanges. But because that night favored his opponent, Bermudez opens up the list of best young guns in the UFC.

9. Edson Barboza

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    Even though Edson Barboza is coming off of a loss to Jamie Varner, the sky is still the limit for this great lightweight.

    There are strikers—and then there's Barboza. This guy carries heavy leg kicks and sports a vicious Muay Thai attack.

    This has allowed him to climb the ranks in the lightweight division, and he was undefeated before falling to Varner.

    Barboza will most likely win the Knockout of the Year award for his stimulating spinning wheel kick KO against Terry Etim, which was a finalist for "Play of the Year" in ESPN's ESPY awards. Oh, and anytime you make ESPN in any kind of way as an MMA fighter must mean you're doing something right.

8. Jimy Hettes

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    Jimy Hettes is a savage.

    The guy has incredible judo skills to go along with an intense top game. It's the very reason Hettes is 10-0 and 2-0 in the UFC. Both wins in the UFC came against game opponents, as he finished Alex Caceres and dominated Nam Phan.

    Hettes' striking isn't spectacular, but it's good enough for him to close the distance and grab a hold of his opponent.

    Once Hettes grabs his man, they're going for a ride.

7. Chan Sung Jung (Korean Zombie)

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    Could Chan Sung Jung really upset Jose Aldo?

    After his victory against Dustin Poirier, fans are clamoring over a possible Korean Zombie title shot. More importantly, they're actually debating if he can be the one to end Aldo's reign as champion.

    Since the UFC-WEC merger, Zombie has finished all three of his opponents in exciting fashion.

    It seems as if the more air time this guy gets, the better he becomes, and if he ever gets a coveted shot at Aldo, it would make for one of the best fights of the year. How could it not be? The Korean Zombie refuses to have a boring fight.

6. Anthony Pettis

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    Speaking of exciting fighters...

    Anthony Pettis is a dynamic striker who poses a real threat on the ground with his submissions. More specifically, you don't want to get caught in a triangle when fighting Pettis.

    Of Pettis' actual three submissions in his MMA career, every opponent tapped out in a triangle, but since joining the UFC, Pettis has displayed more of his striking.

    In his last bout at UFC 144, Pettis put Joe Lauzon to sleep with a perfectly-placed head kick in the first round. Can 2013 be the year "Showtime" gets his hands on that UFC belt?

5. Alexander Gustafsson

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    For the love of God, Alexander Gustafsson needs to fight Jones.

    Fans don't want to see Jones face Mauricio "Shogun" Rua or Lyoto Machida in a rematch because, well, we've seen how that plays out.

    Rather, let's give this exciting young prospect a shot. Gustafsson is an outstanding boxer with great foot movement and a reach that could rival Jones'.

    With a record of 14-1 and four finishes in his last five victories, Gustafsson is destined to face Jones in 2013. He just has to get by Rua first.

4. Michael McDonald

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    How can you not love Michael McDonald?

    The guy doesn't say much in pre-fight interviews, but once he enters the cage, he generates a lot of noise with his highlight-reel knockouts.

    McDonald may very well be the best boxer in the bantamweight division, and a future matchup with Dominick Cruz or Renan Barao would be a crowd-pleaser.

    McDonald hasn't lost in the UFC and finished his last two opponents by knockout. At 21 years of age, it's only a matter of time before McDonald becomes a UFC champion.

3. Rory MacDonald

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    No ifs, ands or buts about it—Rory MacDonald is a future champion.

    In fact, the only thing holding him back from becoming champion next year is the fact that his good buddy and mentor, Georges St-Pierre, holds the belt.

    MacDonald is as well-rounded as they come, and furthermore, he's sure to be the next GSP. There are absolutely no holes in this kid's game, and that's why a match with B.J. Penn this year is so heavily hyped.

    MacDonald is so talented that Penn could experience deja vu when they meet at UFC on FOX 5. Flashbacks of UFC 94 are sure to ensue.

2. Jose Aldo

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    Jose Aldo looks unbeatable.

    Aldo can take out any fighter in any form he chooses. He has the skills to take the other man down and submit him, but why do that when you can beat him senseless on the feet?

    Aldo's striking is similar to a buzzsaw. If this guy connects with a combination, his opponent will be in a world of pain and trouble.

    Since winning the WEC featherweight championship (now UFC featherweight championship), Aldo has defended his belt five straight times successfully. With no signs of his reign stopping anytime soon, Aldo could go down as one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

1. Jon Jones

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    Unfortunately for Aldo, he doesn't receive the attention he deserves because of another young champion in the UFC.

    Of course, that champion is the light heavyweight champion, Jones. Jones is spectacular. Heck, he has to be to draw an argument as the greatest fighter in the world with Anderson Silva still around.

    Since winning the belt last year, Jones has successfully defended it three times against former light heavyweight champions, and he made it look pretty easy.

    Though Machida and Evans landed strikes on the champion, we have yet to see Jones really in trouble, and after having 11 UFC fights, that in itself is remarkable. If Jones continues to demolish his competition, he'll go down as the best ever in MMA history.