10 UFC Breakout Candidates

Dan Hiergesell@DHiergesellFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2012

10 UFC Breakout Candidates

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    Fighters often come out of nowhere.

    Whether from general obscurity or an unknown promotion, the UFC has capitalized in the past by showcasing talented fighters on the rise.

    Some have proven themselves outside of the Octagon while others strive to make a big splash in the world's biggest MMA organization.

    Today the UFC employs more than a handful of fighters that have a chance to take their respective divisions by storm.

    Here are 10 names you may not yet know much about, but possess the ability to break out in 2012 and beyond.

Michael Kuiper

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    Before making his debut back at UFC 143, Michael Kuiper of the Netherlands was undefeated at 11-0.

    His victories outside of the UFC were products of heavy hands and a well-rounded Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.

    The 23-year-old may only be two fights deep into his UFC career, but with a recent TKO victory over Jared Hamman at UFC 150, Kuiper could be finding his groove.

    It's hard to say if the Dutch fighter is a future title contender, but he's surely part of a deepening UFC middleweight division.

John Moraga

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    John Moraga proved in his UFC debut last month that he's a force to be reckoned with in the flyweight division.

    The 28-year-old recently dropped down from bantamweight and looks primed to serve as one of the division's most powerful strikers.

    Moraga's only loss to date came back in 2010 against top flyweight contender John Dodson via unanimous decision.

    Besides that, the Mexican-American fighter has been unstoppable.

Francisco Rivera

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    Francisco Rivera may not be the first name that comes to mind when mentioning title-contending bantamweights, but the 30-year-old possesses a lot of momentum heading into 2013.

    Rivera has opened his UFC career with back-to-back wins, including a recent first-round KO of Roland Delorme at UFC 149.

    If the evolving Rivera can secure another highly impressive finish in his next bout, then he should see a top-five bantamweight by the end of next year.

    Sometimes power is everything, and Rivera surely has it.

Andrew Craig

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    Undefeated middleweight Andrew Craig seems ready to challenge some of the UFC's most tenured fighters.

    The 26-year-old has been very impressive throughout his two UFC fights, showcasing an impeccable chin, sound wrestling and powerful strikes.

    If Craig can stay focused, evolve his submission game and get a bit quicker on his feet, he should have no problem continuing his winning ways.

Bryan Caraway

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    Bryan "The Kid Lightning" Caraway's bantamweight debut couldn't have went better.

    It was evident that Caraway's drop down from 145 pounds created a completely different fighter.

    The 28-year-old is now powerful enough to take backs, implement serious ground-and-pound, and utilize his awesome Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game.

    Another submission victory over an established veteran could launch Caraway into the division's top 10.

Sam Sicilia

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    When a fighter possesses the raw power that Sam Sicilia does it's difficult to cap his potential.

    The Ultimate Fighter alum can literally end a fight at any moment.

    His first Octagon bout outside of the reality TV show is set to take place at UFC 153 against Rony Mariano Bezerra.

    Sicilia will be dropping down to featherweight for the fight. 

    It's a fantastic move for the young fighter because he's now exiting a crowded lightweight division as well as putting his power to better use.

Dennis Bermudez

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    In a recent submission victory over Tommy Hayden at UFC 150 Dennis Bermudez looked downright dominant.

    The 25-year-old has clearly worked on his submission game as well as maintaining his bulldog approach inside the cage that made him a popular personality on The Ultimate Fighter.

    With a NCAA Division I wrestling background and naturally heavy hands, "The Menace" seems like a complete fighter.

    He's quite possibly the biggest breakout candidate on this list.

Jussier da Silva

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    Even though Jussier da Silva is currently ranked as one of the best flyweights in the world, his UFC potential is still up in the air.

    He just hasn't faced the best of the best

    With that said, da Silva is so talented that he could very well run through the 125 pound division and make a run at the title by the end of next year.

    He's young, tough and sports one of the best submission arsenals around.

    As long as "Formiga" doesn't get bullied by John Dodson at UFC on FX 5 his future within the UFC should be full of accomplishments.

Wagner Prado

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    It was the eye poke heard around the world.

    The one that prohibited Wagner Prado from continuing his UFC debut against Phil Davis last month.

    For Prado, a 24-year-old Brazilian, the fight was beyond disappointing.

    He didn't have the chance to showcase his powerful hands.  He didn't have the chance to prove his worth within one of the UFC's deepest divisions.

    The bottom line is that once the light heavyweight has the opportunity to put his hands on an opponent, the world will know what he's all about.

Ryan Jimmo

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    As a fighter you aim to impress.

    Nothing is greater than viciously dismantling your opponent in the matter of seconds.

    Canada's Ryan Jimmo did exactly that in his debut at UFC 149 against Anthony Perosh.

    Jimmo secured his first UFC KO in just seven seconds.  It not only tied the record for quickest KO in UFC history, but it put the entire light heavyweight division on notice.

    The 30-year-old Karate black belt is no joke. 

    If Lyoto Machida is any indication of what a Karate-based fighter can do then Jimmo has serious potential.


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