At UFC 153 Erick Silva will be facing his toughest test in former welterweight title contender Jon Fitch. The move represents a huge step up for Silva and could propel the 28-year-old into stardom.
He's already regarded as one of the best prospects in the UFC. Despite his age, Silva has only competed in 17 professional bouts since stepping into the cage back in 2005. He's gone undefeated in the UFC bar a disqualification against Caro Prater—a fight many consider a win for Silva.
Silva is just one of many Brazilian prospects who are beginning to make their way through the rankings. With legends like Anderson Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira entering the twilight of their careers, it will be up to the young prospects to lead the way for Brazilian MMA in the future.
Diego Nunes has had some high-profile bouts in his UFC tenure, but it's hard for anyone to consider him much more than a prospect at this point. He's one of the more experienced fighters on this list with 21 professional MMA bouts but should be entering his athletic prime and emerging from the prospect role.
Nunes has faced tough guys like Kenny Florian and Dennis Siver but also lost against both men. That just reaffirms the point that Nunes isn't ready to move from prospect to contender just yet. He's coming off an unanimous decision victory over Bart Palaszewski and will look to win back-to-back fights for the first time in his UFC tenure.
For Nunes to realize his potential, the Brazilian will need to start finishing fights (something he hasn't done since 2008) and win the tough fights against better competition.
Although Erick Silva looks like an 18-year-old youngster, the Brazilian is actually entering the prime of his career. Yet Silva is still considered a prospect by most due to the low number of fights he's been in.
The Brazilian entered the UFC with a bang, literally. Silva first stepped into the Octagon against Luis Ramos and walked away with a 40-second KO victory. His bout against Caro Prater ended in controversy, but it's a fight many view as a win for Silva. In June, Charlie Brenneman fell into the path of Silva as the Brazilian was able to secure a rear-naked choke in the first round.
With a top-notch group of training partners like the Nogueira brothers and Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Silva only has one way to move up in terms of ranking in the UFC.
Glover Teixeira entered the UFC with quite a bit of hype surrounding him from the MMA community. Although he's a relative unknown to many fans, those who pay attention to the international scene knew it was only a matter of time before Teixeira took his talents to the Octagon.
After starting his career at a pedestrian 2-2, Teixeira has won 16 straight fights, including wins over Marvin Eastman, Ricco Rodriguez and Marcio Cruz among others. The Brazilian thoroughly dominated Kyle Kingsbury in his UFC debut and looked to prove the hype was real.
Originally scheduled to face Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Teixeira will look to enter the upper level of 205-pounders by taking out fellow Brazilian Fabio Maldonado at UFC 153.
Thiago Santos is primed to make some noise in the heavyweight division. He began his career in Brazil by going 5-0 and sports a 11-1-1 record since moving to international competition.
Santos was last seen being the victim of yet another groin kick from Eric Prindle. Their first meeting ended in a no-contest as a result of a groin kick, and the rematch at Bellator 75 ended in similar fashion except Santos was awarded the victory this time.
The Brazilian holds a victory over notable Brazilian heavyweight Geronimo dos Santos and also a win over Neil Grove in Bellator. At only 25 years of age, Santos should have a bright future ahead of him.
Wagner Prado's UFC debut was anything but fruitful. Prado faced former Division I All-American wrestling champion Phil Davis, but an inadvertent eye poke rendered the Brazilian unable to continue.
Prado entered the UFC having never lost an MMA bout with only one of his fights lasting until the final bell. Prado brings a Muay Thai background with heavy punches and kicks. He also trains with Team Nogueira, which is sure to provide Prado with a solid ground game.
The rematch between Davis and Prado was briefly believed to happen on Oct. 5 but will now go down Saturday night at UFC 153.
I know it's hard to call anyone who has a championship belt a prospect, but it's just as hard to call Eduardo Dantas an elite-level fighter.
Dantas won the Bellator bantamweight title in April after defeating Zach Makovsky via arm triangle choke. The win was undoubtedly the biggest of Dantas' career but will certainly be overshadowed by his defeat at the hands of Tyson Nam in Brazil.
The Brazilian had Nam hurt initially but was dropped with a counter hook and lost the bout via KO in under two minutes.
A striker by trade, Dantas can depend on a solid grappling base due to training with Nova Uniao. At just 23 years of age the future is very bright for a fighter who has already won a world title.
Perhaps those that proclaimed Edson Barboza to be the next Anderson Silva were a little ahead of themselves. The Barboza-hype train was full steam ahead prior to facing Jamie Varner.
It was expected that Barboza would use Varner as a highlight-reel KO, but instead Varner resurrected his career at the Brazilian's expense. Still, the loss was the first of Barboza's career and doesn't take away from the potential he displayed in his young MMA career.
The loss should be a turning point in the 26-year-old's career as the loss will only serve to motivate and educate the Brazilian.
Since entering Bellator in 2011, Luis Nogueira has had a couple of opportunities to climb into the ranks of title contenders.
He lost a quarterfinal bout against Ed West at Bellator 51 and lost in the season six tournament against Marcos Galvao back in Aug. Nogueira started his career with a 4-0 mark before losing to eventual bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas.
Nogueira is only 27 years old, and if he can get over the proverbial "hump" in his career, he should reach the potential fans placed upon him prior to coming to the United States.
It's hard to believe that a talented fighter like Charles Oliveira is only 22 years old. The Brazilian entered the UFC with a bang, submitting the tough Darren Elkins in under a minute.
Since then, it's been a bit of a mixed bag of results for Oliveira prior to dropping down to featherweight. The drop to 145 pounds looked to be a successful career move as Oliveira won his first two fights at featherweight via submission, including a Submission of the Year candidate with a calf slicer.
Oliveira had some trouble making weight in his last contest, and his fight with Cub Swanson ended in a weird way as Oliveira fell to the canvas after a delay from taking a strike to the head.
"Da Bronx" is a talented fighter, and at such a young age, he has a bright future ahead of him.
Diego Brandao is an exciting young fighter from Brazil who made a name for himself in the States by winning The Ultimate Fighter. Nobody in the TUF house wanted to fight him, and for good reason; the Brazilian looked downright scary during his stint on the show.
In the finale, Brandao landed an amazing armbar submission over Dennis Bermudez. Brandao's career was expected to take off after the win, but he fell to Darren Elkins at UFC 146. The loss snapped a four-fight win streak for the Brazilian.
Brandao has a strong camp behind him at Jackson's MMA and has displayed numerous traits that all quality fighters must have. At this point, it's just a matter of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.