UFC 172: 3 Rising Stars to Watch for on the Fight Card

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterApril 24, 2014

Andre Fili
Andre FiliUSA TODAY Sports

In a UFC context, the wattage doesn't get much higher than Jon Jones. So it doesn't get much hotter than a Jon Jones fight, and that's what happens Saturday at UFC 172 when he defends his light heavyweight title against Glover Teixeira.

But wait! There's more. No, it's true. There are actually 10 fights on the card. Weird, I know. But the full slate at UFC 172 is stacked. There are great veterans and some great up-and-comers, too. Here are three fighters in the latter category that you should keep your eye on this weekend.

Chris Beal

Though he didn't make it through The Ultimate Fighter 18, Beal still hasn't lost an official pro fight. He has a wrestling base, but his big weapon is power punching. He's starting to throw more combinations and sprinkle in some knee strikes and whatnot as well. He can also land takedowns, at least when he's not facing a top-caliber wrestler like Patrick Williams, the Arizona State product Beal will face at UFC 172.

It's tough to say with certainty, but I think Beal has an excellent chance at his first UFC victory if he can stay off his back and away from any crazy haymakers.


Getting it!!! Let's do the damn thang #ufc172 #knuckleheadz #RDCB #royalsportsmgmt #mytime #805💚 http://t.co/l2YQLdWyOy

— Chris beal (@RealDealCbeal) April 25, 2014


Bethe Correia

In her UFC debut, the Brazilian scored a minor upset in defeating a far more experienced Julie Kedzie. But what stood out was that the youngster handled herself with the resolve of a veteran, displaying poise to match her aggression.

Correia (left) and Kedzie fought in Correia's UFC debut.
Correia (left) and Kedzie fought in Correia's UFC debut.Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Though Correia is 30, she's still very new to the sport and still growing. That growth will be helped along by her training team, anchored by "The Pitbull Brothers," Bellator stars Patricio and Patricky Freire.

Saturday, she'll try to go to 8-0 on her career when she faces Jessamyn Duke, the popular TUF 18 contestant who will hold a seven-inch reach advantage in the contest. Correia's game is more blunt instrument than fine scalpel—no spinning wheel kicks or slick submissions here—but she should be able to escape an entertaining scrap with another good young fighter and keep her own momentum rolling.

Andre Fili

Complain all you want about Joseph Benavidez and Tim Elliott being left off the main card. It's not the decision I would've made, either. But all is not lost. Fili and Max Holloway are going to put on a show, methinks.

Both these guys like to strike, but unlike the younger Holloway, Fili's game is a little more rounded. Coming out of Team Alpha Male, as Fili does, your wrestling has to be good. You can't just roll around with Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber all day and not acquire good wrestling. People may have caught his UFC debut against Jeremy Larsen and assumed those clinch knees and big overhands were his bread and butter. And, well, yeah, they are, but he knows how to work the mat, too. I wouldn't be surprised to see Fili dirty this one up with takedowns, more clinch work and some ground-and-pound or a submission attempt. And I definitely wouldn't be surprised to see him run his UFC record to a crisp 2-0.


This is my super hero pose. "Captain Touchy" to the rescue. @thememorytag teamalphamale #ufc #mmahttp://t.co/Rpkaa4L1Rj

— Andre Fili (@TouchyFili) April 25, 2014


Scott Harris writes about MMA and MMA prospects for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter if you feel so inclined.