Top Up and Coming MMA Fighters
Well this is a list that usually isn't expressed much in MMA sites; it's a list of fighters that are up and coming in the sport of MMA.
I believe those on this list will be top fighters in the sport one day. It's a list of ten fighters and is not in any specific order, other than the number one who I think will most likely be the best of these fighters.
Again this is only speculation, not a ranking or a pound for pound best list. Don't troll in the comments, and if I forgot any fighters you think should be on this list, let me know.
1. Gegard Mousasi (28-2-1)
Not only can you consider the “Dream Catcher” a top pound for pound best in the world, he can definitely be in the top up and coming fighters.
To start with he’s only 24 years of age and has 31 fights: 28 of these fights being wins, 1 being a draw, and only 2 losses.
On top of being in his early 20s, he’s won the European fighter of the year award of 2009. Mousasi has also won four different belts: Cage Warriors Middleweight Champion, Dream Middleweight Grand Prix Champion, Dream Middleweight Champion, and the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion.
He is the current holder of the Strikeforce light heavy championship and Dream Middleweight Championship.
Again may I repeat at age 24, 4 different championship belts, 31 fights with 28 wins (That’s a 90% winning percentage for those fans of Math and percentages out there) and only two losses in his career.
For starters nobody else on this list has even 25 total fights, let alone over 20 wins. The closest in fight experience being Thiago Alves, who's 26 years old having only 22 total fights but only has 16 wins compared to Gerard’s 28 and Alves has 6 losses compared to Gerard’s 2.
Now obviously in comparison to competition, Alves is dealing with a lot more in the UFC, however this is not a pound for pound competition. It’s a speculation on up and coming fighters.
That being said, Mousasi is two years younger than Alves, has more ring experience, and a much larger gap in win to loss ratio.
Now camp wise and training Mousasi was asked to train with, not joined or attended but asked by Fedor, who’s arguably the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world to train with him (I personally say he is, which I explain in much more detail in my lb. for lb. best article.).
Now for a young fighter, that’s a great camp to be cultivating your skills at. Not only has he’s been training with Fedor, he’s now going to be training with Georges St.-Pierre in Florida. That’s two different champions and pound for pound best in the world he’s training with.
Now added this great record in MMA and training, he’s also 7-0 in kickboxing. So that’s a total of 38 total professional bouts in the fighting sports before he’s turned 25 years of age.
That’s more than double the fights than 8 of the others fighters on this list (Thiago was excluded from this statistic being he has a total of 22 fights and if you know how to add, that’s more than 38).
And I do not know the percentage on and I hate math so I don’t plan on figuring it out. But either way, he has the best record on the list, is coming from a great camp, is the current holder of 2 belts from legitimate organizations, has fought at multiple weight classes (185, 205, and heavyweight that I know of) and is one of the younger fighters on the list.
I would put money on him being very big in the near future. Maybe one day he’ll hopefully sign with the UFC and we’ll get to see what he’s really made of, especially with the UFC 205 roster being extremely stacked.
I think he would have a better chance at the 205 belt in the UFC than the 185 because sadly I don’t think he’d be able to touch Silva anytime soon.
But let’s just enjoy his fights at Strikeforce for now; he’s fighting King Mo for the title on the next CBS card, so let’s all wait and see how that plays out.
2. Cain Velasquez (7-0)
Cain Velasquez is quite the explosive fighter, who’s making quite a mark on the UFC’s heavyweight division. All except one of his fights have gone to decision; the rest are all TKO victories.
He only has five fights in the UFC, the other two from Strikeforce and Bodog. His most recent victories coming from very legit opponents in Ben Rothwell (TKO) and Cheick Kongo (Decision).
Besides his obvious superb striking and finishing ability, he currently holds a purple belt in BJJ and actually won a BJJ championship when he was a blue belt so he’s not lacking in a ground game.
Seriously, though, dude's crazy explosive, his fights don’t last at all. He just finds a way to take you down with his wrestling and then proceeds to find a position to just smash his victim's face in.
Besides the Kongo fight, he finishes his opponent very well with this strategy. Cain says he fights for Brown Pride or his Mexican heritage in a “win or die” type of mentality according to him.
This can be seen very visibly in his fight with Kongo, where Kongo is landing some vicious hits but Velasquez fights through to pull off a decision victory. I think Cain Velasquez besides Shane Carwin, has the best shot of taking Lesnar’s title. Now whether it happens or not is a different story.
I think Velasquez is faster with his hands than Lesnar and has better Jiu-jitsu than Brock. However Lesnar’s wrestling, strength, and G.P. (ground and pound) are definitely much better than Cain’s.
That being said, I think Velasquez's chin could hold Lesnar’s power for a little bit standing up and if it went to the ground, Velasquez only chance to win would be a submission. Simply because Brock is way too powerful for him to mess around in any other way on the ground.
I think if Cain uses his obvious speed advantage, he could catch Brock but again this is just speculation. Cain size and speed are a lot like Fedor, both him and Cain move like light heavyweights and are a lot smaller than most other heavyweights which seems to be working out for both of them.
I think if Cain Velasquez is given time he’ll be a serious force at heavyweight and a possible champion. I think the true test to see the type of caliber fighter Velasquez will be against Big Nog.
I believe this fight will show us all exactly the future he has at heavyweight.
3. Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves (16-6)
“The Pitbull” is strong, explosive, and tough S.O.B. If G.S.P does leave welterweight for a permanent move to 185, I’m calling it now 170 will be Thiago Alves.
He’s only 26 and has won 16 fights (BJ Penn is 15-5 if that means anything to anyone) and before his loss to Georges St. Pierre was on a 7 fight win streak.
As good as Alves is, if you saw the fight he had against St. Pierre, he was just completely dominated. You can’t even argue it being fight inexperience, Alves has 22 fights (even if he’s the younger fighter) and St. Pierre has 21 fights. St. Pierre I believe is just a better fighter right now.
That doesn’t mean in a few years Alves won’t beat him; just right now he can’t. Now if we remember this list is on up and coming fighters which means I am saying in due time Alves should be the king at 170.
He’s got a good camp at American Top Team to cultivate him into championship material. He’s also quite tough and got a lot of heart. In his fight with GSP he got manhandled and just beaten up.
But he stuck it through to the end, which I give him tons of kudos for doing. I think he’s a top striker and has a good ground game to back up his stand up. I think he’s going to blow up in few years and be a top pound for pound fighter.
He’s got a fight coming up against Jon Fitch. Now Jon Fitch has a chin of steel and just doesn’t know how to take a punch and stay down. Now with this type of fight I would really like to see how Alves does, being he’s a fighter who thrives on striking and knocking out his opponent.
Fitch is not one to be knocked out very easily and if Thiago Alves pulls it off, it’ll be quite impressive.
4. Ben “Smooth” Henderson (11-1)
He is the WEC lightweight champion and a fighter with a 10 fight win streak, 8 of which did not end in a decision.
He’s also received Sherdog’s “Fight of the Year in 09” added with college wrestling All American Honors.
As good as Henderson is at the WEC lightweight (which I think he’s totally going to start dominating over the next couple years) the only thing I have against him is I don’t think as of right now he could handle a lot of the lightweights in the UFC and a few in Strikeforce/Dream (guys like Aoki, Melendez, Alvarez, Thomas, etc.).
And honestly, I don’t know how he would do against Aoki and Penn in a few years; I think these other names he’d do better against.
I think Henderson is very talented and will be a dominant force against any lightweight but Aoki and Penn; well they’re Aoki and Penn. In order to be the best he would have to beat the best, and the best lightweights are Aoki and Penn.
If he fought either of those two, it would most likely be Penn, cause of the intermingling of WEC and the UFC under Zuffa.
I think Henderson could become the best lightweight in time; definitely if he keeps winning like he is currently.
5. Jon “Bones” Jones (9-1)
Dude is rawesome; he’s seriously an intense fighter with only 2 of his fights going to a decision. He has 5 T.K.O/K.O, 2 by submission, and 2 by decision.
Although I think he should have another T.K.O added to his list because I believe he was robbed of his win over Matt Hamill.
Yes, his elbows were illegal, I will agree to that, although I never heard of this rule previously. However the fight should have ended before the illegal elbows were delivered.
Jones broke Hamill's ribs on a takedown and was just beating his face in. Mazzagatti waited way too long to make a decision but it’s over now and it can’t be changed.
However it was very dominant performance; loss or not he dominated. His next fight will be against Brandon Vera, which will be interesting being they are both tall, quick/deadly strikers, and fight very similarly.
I would go as far to say Jon Jones is a better version of Brandon Vera. Now besides his super striking, his Greco-Roman slams are beautiful and graceful...as graceful and beautiful as throwing grown men to the ground can be.
I remember watching him against Stephan Bonnar where he was tossing him around the ring like a ragdoll (as cliche as that is, it’s the best way to describe it). Seriously he was tossing him in the most ridiculous ways, like ways he shouldn’t have been able to pull off in a MMA fight.
The only thing about this fight was he pulled off so many throws and slams he gassed and couldn’t finish the fight, but he did come away with a W which is still good.
To refresh my memory on this fight and his others I never I saw, I watched a YouTube highlight video of Jon Jones. Well to my surprise he likes to pull off spinning fricken elbows, which after witnessing him do this to many opponents (Bonnar being one of them), I can only reiterate the rawesomeness of Jon Jones.
I guarantee he will be a serious threat in the light heavyweight division within a few years.
6. Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal(6-0)
King Mo is one of the coolest fighters just because his entrances are so awesome and his team is “Kingdom of Mayhem”.
But this is not a list on coolness because then King Mo would be a lot higher up on the rankings. He’s a fight finisher with 4 fights ending by T.K.O and 1 by K.O. The other fight was a win by Unanimous Decision which is still pretty good.
King Mo's style is basically a combination of wrestling and “punch your face lots and lots.” In an interview before his last fight he stated wrestling is his base for fighting, it got him his wins so far and he’s going to stick by it.
He has strong take downs and heavy hands; he relies on just overpowering his opponents with takedowns and punches. I believe that although this is his strong point, it can also be his weakness.
He lacks a stronger skill set and when he fights an opponent of equal strength and has more skill to back them up I believe it will give King Mo some problems.
And well, he is going to have this in his next opponent in Gegard Mousasi, which I believe he’ll lose against.
However after this loss I think he will bounce back and do quite well in his future. I just don’t think he’s ready for an opponent of Mousasi’s level.
But hey, I may be completely wrong and King Mo could surprise me and pull off the win. You never know in the sport of MMA.
7. Bobby “King” Green (12-3)
On a list of coolest fighting styles ever, Bobby Green would be top 3. The style he goes by is called “Hood;” no lie it’s awesome. Want to know how awesome and powerful “Hood” style his last three fights were all in one month, 2 of which were wins, one by T.K.O and the other by K.O.
Sadly he did receive one loss in the streak of fights. Which in an interview with Aaron Tru he explains how he didn’t train once for any of his fights and for everybody to just wait for him to get a chance to properly train (which he is finally currently doing for his title fight at King of the Cage).
He’s been fighting 2 years and was suspended for 9 months of those two years (for his nut cracking of Joe Lauzon) with a total of 15 fights.
According to Green he’s been taking fights on two weeks’ notice and even 2 days notice. Now don’t think he can only finish fights by putting people to sleep which he’s won 6 fights by T.K.O/K.O, he has 5 wins by submission.
He’s an extremely exciting fighter. I would really like to see him get signed by Dream just because I think his personality would go over so well in Japan.
I think because of his natural talent and that he’s fairly young he’ll become a top lightweight fighter in the upcoming years.
8. Bobby Lashley (5-0)
Bobby Lashley is very green but is also able to overcome with his amazing athleticism, strength, and wrestling ability.
Lashley dominated Wes Sims in his last fight, no question, although Sims swears he was robbed from this fight. He claims that it was ended prematurely and apparently Lashley is a “juiced up monkey” and he doesn’t like being hit so that’s why he took him down (find the fight and watch it, I think you’ll understand the little rant I will now go on).
Well Mr. Wes Sims, No. 1, you’ve had 37 fights previous to the fight with Lashley, that’s 32 more than him so you should have been ready for a takedown added by G.P.
He’s a wrestler that’s what they do, number two why would he stand up and trade if he knows he can beat your face in on the ground, which he did.
He fought smart; you fought stupid. Wes Sims is what I like to call a real life internet troll. But enough about him; back to Lashley, he’s like Brock Lesnar he’s big, he’s strong, and he’s scary fast for a man of his size.
He took down an even bigger man than himself in Bob Sapp and smashed his face in. He actually got Bob Sapp to quit via verbal tap from punches.
Now the reason I say Lashley is so green you can see it in his fights, as dominating as they are his takedowns and ground and pound are not smooth as they should be.
You can see his inexperience and his reliance on pure natural talent. That being said, when he gets the experience and training to come, and he hits his stride, he’s going to be a serious contender in any promotion's heavyweight division.
He just needs more training, time, and fight experience, which he’s in the process of receiving.
9. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson (8-3)
Rumble Johnson is strong striker, which he should be since he’s trained with Cung Le. I like Rumble Johnson, but he’s kind of off and on; he looks like he’s hitting some kind of stride then goes and loses to Josh Koscheck.
Now don’t get me wrong; I still think he’s a top up and coming fighter, he just needs get his feet set in the record books with solid wins over solid opponents.
He’s only 25, so he’s young and has time to really start making an impact at 170. He’s got plenty of time; I believe he’ll eventually be a top welterweight much higher in the ranking than he is now and possibly become a top pound for pound fighter.
We’ll just have to wait and see like all the other fighters on this list.
10. Gray “The Bully” Maynard (9-0)
Gray is probably the oldest fighter on this list and is in a tough spot being in the same division as BJ Penn, who I don’t think Gray will be able to beat.
However, I think he could still take the number “2” or “3” spot eventually in the lightweight division. Unlike most fighters on this list he doesn’t have a whole lot of time to do so.
But I think he is currently in the process of being recognized as a top fighter, more so than he already is. He’s a grinder in his fights; almost all of his fights have gone to decision.
He’s got good wrestling and decent boxing, but I think his cardio/chin is his best asset. He’s a tough guy and I think he will continue undefeated until he faces Penn. I just don’t think that’s a hump Maynard can get over.