The UFC is always looking for its next big star. While most won’t be as popular as Conor McGregor, they can certainly fight at the highest level. Some of these fighters may be future champions, and others may just put on a good show. Here are six breakout UFC fighters to watch out for in the near future.
1. Vicente Luque
Don’t let Vicente Luque’s record fool you. Although he’s 17-6-1, he’s easily one of the most underrated UFC fighters. He’s won 10 of his 12 fights in the UFC, and he’s finished nine of his opponents. Luque is as tough as they come, and he’s skilled in every area of the sport. Not only can he knock out his opponents, but he can choke them out easily, too.
The UFC is finally giving Luque his big test, as he’ll fight the highly ranked Stephen Thompson at UFC 244. If Luque can beat Thompson, a tough task, then he may get a shot at the title soon. And even if he loses to Thompson, we can expect Luque to put on a show. He’s never had a boring fight.
2. Zabit Magomedsharipov
A friend of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Zabit Magomedsharipov proves himself to be a highly-skilled, exciting athlete. With a record of 17-1, the well-rounded fighter is currently undefeated in the UFC. With the nickname “Lincoln” due to his striking resemblance to the president, Magomedsharipov has been tested by many high-level fighters and he’s passed every time. Fans can expect him to fight for a title in the near future.
3. Islam Makhachev
Another friend of Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev is 18-1 in the UFC. After UFC 242, Nurmagomedov placed his belt in front of Makhachev and called him a “future champion.” While Makhachev isn’t undefeated, the well-rounded fighter could be a future champion when Nurmagomedov retires. He hasn’t beaten enough people to contend for a title yet, but give him a year or two.
4. Johnny Walker
The light heavyweight division has been dominated by Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for years, but now it has new blood. Johnny Walker is a Brazilian fighter who’s knocked out his three UFC opponents in less than three minutes combined. Not only is he a knockout artist, but he’s also hilarious to watch. Walker is known for doing goofy things inside the octagon. His string of exciting wins combined with his fun personality means he’s close to a title shot. Like Luque, even if he loses, it’ll be a fun fight to watch.
5. Ciryl Gane
One of the latest additions to the UFC roster, Ciryl Gane is an exciting heavyweight who may take the division by storm in the next few years. The striker is not only powerful but blisteringly quick, too. Although Gane is relatively inexperienced in the UFC, he has a lot of kickboxing experience. As a result, he is a potent mix of power, speed, and skill. If Gane can win a few fights, then he’ll be the next great UFC knockout artist.
6. Zhang Weili
Yes, she’s the women’s strawweight champion, but Zhang Weili is still poised to be the next big star of the UFC. Her victory against Jessica Andrade drew a lot of attention in China, her home country, but she’s still relatively unknown elsewhere.
Right now, Weili hopes to defend her belt multiple times and potentially even move up in weight to challenge Valentina Shevchenko for the women’s flyweight belt. She’s already a champion with only four UFC fights, so if she can do both those things, she’ll be the next big star of the UFC.