The UFC has arguably the strongest roster in the history of the organization. There are numerous fighters on the cusp of breaking into the top 15 rankings. With just one or two more victories, there are five fighters than can drastically shake up the UFC as we know it.
Today, we look at five fighters who have had an impressive showing early in their UFC careers. If you haven’t placed money on these fighters as of yet, you may want to look into doing so. The sky is the limit and you can do that at the best betting platforms you find over here. Without further ado, here are the unranked fighters who will be ranked soon.
Dricus ‘Stillknocks’ Du Plessis
UFC middleweight Dricus Du Plessis has had a strong showing early in his UFC career. In two appearances, Du Plessis has earned stoppages against Markus Perez and Trevin Giles. Winner of four straight, Du Plessis is primed for the top 15 and would likely already be there had it not been for a few unfortunate circumstances.
Du Plessis agreed to step in on short notice against No. 10 ranked middleweight Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 273. It presented a big step up in competition and a huge opportunity for Du Plessis to invade the UFC’s top ten. Unfortunately, Gastelum withdrew from the contest after his original opponent Nassourdine Imavov had to back out due to visa issues. Considering the UFC was confident in giving Du Plessis that spot, there is no doubt that he will be considered should another opportunity present itself.
Jeff ‘El Jefe’ Molina
Earning his way into the UFC after appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series, Jeff Molina has remained unbeaten in the Octagon thus far. His official debut came at UFC 261 where he bested Aoriqileng via unanimous decision. ‘El Jefe’ followed that up with an impressive second-round knockout of Danel da Silva in October.
Molina did experience some slight controversy in his bout with Zhalgas Zhumagulov on Saturday night. Molina won the bout via a close split decision, but before the scorecards were completely read, Molina began to walk out of the cage expecting a loss. Instead, he was awarded the bout, the scorecard reading 29-28, 28-29, and 30-27. Many fans were utterly confused by the 30-27 card for Molina. Nonetheless, ‘El Jefe’ weathered an early storm from Zhumagulov and earned his third straight victory in the Octagon.
Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett
Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett is the man everyone is talking about these days. After two high octane performances inside the Octagon, Pimblett is primed to be the UFC’s next big breakout star. After facing some early adversity in his promotional debut against Luigi Vendramini, Pimblett stormed back with an impressive first-round knockout that got the APEX crowd going.
Since then, Pimblett has been making a name for himself outside the cage. His infectious personality matched with his love for binge eating has been entertaining fans in between his fights. In March, he returned to his home country to compete at UFC London. There, he gave another spectacular performance, knocking out Rodrigo Vargas in the first round. In July, he returns to London once again to face Jordan Leavitt.
Already a fan favorite, the UFC will no doubt look to capitalize on the opportunity to create the next big draw. It’s likely a short matter of time before we see Pimblett breaking into the rankings.
With that last name, how can you not expect Umar Nurmagomedov to have top 15 written all over him? Cousin to former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, Umar Nurmagomedov is undefeated in his professional career. Debuting for the promotion in 2021, he defeated Sergey Morozov via a rear-naked joke. He would likely be closer to breaking into the rankings had it not been for a knee injury that put the fighter out for over a year.
Nurmagomedov returned to the Octagon in March and secured his second straight rear-naked choke submission victory over Brian Kelleher at UFC 272. Originally Nurmagomedov was scheduled to face No. 14 ranked bantamweight Jack Shore. Unfortunately, that fight never moved forward. Nurmagomedov will continue to work his way into the rankings when he faces Nate Maness on June 25th.
Alex ‘Poatan’ Pereira
This one may seem a little premature, but few fighters have made a splash as fast as Alex Pereira. At UFC 268, Pereira made a crowd-pleasing debut when he knocked out Andreas Michalidis with an incredible flying knee just seconds into the second round. He followed that performance up with a unanimous decision win over Bruno Silva four months later.
Now ‘Poatan’ has been thrust into the spotlight when he faces the always controversial No. 5 ranked middleweight Sean Strickland at UFC 276. A win against Strickland would catapult Pereira into the top ten, possibly even the top five depending on the performance. Even a closely contested loss would still show the UFC that Pereira is ready for top-shelf competition.
What fighters do you think are primed for a spot in their division’s top 15?
Featured image credit to Embed from Getty Images