Fighters On The Rise Entering 2018
As we close out 2017, I feel it’s necessary to look back on the year of fighting that was 2017 with mostly fond memories. We saw the Ultimate Spectacle between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor, we saw the highlight reel knockout of Allistair Overeem by the death fist of Francis Ngannou, we saw back and forth wars two of the best in my opinion featured Justin Gaethje. 2017 was a monumental year for combat sports.
I can honestly make a case that Poirier should have been 3-0 in 2017, instead he holds an awkward 2-0-1 record. His two victories over durable Jim Miller and former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis are noteworthy. Despite the loss to Conor McGregor during his days as a featherweight and a knockout loss to Michael Johnson, Poirier is a top three lightweight currently. What a career he has had. At point’s his career has featured two crucial setbacks and a move up to lightweight as thought of as a desperation move in salvaging his career. At the time it was fair to say. The UFC lightweight division has been a shark tank ever since it’s inception. Dustin is currently lobbying for a rematch vs Eddie Alvarez and frankly he should get one the fight makes too much sense for it not to happen. I hope we see that fight in 2018.
What a talented fighter this guy is. He has won three straight all via finish and has set himself up with a career and life changing fight vs Donald Cerrone. Medeiros owns wins over Sean Spencer ( submission), Erick Silva (knockout), and Alex Oliveria ( knockout). A main training partner of UFC Featherweight Champion Max Halloway, Yancy is a fancy fighter using highlight reel striking ability and a fundamentally sound BJJ game. Whether he defeats Cerrone or not I know one thing. This guy is just getting started.
Straight out of Bellator MMA, Pico is a rising star and some would say (myself included) that Pico was propped up vs a dangerous veteran opponent a little too early. The 21-year-old took on MMA veteran Zach Freeman at Bellator: NYC and lost via submission in the first round. The fight was at Lightweight. Pico is a raw but talented prospect with a wealth of wrestling experience. Following his loss to Freeman, he followed it up with one of the best knockouts of 2017 at Featherweight which I believe should have been his true weight class all along. I have followed this kid’s career as a wrestler and watching him blossom into a top-level MMA fighter will be a treat to every fan. Pico is on the rise.
If you don’t know who Jimmie Rivera is chances are you prefer the flashy fighters. That is not Rivera. Rivera is a fighter who dominates his opponents any which way he can. He does so in a very tactical and technical way. Which has led him to an undefeated record inside the UFC octagon. Rivera owns wins over Iuri Alcantara, Urijah Faber, and Thomas Almeida. These are the last three fights of his career. Why this news is notable is that outside of those three notable opponents Rivera doesn’t have many marquee wins and was set to lock horns with longtime former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz of course got hurt and was forced to pull out of the fight. The UFC scrambled and rescheduled and John Lineker took the spot only to get hurt a week before UFC 219. Rivera’s next step is unknown but regardless he is a name people need to learn.
This guy I will say it right here right now. He is the future. Darren Till at some point will become a champion inside the UFC. His striking is unlike anything I have ever seen and that includes some of the more awkward but elusive strikers of year’s past. Names like McGregor,Machida, Silva, and Jones come to mind when I watch Till. Now all of those guys are or were champion’s of the sport. I truly believe Till has the striking capability to blow through the opposition at the true shark tank division of MMA the Welterweight division (170lbs). Nobody feels the need to sign for a fight with this guy and frankly I can’t blame them. In a league full of tough guys Darren Till is the toughest apparently.
Currently ranked the #6 women’s Bantamweight fighter in the UFC, Calvillo is setting herself up with a big 2018 but it all depends on the outcome of her bout vs Carla Esparza at UFC 219. Calvillo carries a 6-0 record one that featured a win that I got to see cage-side at UFC 210 vs Pearl Gonzalez. Calvillo is a durable battle tested fighter. I expect a title shot to come her way if she can string a few wins together. She is marketable entertaining and provides fans with someone fresh and new to cheer for learn the name.
When he isn’t savagely tweeting virtually every fighter on the roster (mostly Tyron Woodley) Covington is taking names and kicking the crud out of some of the sports most well-known names. His performance versus former number one contender Demian Maia was stuff of legend. It was a slobber knocker performance but one in which Maia was badly badly hurt on multiple occasions. Nobody has ever done that to Maia. Not Anderson Silva and not the current before mentioned Welterweight Champ Tyron Woodley. That win was huge and it gave Covington a trampoline to bounce on. Channeling his inner Chael Sonnen, Covington has had boomerangs launched at him by Fabricio Werdum and has fought online with virtually everyone in and outside the UFC. If his goal was to get noticed Colby can say mission accomplished. First he had my curiosity now he has my attention.
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