UFC 2016 Featherweight Prospects
Which prospect are you looking forward to seeing fight next?
Doo Ho Choi (#14)
Since Doo Ho Choi's arrival in the UFC in late 2014, he has accumulated 3 straight wins in the UFC. All 3 of Choi's wins have been by knockout in the 1st round. His last two knockouts over Sam Sicilia and Thiago Tavares, two mainstays in the featherweight division, earned The Korean Superboy performance of the night bonuses. Finally breaking into the Top 15 of the division, Choi is looking to break into the Top 10 in his next fight, calling out Cub Swanson (#7) after his last win.
In a recent interview with the press, Doo Ho Choi has now asked for any top fighter, saying he would fight "Conor McGregor, Frankie Edgar....I'll fight all of them".
Doo Ho Choi has the potential to continue making waves in the division and a Top 10 win by the end of the year could see him in contention in 2017.
Yair Rodriguez (#12)
Another exciting prospect in the UFC's featherweight division hails from Mexico and the winner of the inaugural TUF Latin America. Yair Rodriguez has only picked up momentum since his TUF Finale win at UFC 180 in late 2014. "El Pantera" has become a quick fan favorite and rising prospect with his exciting and flashy style which landed him a main event spot on a Fox Sports 1 card against Alex Caceres in his most recent fight. .
Since his first win at UFC 180, Yair has accumulated 4 more wins bringing him to a total of 5-0 in the UFC. Yair's style of throwing flashy kicks and various spinning attacks has made him a fan favorite and was brought to the fore front when he knocked out Team Alpha Male's, Andre Fili at UFC 197 with a jumping switch kick. Following that performance earned him a main event fight in just his 5th fight in the UFC as Yair Rodriguez headlined UFC Fight Night 192 against Alex Caceres. Throughout all 5 rounds Yair kept the pace and flashy style through all 5 rounds to a split decision victory over UFC mainstay Caceres.
With no fight lined up as of yet, another fight before the end of the year is still a possibility and looking to carry his momentum as he gets closer to entering the top 10 of the featherweight division. More exciting and impressive performances against top 10 competition could see Mexico's next rising star fast tracked to a title shot in 2017.
Brian Ortega (#10)
A Gracie Academy product, Brian Ortega brings an active and dangerous ground game to the featherweight division. Despite being in losing positions in a couple of his recent fights, Ortega has found ways to secure finishes and not letting it go to the judges hand. Still with a perfect record of 11-0, Brian Ortega has found himself in the Top 10 of a stacked division.
Ortega joined the UFC 2014 and every one of his wins has been through finishes late in the fight in the 3rd round. It's not just his heart that makes him a fan favorite but his exciting ground game with constant transitions and attacks and sweeps from his back. One of the most active and dangerous guards at 145. Despite being known for his ground game and affiliation with the Gracie Academy, Brian Ortega has two wins by knockout too, one over long-time veteran Clay Guida in his most recent fight.
Brian Ortega was lined up to fight #11 ranked Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 96 in October but was forced to pull out due to injury. Hopefully "T-City" is back in action soon as he stakes his claim to move up in the rankings even more so by the end of the year.
Jeremy Stephens (#7)
Despite being a mainstay in UFC's 155 division earlier in his career, Jeremy Stephens revitalization at 145 has him eyeing the Top 5 and potential title aspirations in the future. While not undefeated like others on the list, Jeremy Stephens has earned major wins over former bantamweight champion Renan Barao and Top 10 fighter Denis Bermudez in recent fights and his losses have only come to other top contenders such as Charles Oliviera and Max Holloway in competitive bouts.
Following his unanimous decision win over Renan Barao at UFC Fight Night 88, Jeremy Stephens is eyeing a fight with Frankie Edgar to propel himself into the Top 5 and add another signature name to his resume. Besides his recent success at 145, Stephens has other marquee wins on his resume including a knockout over former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos.
While not having a clean record like other young contenders in the divsion, Stephens has massive power and the ability to end any fighter's night with one punch and still finds himself near the top of one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Another big win and impressive performance like his one against former champ Barao and Stephens could find himself only one more fight away from a title shot in 2017.
Anthony Pettis (#6)
Former lightweight champion and contender emerged straight into the featherweight top 10 rankings after dropping down and beating the #8 contender, Charles Oliviera, in his first fight at 145 in impressive fashion. In what was a competitive bout, Pettis remained calm and even submitted the black belt with a guillotine choke in the 3rd round after being threatened by Oliviera's ground game the whole fight.
Despite being on a 3 fight skid prior to his drop down to 145 and losing his belt, Pettis was always dangerous and even went to a split decision over the current 155 champ, Eddie Alvarez. Pettis felt a new environment and challenge was needed to kickstart his career once again. 145 was a former destination prior to Pettis becoming lightweight champion earlier in his career when he was scheduled to fight then champion, Aldo in a title fight before being forced out with injury.
Now, Pettis finds himself with a great opportunity to fight once again for a title and have the potential to make history and become a two-division champ. Coming into the division immediately at #6, Anthony Pettis does not find himself far away from a title. Vying for a fight against #3 Max Holloway who himself is trying to earn a title fight against either interim champ, Jose Aldo or the champion Conor McGregor. If McGregor comes down to unify his belt against Aldo, Pettis could easily find himself in a #1 contender bouut against Max Holloway. 2017 could be fruitful for featherweight's newest addition and history could once again be made if Pettis can reach the top of the mountain once again in his new home at 145.