20 fighters who could become stars in the 2020s

January 2, 2020

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20 fighters who could become stars in the 2020s



By: Nolan King – Well, another decade of mixed martial arts action is in the books.

The 2010s featured the emergence of superstars such as Jon Jones, Conor McGregor, and Ronda Rousey. For the first time in UFC history, a simultaneous double champion was crowned in McGregor. And then it happened again (Daniel Cormier, and again (Amanda Nunes, and again (Henry Cejudo).

The next decade almost is guaranteed to provide us with the next generation of UFC, Bellator and PFL champions. But who are the likely candidates to become future stars?

From hot UFC and Bellator prospects to fighters on the regional scene, to athletes yet to compete in MMA, the up-and-comer harvest is plentiful. Who could be the next McGregor? The next Israel Adesanya? The next Zhang Weili?

Let’s take a look into MMA Junkie’s crystal ball and see who could cross the threshold into stardom over the span of the next decade.

Two parameters were set for this list:

Fighters must be younger than 30.
Fighters must not yet have held a major organization’s title.

Fighters who fit the criteria but seemingly already have achieved stardom were not considered.

Maycee Barber
Record: 8-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC
Age: 21
Weight class: Flyweight
Height: 5’5″
Birthplace: Greeley, Colo.
Next Fight: Jan. 18 vs. Roxanne Modafferi at UFC 246 in Las Vegas

Paulo Costa
Record: 13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC
Age: 28
Weight class: Middleweight
Height: 6’1″
Birthplace: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Next Fight: TBA

Mike Davis
Record: 8-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC
Age: 27
Weight class: Lightweight
Height: 6’0″
Birthplace: South Cairo, N.Y.
Next Fight: TBA

Ciryl Gane

Record: 6-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC
Age: 29
Weight class: Heavyweight
Height: 6’5″
Birthplace: France
Next Fight: TBA

Christian Edwards

Record: 2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA
Age: 21
Weight class: Light heavyweight
Height: 6’5″
Birthplace: Oklahoma
Next Fight: TBA

Nasrat Haqparast

Record: 11-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC
Age: 24
Weight class: Lightweight
Height: 5’10”
Birthplace: Germany
Next Fight: Jan. 18 vs. Drew Dober at UFC 246 in Las Vegas

Valerie Loureda

Record: 2-0 MMA, 2-0 BMMA
Age: 21
Weight class: Flyweight
Height: 5’4″
Birthplace: Miami
Next Fight: TBA

Zabit Magomedsharipov

Record: 18-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC
Age: 28
Weight class: Featherweight
Height: 6’1″
Birthplace: Russia
Next Fight: TBA

Islam Makhachev

Record: 18-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC
Age: 28
Weight class: Lightweight
Height: 5’10”
Birthplace: Dagestan, Russia
Next Fight: TBA

A.J. McKee

Record: 16-0 MMA, 16-0 BMMA
Age: 24
Weight class: Featherweight
Height: 5’10”
Birthplace: Long Beach, Calif.
Next Fight: TBA

Geoff Neal

Record: 13-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC
Age: 29
Weight class: Welterweight
Height: 5’11”
Birthplace: Austin, Texas
Next Fight: TBA

Bo Nickal

Record: 0-0 MMA
Age: 23
Weight class: TBA
Height: 6’1″
Birthplace: Rifle, Colo.
Next Fight: TBA

Sean O’Malley

Record: 10-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC
Age: 25
Weight class: Bantamweight
Height: 5’11”
Birthplace: Helena, Mont.
Next Fight: Feb. 8 vs. Jose Quinonez at UFC 247 in Houston

Yair Rodriguez

Record: 13-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC
Age: 27
Weight class: Featherweight
Height: 5’11”
Birthplace: Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico
Next Fight: TBA

Max Rohskopf

Record: 4-0 MMA
Age: 25
Weight class: Welterweight
Height: 6’0″
Birthplace: Killbuck, Ohio
Next Fight: TBA

Cory Sandhagen

Record: 12-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC
Age: 27
Weight class: Bantamweight
Height: 5’11”
Birthplace: Aurora, Colo.
Next Fight: TBA

Edmen Shahbazyan

Record: 11-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC
Age: 22
Weight class: Middleweight
Height: 6’2″
Birthplace: Glendale, Calif.
Next Fight: TBA

Tatiana Suarez

Record: 8-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC
Age: 29
Weight class: Strawweight
Height: 5’5″
Birthplace: Covina, Calif.
Next Fight: TBA

Petr Yan

Record: 14-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC
Age: 26
Weight class: Bantamweight
Height: 5’7″
Birthplace: Russia
Next Fight: TBA

Sodiq Yusuff

Record: 10-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC
Age: 26
Weight class: Featherweight
Height: 5’9″
Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria
Next Fight: Jan. 18 vs. Andre Fili at UFC 246 in Las Vegas

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