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The UFC's Next Superstar: The Contenders
It was around the mid-2000s when the UFC lived through its "Golden Age". Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva were legitimate pound-for-pound kings growing a dedicated following while former WWE superstar turned UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar was selling pay-per-views like hotcakes. A young Jon Jones was on his way to stardom and a slew of other stars like Randy Couture and B.J. Penn contributed their fair share of revenue. How long ago this era appears now.
Outside Conor McGregor, the Ultimate Fighting Championship lacks any other recognizable stars. Ronda Rousey is all but finished and Jon Jones is facing a lengthy suspension after yet another steroid scandal. The UFC has plenty of established talent like Demetrious Johnson and Daniel Cormier but they aren't stars. Not even the slightest.
What the UFC needs are up-and-coming talents who aren't only great fighters but have the "It" factor. These fighters have the ability to make the fans care. When they speak, people listen. What they do on social media makes headlines. They have the "look". And most importantly, they can deliver when it matters most. While it's hard to find fighters who fill all those requirements, a few of them come really close.
Pay a close look to these fighters as they could be headlining the biggest UFC events in a few years.
When it comes to looking for the next female UFC superstar, it's either Cris Cyborg or Paige VanZant. Cyborg is usually at odds with the UFC and has already hinted at a boxing career. VanZant is a work in progress but is already growing a fanbase.
At 23, VanZant already has six UFC fights including two main events. She was a runner-up in Dancing With the Stars and has a swimsuit model's look. Most importantly, she has the action-packed fighting style that is sure to win everyone over.
The only thing holding Nurmagomedov back is himself. The undefeated fighter was supposed to fight for the interim lightweight title back in March but pulled out due to a botched weight cut. He also lost two years due to a knee injury. Nurmagomedov could be the oil to McGregor's water.
A dominant wrestler with a penchant for trash talk, the Russian is also gifted on the mic and is one of the best on twitter. There are only a few viable opponents for McGregor from a marketing perspective and Nurmagomedov is one of them.
Explosive in so many ways, Perry is just one marquee win away from blowing up. Whether he's in the octagon or out of it, Perry will make you remember him. The welterweight is 11-1 with all 11 victories coming via T/KO. He has one-punch knockout power and comes into every fight looking for the deathblow. As far as his promotional skills, Perry has rubbed many the wrong way with his racist antics but as they say, no publicity is bad publicity. Like Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen before him, Perry is on his way to becoming the UFC's premier bad boy.
Other Potential Superstars
The UFC has a rich crop of talent waiting to blow up and narrowing down the list to just three is an injustice. Looking ahead to UFC 216, main eventers Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee will be fighting for the interim lightweight title. Whoever wins sets up a date with McGregor in a future date. While Ferguson has the exciting fighting style that will earn new fans, Lee is the entire package: looks, fighting style, and mic skills.
UFC 216 - T-Mobile Arena, Nevada, United States
Others worth noting are UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt, heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou and former Invicta champion Michelle Waterson. Garbrandt only needs to work on his promotional skills as he already has the resume and appearance of a superstar. Ngannou has the potential to be the new face of the heavyweight division. And Waterson is already a star but needs to overcome her division's top fighters to achieve superstar status.
UFC/MMA Betting Lines
UFC events happen nearly every week. Whether it's a PPV or a free TV card, online sportsbooks offer betting odds complete with generous signup bonuses up to $250 in cash value. MMA is the pinnacle of combat sports and the UFC is where the best fighters live. Catch the next UFC events and make a nice profit backing these superstars-in-the-making.
UFC 217 - Madison Square Garden, New York, USA
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