It’s no secret that the UFC has had a lackluster 2017 thus far.
The promotion is set to end the year off strong, but the writing is on the wall that as a whole, 2017 will not even come close to living up to the UFC’s banner year that was 2016.
The subpar numbers can be attributed to many reasons, but a lack of bankable pay-per-view (PPV) stars is certainly a big one of them.
After suffering back-to-back losses, it’s unlikely that former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey ever fights again. Conor McGregor has assured fans that he’ll be returning to MMA after losing to Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match this past August, but it’s unclear when exactly he’ll return, and how much longer he’ll stick around MMA after he does.
Former PPV star Georges St-Pierre is scheduled to make his return in just a few weeks after a four-year hiatus, but it remains to be seen if GSP can resonate with the PPV audiences of today, and even after his return, his future is unclear as well as he’s said he would retire for good with a loss.
Clearly, the UFC is in need of more big names and more attractions. Let’s take a look at five fighters the promotion should be grooming as their next big star:
Recently speaking on this exact topic of discussion, Dana White had the following to say:
“Our most bankable (future) star?” White said on an episode of the Dan Le Batard Show on ESPN. “November 4 at Madison Square Garden, this kid who’s the world champion, he’s gonna fight. His name is Cody No Love. Very marketable guy. I think Cody No Love could be the next big star.”
The UFC boss could certainly be on to something here.
Garbrandt, a staple of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male, is one of the most exciting young fighters in the sport. At just 26 years of age, “No Love” has amassed a perfect 11-0 record. He most recently scored a career-defining victory at last December’s UFC 207, dominating the legendary Dominick Cruz to become the undisputed bantamweight champion.
Garbrandt’s power is unparalleled at 135 pounds, as nine of his 11 career victories have come by way of knockout. His fighting style is entertaining, and he speaks well when given a microphone.
If he can get by bitter rival TJ Dillashaw at UFC 217 and keep racking up victories, the UFC could have a star on its hands. It’ll be up to the promotion to promote him correctly, something they’ve been accused of not being able to do as they’ve focused mainly on McGregor as of late.