Each year, a new class of prospects catch the attention of fight fans.
With Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey, the biggest stars of the past few years – and perhaps ever – now gone from the sport for the time being, the UFC is in a transitionary period as Endeavor attempts to build new dependable pay-per-view draws.
Fighters like Sage Northcutt and Paige VanZant initially made a big impact and the expectations were high, but not all prospects pan out in the cage. Those once-hyped prospects are still around, but they’ve given way to a new crop of potential future stars who are performing in the cage in addition to having their own highly marketable qualities.
So the UFC has potential stars in their midst, but with PPV sales slumping as the promotion seems to be waiting around for McGregor to return, the time is now for them to build for the future as they cannot afford more down years by failing to promote their best chances at box office success.
With the majority of a new year of MMA ahead of us, let’s take a look at six future stars the UFC simply can’t afford to miss promoting throughout this year.
6. Sean O’Malley
O’Malley captured UFC president Dana White’s attention and the exec quickly signed him.
‘Sugar’ certainly has delivered thus far, winning both of his UFC fights with stylish striking and adept grappling.
He even won his last fight after severely damaging his leg in the third round. With his charisma and fighting style, it’s no wonder the company wants to push this kid into star territory.
As O’Malley works his way up the bantamweight division, he’s certainly a fighter to watch out for. At just 23 years old, the Montana native could be a star in a post-McGregor world.
But let’s see him against a step up in competition before the hype train really starts to start. A fight against Rob Font or Thomas Almeida is a perfect test to really see where O’Malley is at, and if he wins that, the UFC should seriously consider pushing his promotion into high gear.