In the UFC’s short 28 years, we’ve seen the competition get better… and younger.
Fight fans have recently seen the rise of mixed martial artists who have been training since they could walk. Second-generation talent are also starting to make their way through the regional scene now more than ever. Though Dana White tends too shy away from younger talent, we’ve seen an influx of signings thanks to the Contender Series and platforms like UFC Fight Pass.
If you’ve been wondering about the youngest fighters in the UFC, look no further. Read about the current 10 youngest fighters currently signed to the biggest promotion in the world…
10. Brady Hiestand (23, 5-2)
Spokane’s Brady Hiestand impressed on The Ultimate Fighter 29, having some of the most memorable fights of the season. “Bam Bam” was the youngest on the show, taking out a close friend and highly touted veteran to reach the finale. Unfortunately he fell short to Ricky Turcios in the end… But many could argue the judges got it wrong that night. Regardless, it was one hell of a fight that still got him a UFC contract.
Hiestand has yet to make his official UFC debut, but once he’s fully healed, expect to see some fun fights in the bantamweight division. At just 23 years old, Brady has shown much promise. He’s been in some fun, scrappy wars and has some impressive finishes on his record. Training under Rick Little with TUF champions Julianna Pena and Michael Chiesa, it’s obvious he the right backing to have a successful career.
9. Erin Blanchfield (23, 9-1)
With one of the best nicknames in the game, “Cold Blooded” has made quite the impression in her three UFC fights. She dominated Sarah Alpar in her debut, then took out a promising prospect in Miranda Maverick. Most recently, she submitted JJ Aldrich to extend her current win streak to six-straight.
Ever since Erin Blanchfield made her MMA debut at the age of 18, she was destined for big things. Her only loss on the regional scene is to UFC flyweight Tracy Cortez. Ironically today, they are the #13 & #14 fighters in the division. But Blanchfield has her eyes set on being the one to defeat Valentina Shevchenko… Crazy enough, she’s not far away. Make sure to keep an eye on Erin, she’s about to do everything she said she would do en route to greatness.
8. Cory McKenna (23, 7-2)
Fresh off a win over the returning Miranda Granger, Cory McKenna is right where she needs to be at this point in her career. The Cage Warriors veteran is 2-1 in the UFC and trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento. The suffocating wrestling was on display against Granger, where she tapped her opponent with a Von Flue choke in round two. The first Von Flue finish in the UFC by a woman, in case you were wondering…
In addition to Granger, she has also taken out tough veterans Vanessa Demopoulos and Kay Hansen. She’s the lone Welsh woman to fight in the octagon, getting her opportunity via the Contender Series. Though she has a small frame for strawweight, she has all the time to build her MMA game around quick takedowns and articulate grappling.
7. Michael Morales (23, 14-0)
The pride of Ecuador earned his UFC contract on Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series. He then made his highly anticipated debut at UFC 270, finishing Trevin Giles in the first round. Most recently, Michael Morales defeated Adam Fugitt at UFC 277 and it was an absolute war. 14 fights deep and only 23 years old, the sky is truly the limit for Morales.
After his two showings in the UFC, it’s clear Dana White has a real prospect on his hands with massive star potential. If Chito Vera doesn’t capture the bantamweight championship before Morales gets a title shot, he could become the first Ecuadorian UFC champion. Only time will tell how Michael fares in the top-15 of the welterweight division, but one thing is for sure… He deserves all your attention.
6. Daniel Zellhuber (23, 12-0)
Despite his youth, Daniel Zellhuber had impressed Mexican fight fans for a long time in the LUX and Combate promotions. Yet to debut in the UFC, “Golden Boy” fought into the promotion last year on the Contender Series with a decision win over Lucas Almeida. Zellhuber broke his leg in that fight, and has been slowly returning to one hundred percent…
The wait to see the talented finisher is nearing a close, as he’s booked to fight Kansas City’s Trey Ogden at UFC Fight Night on September 17th. He’s been working at Tiger Muay Thai in Thailand recently, and will probably have plenty of new sides to show when he meets Ogden in a month’s time.
5. Chase Hopper (22, 11-2-1)
It’s crazy to think that Chase Hooper has been signed to the UFC for 3 years now… He has been fighting grown men since he made his MMA debut in 2017 at 17 years old. Five fights into his pro career, he appeared on Season 2 of Contender Series and impressed Dana White after a comeback win against Canaan Kawaihae. Since Chase was only 18 years old at the time, Dana awarded him the first-ever Developmental Contract. It allowed him to focus on training while competing on the regional scene.
After three wins in various promotions, the UFC officially signed him to the roster at 19. He later made his debut shortly after his 20th birthday, celebrating with a first-round finish at UFC 245. Now five UFC fights under his belt, he’s been able to build momentum and gain the interest of fight fans around the world. Needless to say, Hooper is destined to have a very long fight career. All eyes have been on him since 2018, and they’ll continue to be as he grows up in the world’s best promotion.
4. Maheshate (22, 9-1)
Maheshate was featured on last year’s Contender Series, taking out the undefeated Achilles Estremadura to earn a UFC contract. Most recently, he made his UFC debut against Steve Garcia who he finished in the first round. Now 9-1 in the most stacked UFC weight class, it’s evident China has a real prospect on their hands in the young 22-year-old.
If you watch him fight, you’ll see he’s dangerous where ever the fight goes, and has real power at 155-pounds. Five of Maheshate’s 10 pro fights have come via finishes, the rest were by way of decision. So you know he has no problem going the distance if needed… And he’ll do it dominantly. Only time will tell how Maheshate’s career will unfold, but know he’s a prospect to keep a close eye on in the lightweight division.
3. Tatsuro Taira (22, 11-0)
The UFC has been woefully lean on their Japanese roster for far too long… But young flyweight Tatsuro Taira gives some hope. Residing in Okinawa, Taira fought almost exclusively for Shooto in his home country. He accumulated a perfect 11-0 record with eight finishes in Japan, leading to his signing earlier this year.
Taira faced Carlos Candelario in his debut at a UFC Fight Night last May. He was able to handle the Contender Series alum to a decision, threatening with numerous submission attempts. He’ll fight another DWCS graduate on October 15th when he meets CJ Vergara. Make sure you keep an eye on the 22 year old. He’s a solid prospect signing, and still has a long career ahead of him.
2. Muhammad Mokaev (22, 7-0)
You could argue that after amounting a 24-0 amateur record, Muhammad Mokaev was ready for the UFC the moment he turned pro. He has been calling for a shot in the UFC for a while now, and they finally decided to give him the opportunity last year, signing him straight to the promotion. In his UFC debut, he took out Cody Durden in 58-seconds of the first round. Most recently, he manhandled the LFA bantamweight champion, Charles Johnson, to a unanimous decision victory.
If there’s one thing about the 22-year-old, is there is no lack of confidence whatsoever. He’s probably the youngest fighter who is truly ready for the top flyweights in the world. Mokaev has proven that he’ll fight whoever the UFC puts in front of him. With 31 wins on his record, you should believe him when he says he’s a future world champion. We may see that vision come to fruition sooner than we think too…
1. Iasmin Lucindo (20, 13-4)
The youngest fighter to fight for MMA’s number one promotion is Brazilian Iasmin Lucindo, who was born in January of 2002. She’s fought 17 times already since going pro at the ripe age of 15. Most of her competition within Brazil hasn’t been stellar, but she’s had a few decent wins recently over Contender Series alums Sarah Frota and Lucrezia Ria.
Time will tell soon if she’s ready for the level of competition of the UFC- she fights this weekend at UFC San Diego against a tough Yazmin Jauregui. Even if she isn’t, she’s already far ahead of most of her peers and has nothing but time on her hands to level up…
Which young fighter do you have the highest hopes for? Let us know in the comments below.