2018 was a very big year for the UFC, with new talent breaking through the rankings and new prospect fighters getting signed. Shows like Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and Looking For A Fight had a huge impact in the talent pool entering the UFC.
With all of the success last year, the announcement of the Fight Pass expansion, and the new ESPN deal in full effect, we wanted to gather a list of fighters to watch out for in 2019:
The top prospects and signings coming out of 2018
"Mini DC" is a very talented up-and-coming fighter who fights out of the legendary American Kickboxing Academy. Being a prodigy of one of the best to ever do it, Daniel Cormier, there are many eyes on Deron. He has an undefeated record of 5-0 and it goes without saying, but we are looking forward to Winn making a huge splash in the middleweight division. Keep an eye out for Winn's UFC debut.
Ladd is another woman who should be watched in 2019, coming off of a huge victory in 2018. Aspen is finally getting her crack at a top contender in former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm. Some say it’s too soon, but I expect win or lose, Aspen Ladd will put on the performance of her life. Nunes needs new contenders at bantamweight, so look no further.
Having been out since UFC 200, the former UFC heavyweight champion is finally healthy and ready to return to the Octagon. His first test will be against the hard-hitting Francis Ngannou. With his teammate and longtime friend Daniel Cormier being the heavyweight champion, and only a few fights left before he retires, Cain is expected to be the front-runner at a crack for the undisputed heavyweight title with a win at UFC Phoenix.
Son of living legend, Rickson Gracie and grandson of the icon Helio Gracie, Kron is very much a top prospect to watch in 2019. Being that his family is the reason the UFC started gaining attention, Kron is the new generation of the Gracie family and is expected to make some noise. He's a 5th-degree black belt with a great stand up game and some good wrestling. The man is going a very tough and dangerous opponent for anyone.
The NFL star and now MMA prospect, Greg hardy made waves with his incredible knockouts on Dana White's Contender Series. Hardy is expected to make a huge splash in the heavyweight division. He's still young in the game I hope the UFC won’t rush him. They need to build him up with the right fights, to allow him to get more experience in the Octagon. There's no denying he's a draw and will make the company lots of money.
The featherweight division keeps heating up and has some of the best prospects the UFC has to offer heading into 2019. Alex had a great 2018, having wins over Derren Elkins and Chad Mendes. He is now looking to fight a top-5 guy and make his way towards a title shot, recently calling out the champ Max Holloway. His style is a nightmare for anyone, having high-level wrestling. He's also able to put his combinations together going backward or forward. Alex is a well-rounded, complete fighter and it does not get any better than The Great!
Askren is considered one of the best welterweights in the world, and he finally signed his long awaited UFC contract. Ben is expected to have a huge 2019, already trolling every fighter in the UFC on Twitter. His first fight will be against the dangerous, former UFC welterweight champion, Ruthless Robbie Lawler.
This young lady is very talented and one of the biggest prospects in the UFC today. She's considered the next generation of MMA and all eyes are on Maycee Barber this year, as she has promised to become the UFC's youngest champion, breaking Jon Jones' record. Barber could potentially break into the top-5 in 2019, stirring things up in both the strawweight and flyweight divisions.
Coming of a great 2018 and a huge submission victory over Volkan Oezdemir, Smith is the top prospect in the light heavyweight division. With heavy hands and a steel chin, Anthony is improving everyday and is expected to be one of the top picks to challenge Jon Jones in 2019. The two have gone back and forth on social media as of late, sparking rumors that the fight is indeed booked.
The Last Style Bender was definitely the biggest prospect in 2018 and many MMA news sites would agree. Adesanya is making the biggest noise coming off his huge TKO win over Derek Brunson and the announcement of his next fight being against The Spider, Anderson Silva. Israel is looking to follow up that performance at UFC 234 against his idol, in hopes it puts him in line for a title shot against the winner of Robert Whittaker vs Kelvin Gastelum in the main event.