By Alex Metalis | 10.20.16
Now that Anderson Silva is beyond his prime and Georges St.-Pierre’s status with the UFC is in flux, the promotion lacks the deep wealth of star power it once had. Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey have been invaluable golden geese for the company, but who will emerge as the next big pay-per-view draw?
Thankfully, the UFC has numerous potential cash cows in the making. There’s Sage Northcutt; with his angelic purity and boyish vigor. There’s also Ms. America Paige VanZant, who couldn’t be any more marketable. But Super Sage and PVZ don’t have the skills yet to propel themselves to the top or even headline a PPV event.
Herein is a short list of young fighters who will emerge in the coming years as must-see attractions. Not only are their personalities marketable, but they each have the skill and mettle to match their charisma. Expect to see these fighters displayed prominently under the UFC’s prevailing spotlight in the near future:
He’s brash. He’s polarizing. Frankly, he seems like kind of a prick. But Mike Perry is an inevitability.
The 25-year-old Floridian has become popular among MMA message boarders lately due to his brawling style and raucous sound bites. “Platinum” talks smack to his foes, face-to-face and through social media, before laying the physical smack on them — Perry backs up his talk. He packs a wallop and he’s not gunshy; furthermore he can take a helluva punch. Perry is 2-0 in the UFC with two knockouts.
Get a load of this dude’s Twitter if you need an introduction to Mr. Perry. Like him or not, he definitely stirs the pot:
Despite losing his promotional debut on short notice against Tony Ferguson, UFC fans should be very excited about Lando Vannata.
The Jackson-Wink MMA product showed snazzy, brilliant striking against the heavily-favored Ferguson when the two fought in July. The 24-year-old waded through Ferguson’s attacks, used deft movement, and landed heavy leather; edging the first round against the highly-ranked Ferguson. Lando looked like a total badass while doing it too:
Vannata’s teammates and coaches have been touting his talent for years, and he was able to display it against Ferguson despite getting submitted in the second round. “Groovy” is slated to lock horns with John Makdessi at UFC 206 in December. It will be one to watch.
Doo Ho Choi
At a glance, you might think Doo Ho Choi would be atop the ranks of Starcraft or the lead singer of a K-pop band. Then you watch him fight:
In defiance of our expectations and despite his wiry frame, “The Korean Superboy” is a hellacious puncher. He’s 3-0 in the UFC with three first-round knockouts. DHC’s precision and accuracy allow him to send his bigger, tougher-looking opponents crashing to the canvas.
While his lack of English might be prohibitive, Choi’s fists do plenty of talking. Plus, it’s captivating to see a polite, boyish fighter capable of savagery. If he continues to ascend the featherweight ranks, it would be a boon for the UFC — Choi could be a key to unlocking the South Korean MMA market.
Choi will get his first taste of PPV action against wily veteran Cub Swanson at UFC 206. It will be surefire entertainment given the slugging proclivities of both fighters.