The UFC has one of the best talent pools to nurture young mixed martial artists and UFC prospects are some of the most exciting fighters in the sport. 2021 brings with it new challenges and it is certainly a time for UFC prospects to grasp any opportunities with both hands. We look at five UFC prospects to watch in 2021 who could really make waves in their divisions.
UFC Prospects to Watch in 2021
1 – Tom Aspinall
At 2-0 in the UFC so far, Tom Aspinall has certainly impressed. Having knocked out both of his opponents in the first round, Aspinall has spent a little over two minutes in the octagon thus far.
A BJJ blackbelt, Aspinall has legitimate ground skills, of which we haven’t seen in the UFC so far. His heavy hands, slick striking and quick movement is what makes him stand out in the heavyweight division. In what is a shallow heavyweight division, it’ll only take a few more wins to get Aspinall in the top 15 of the division.
Big test for @AspinallBJJ 🇬🇧
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) January 5, 2021
Who’s next? We’ll see Tom Aspinall back in action in February against former champion, Andrei Arlovski in what will be ‘The Pitbull’s 50th professional fight. It is certainly a step up in competition for Aspinall, but it is the name he needs on his resume.
2 – Casey O’Neill
Although Casey O’Neill hasn’t made her UFC debut yet, she has a lot of hype around her already. At just 23 years old, she’d already progressed to 5-0 in her professional career. ‘King’ has fought down at strawweight but will be debuting at flyweight in the UFC. A product of Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand she is a training partner of Loma Lookboonmee and clearly O’Neill certainly has the team behind her to make waves.
— Women's MMA Rankings (@WMMARankings) December 7, 2020
She will be one of the latest UFC prospects to make her debut in early 2021. Set to feature on the UFC’s February 20th card. Across the octagon for O’Neill will be Shana Dobson, who is coming off the biggest win of her career. Dobson will provide a good test for O’Neill, although form would suggest the Scottish native will get the W.
3 – Movsar Evloev
The 13-0 prospect, Russian Movsar Evloev has a very bright future ahead of him. 3-0 in the UFC already at just 26 years old, Evloev is a problem at 145lbs. With solid wrestling, which we saw in his last outing against Mike Grundy, as well as impressive striking, Evloev is evolving into a world-class mixed martial artist. A positive COVID-19 test forced him out of his scheduled bout at UFC Vegas 16 and it’s likely that this one will be rescheduled in early 2021.
If not, we could see him against fellow UFC prospects Andre Fili or Grant Dawson. Both of these men have experience and would provide a good, named win on the record of Evloev.
4 – Mason Jones
Arguably the biggest prospect outside of the UFC at the moment (although he is scheduled to debut this month), Mason Jones brings with him a lot of hype. 10-0 as it stands and a double champion for CageWarriors, Jones is legitimate. A certain Irishman was also a double CageWarriors champion if you remember… Jones will make his debut at 155lbs but has also fought most recently at 170lbs, highlighting what an exciting career he could well have in the UFC.
Lightweight title ✅
Welterweight title ✅
🏴 Mason 'The (Double) Dragon' Jones 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/tNYyTK4Mzh
— Cage Warriors (@CageWarriors) September 26, 2020
With seven finishes in 10 wins, Jones is all action. The 25-year-old provides a walk forward, well rounded, exciting style and will likely be a fan favourite as soon as he’s debuted. Mike Davis is the man across from Jones. Davis is 8-2, coming off a knockout win in his most recent bout.
5 – Umar Nurmagomedov
Does anyone recognise that name? You may have heard it somewhere. Umar Nurmagomedov is the younger cousin of the 155lbs kingpin, Khabib Nurmagomedov. This means you can expect one thing from Nurmagomedov… wrestling. With a 12-0 record, including six finishes, Nurmagomedov, like his cousin is yet to taste defeat. Most recently, Nuramgomedov captured the Gorilla Fighting Championship 135lbs title in November of 2019.
Making his debut at UFC 257, Nurmagomedov has had his UFC debut cancelled three times previously. His opponent will be fellow debutant, Sergey Morozov. Morozov is 16-3 and hasn’t tasted defeat since early 2018. He also held the M1-Challenge bantamweight title prior to signing for the UFC. Expect fireworks from this one as two men look to make a run in the UFC.
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