In MMA we all love a good prospect. We like to know of those who will have a future in the sport for years to come. As we know, Jon Jones won the title at just 21 years of age and last week, we saw 17-year-old Raul Rosas Jr get a contract on the contender series.
We take a brief look at 25 MMA stars under 25 in no particular order.
25 Under 25
1 – Muhammad Mokaev – Mokaev stormed onto the UFC scene with a first-round submission over Cody Durden in London in March. He then dominated Charles Johnson in July across three rounds. He’s scheduled to compete again at UFC 280 against the experienced Malcolm Gordon. With an extensive amateur background and well-rounded skills, Mokaev is a dangerous prospect at flyweight and bantamweight.
2 – Dakota Ditcheva – The PFL’s latest breakout star, Dakota Ditcheva has a huge future ahead of her. Sitting at 6-0 with five finishes, Ditcheva doesn’t hang around. As the first female to win a fight at flyweight for the PFL, she’s clearly being backed by the promotion that tells you everything you need to know about her potential.
3 – Maycee Barber – It feels as though we’ve been talking about Barber being a young prospect for years now, however, at just 24, she’s still a long way away from her peak. She holds a UFC record of 6-2 and certainly has a future in the upcoming years, as well as having a lot of time to improve.
4 – Edmen Shahbazyan – Say what you will about Edmen Shahbazyan but he still has a huge future ahead of him. Starting his UFC career 3-0, he’s on a three-fight skid. At just 24, however, he still has a huge career ahead of him. With names including Brad Tavares and Darren Stewart already on his record, he’s clearly talented.
5 – Song Yadong – Although Yadong is coming off a loss to Cory Sandhagen recently, he’s still only 24 and is extremely talented. With 11 UFC bouts already to his name, don’t be surprised to see him in the title picture in the coming years.
6 – Christian Lee – It’s crazy to think that Lee is still under 25, however, at 24 years of age, he’s already had 20 professional fights and held the ONE Championship lightweight title twice and competed for the featherweight championship at just 20. There’s no doubt that Lee could go down as a legend if he continues on his current rise.
7 – Casey O’Neill – Storming onto the UFC scene with four straight wins including three finishes, O’Neill is a prospect to keep an eye on. A torn ACL kept her out of a fight with Jessica Eye, however, she’s on the road to recovery and certainly has a future at both 125lbs and 135lbs.
8 – Ian Garry – The undefeated Garry is certainly talented. At 8-0, he’s openly admitted that he wants to be the next Conor McGregor but as of yet, hasn’t fully shown all the skills he has. After finishing his first UFC fight, he’s gone 15 minutes in his last two. He’s talented, entertaining and has a lot of potential for sure.
9 – Simeon Powell – PFL’s Simeon Powell may not be on everyone’s radar, however, be sure to get on the hype train early. The 23-year-old is 7-0 with six finishes and most recently made his second PFL appearance, ending things via low kicks in the second round. 6’5, 205lbs, Powell is going to be a problem for opponents in the future.
10 – Khasan Magomedsharipov – Recognise the name? The brother of Zabit Magomedsharipov, Khasan is 7-0 and just 21 years old. He’s notched five finishes in his seven fights, including two under the Bellator banner in recent times. With his age comes opportunities to not only dominate at 145lbs but also move up to 155lbs and put in work at lightweight too.
12 – Cory McKenna
– One of the women to beat Hansen was Cory McKenna. The 23-year-old Welsh star bounced back from her second professional loss to secure a von flue choke over Miranda Granger
last time out. Working at Team Alpha Male, we can be assured that she’s going to be improving fight on fight.
13 – Victoria Lee – ‘The Prodigy’ is certainly a fitting name for Lee. The younger sister of Angela Lee and Christain Lee, Victoria is 3-0 and still only 18 years old. Not only is she 3-0, but all three have come via finish with two submissions and a TKO. It would be less shocking if Lee didn’t win a major championship belt before she was 25 than if she did.
14 – Erin Blanchfield – It’s crazy to think that Blanchfield is just 23 years of age and already 3-0 in the UFC against legitimate opposition. With wins over JJ Aldrich and Miranda Maverick under her belt, she’s set to face Molly McCann at UFC 281. Already ranked #12 in the flyweight division, there’s little doubting that Blanchfield will make the top five soon.
15 – Chase Hooper – Chase Hooper knows exactly what he is. He’s a phenomenal grappler and centres his game around that. At 23 years old, he’s gone 3-2 in the UFC, however, we’ve seen improvements throughout his career thus far. Making his debut at just 20 years of age, Hooper has grown up in the UFC and it’ll be exciting to continue to watch his journey.
16 – Lone’er Kavanagh – The little-known Kavanagh will certainly be someone to keep an eye on. At 4-0, he’s an exciting prospect. He’s 2-0 in CageWarriors and trains out of Great Britain Top team, however, hasn’t had any real tests just yet. Hopefully, during his next fight, we’ll see what Kavanagh is all about.
17 – Tereza Bleda – At 6-0 and just 20 years old, Bleda will be signed to a big promotion in the coming years. She got her chance on the Contender Series and despite winning and overcoming an undefeated prospect, she wasn’t awarded a contract. The dominance that she showed should have arguably earned her a contract, however, expect to see her in the UFC, Bellator or even on the PFL Europe series next year.
18 – Luke Riley
– Similar to Kavanagh, Riley is a little-known prospect at just 4-0. However, having made his professional debut just a year ago, he’s already recorded four finishes, all under the CageWarriors banner. Training out of Next Generation MMA gym in Liverpool alongside the likes of Molly McCann
and Paddy Pimblett
19 – Seika Izawa – RIZIN’s Izawa is an impressive 8-0. She holds the RIZIN super atomweight championship and is widely regarded as the best atomweight in the world. She holds wins over the legendary Ayaka Hamasaki and picked up another win this past weekend in the semi-finals of the Rizin super atomweight grand prix.
20 – Michael Morales – At 14-0 and just 23 years old, more people should be talking about Michael Morales. The Ecuadorian welterweight has notched 11 finishes, including wins over respected names in Trevin Giles and Adam Fugitt. There’s a good chance that if the UFC ever go to Ecuador, you’ll see Morales high on the card.
21 – Maheshate – Born in 1999, China’s Maheshate is one of the best prospects the UFC have had in years. Holding a record of 9-1, he hasn’t lost since 2019 when he fought in M1-Challenge. He finished his opponent in a little over a minute in his UFC debut and training alongside fellow young prospect, Rong Zhu at Enbo Fight Club will certainly improve his game.
22 – Yazmin Jauregui – Another 23-year-old prospect, Yazmin Jauregui knocked off fellow prospect, Iasmin Lucindo in her UFC debut. She sits at 9-0 with six finishes, the majority of which came in Combate Global. Dana White is clearly high on her as she debuted (against a fellow debutant) on the main card of a UFC fight night last month.
23 – Tatsuro Taira – One of the youngest members of the UFC roster, Taira has an impressive professional and amateur record. The 22-year-old is undefeated at 11-0 in his professional career, dating back to 2018 when he was just 19 years of age. The Japanese native is also 9-0 as an amateur and has a tough test ahead of him next month in CJ Vergara.
24 – Diana Avsaragova – The undefeated Bellator flyweight, Diana Avsaragova has made quite the start to her life in MMA. She’s currently 5-0 and still just 24 years old. At 3-0 in Bellator and ranked #10 in the division, Avsaragova has a big future ahead of her.
25 – Usman Nurmagomedov – Finishing off our 25 under 25 MMA stars to watch is arguably the most skilled, most dangerous and person with the highest ceiling on the entire list. Usman Nurmagomedov is still just 24 and is already lined up for a title shot later this year. The cousin of UFC hall of famer, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Usman has three straight finishes in four Bellator fights. He’s well-rounded and a dangerous prospect in the sport.