Each division in the UFC is currently blessed with at least one exciting prospect. These prospects, all with one or fewer fights in the promotion, have the potential to hone their skill sets, enlarge their followings, and climb the rankings.
When handling a prospect, the UFC is often torn between not pushing them too fast yet making the most of their potential and time. Below is a bright prospect from each division and a quality next opponent for them.
strawweight – weili zhang
At UFC 227, strawweight Weili Zhang made it clear as to why she is the one to watch at 115-pounds. Although short of her usual utter dominance (a previous 16 fight win streak with a 93% finishing rate), she clearly prevailed in all aspects of her debut fight against the always tough Danielle Taylor. A victory over Randa Markos would help propel her into the UFC’s top 15. Markos, who has alternated wins and losses since her promotional debut, would get the opportunity to get back on track against one of the most highly touted prospects in her division. Given that Zhang fought seven times in 2017, sooner would probably be much more appealing to her (and us) than later. Participating in the UFC’s upcoming November event in China is a great marketing move for the UFC to push China’s own Weili Zhang.
flyweight – Antonina Shevchenko
Although flyweight Antonina Shevchenko has yet to officially debut in the UFC, she recently displayed total dominance in her victory over Jaimelene Nievera on Season 2 of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. With only six pro-MMA fights, fight fans are clamoring to see just how good the older sister of Valentina really is. While a fight against either a returning Paige VanZant or fellow newcomer Andrea Lee would probably have the most box office appeal, facing the veteran Barb Honchack would probably do the most in advancing her ranking and placing her closer to a title contention. Though the former Invicta champion has gone 0-2 in the Octagon since debuting, she is still widely regarded as one of the division’s top.
bantamweight – aspen Ladd
With the UFC bantamweight division so depleted these days, despite having only fought once in the UFC, it’s still rather surprising that the undefeated Aspen Ladd is only ranked number seven A fight with Lucie Pudilova may not necessarily have a huge implication on the rankings but would definitely be a fun fight the fans can get behind.
Though Pudilova and Ladd have exchanged jabs on social media, Ladd will be shifting her focus to Tonya Evinger as she has accepted a fight with her at UFC 229, replacing an injured Ketlen Vieira.
featherweight – Felicia Spencer
If the UFC is serious about their Featherweight Division, and it doesn’t appear they are, perhaps they could bring over Invicta’s undefeated Felicia Spencer to take on relative newcomer Megan Anderson. It seems like Megan has been with the UFC forever, but to date has had only one fight there.
After her last victory at Invicta FC 30 in July against Helena Kolesnyk, the “Feenom” extended her unbeaten streak to five and called out Australia’s Anderson.
If it does not work out with Anderson, Sarah Kaufman is yearning for a fight and has even called out Cris Cyborg. Perhaps a veteran versus prospect crossroads bout can take place between the two.
This article was contributed to WMMA Rankings by JR Yuen.