Search icon


01st Jan 2018

The promising prospect to watch in every UFC division in 2018

Is the next superstar among this bunch?

Ben Kiely

Best UFC prospects 2018

Where are the next UFC champions, contenders and stars coming from?

The UFC matchmakers used to have this saying, ‘We’re not in the business of making champions, we’re in the business of making contenders.’

That really doesn’t seem to be the case anymore considering the sheer amount of interim belts and questionable title fights being made. However, nothing gold can stay. In order for the fight business to be sustainable, you need to build up prospects.

Here are our picks for the prospect to watch in every UFC division in 2018.

Women’s Strawweight

Hard work is always appreciated. After dropping her first two UFC fights, Nina Ansaroff (8-5) has strung together two solid wins. She showed huge improvements in her latest win over former Invicta champion Angela Hill. Although Ansaroff’s a bit away from contesting from the belt, if she continues on this trajectory, she could become a legitimate contender in a relatively weak division.

Also, keep an eye on 24-year-old Alexa Grasso (10-1). The Mexican has had a bright start to her UFC career and it will be interesting to see what she looks like after returning from knee surgery. Undefeated Tatiana Suarez (5-0) is another potential star returning from a long lay-off that’s worth keeping tabs on.

best ufc prospects 2018


In a division that’s crying out for new contenders, Alexandre Pantoja (18-2) is on the cusp of emerging as a contender. He’s riding an impressive 11-fight win-streak and at 27, he is only entering his athletic prime. The Dustin Ortiz fight should be a great indicator of what level he’s at.

Women’s Flyweight

The UFC’s newest division is going to get progressively more interesting with the passing of time. Odds are, the most interesting prospect in this division either hasn’t been signed yet or has yet to make their divisional debut for the promotion. Of the fighters currently signed to the UFC, we’re most interested in seeing what Katlyn Chookagian (9-1) in her flyweight debut against Mara Romero Borella.

Chookagian is 2-1 in the UFC, is a former CFFC flyweight champ and has a victory over Sijara Eubanks who, at the time of writing, is the number one contender.

best ufc prospects 2018


There were lots of fighters to choose from in one of the most stacked divisions in the sport, but our one to watch next year is Ricardo Ramos (11-1). At 22, he’s one of the youngest fighters in the weight class and his latest win over highly-touted prospect Aiemann Zahabi showed he has legitimate knockout power.

Also keep an eye on undefeated Welshman Brett Johns (15-0) who’s been doing some great things in the big leagues.

Women’s Bantamweight

Talk about a division with a serious dearth of challengers for the champion. Undefeated Aspen Ladd (6-0) could be the most promising young star at 135 lbs. The only fear is the 22-year-old may be fast-tracked through the rankings too early because of the huge skill disparity between the business end and the trailing pack. If she’s built up properly, she could develop into a serious talent, and she’s already pretty damn good at fighting.


It may be an obvious choice, but Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1) is clearly the featherweight prospect to follow in 2018. Two stunning victories to kick off his UFC tenure put the whole division on notice. The fact that Mark Henry is learning Russian just to coach him just shows how highly he is rated.

Women’s Featherweight



Another tough call, but because he’s a little lesser known than the likes of James Vick and Mairbek Taisumov, we’re going to go with Gregor Gillespie (10-0). Hes undefeated and is somewhat flying under the radar. His lack of  exposure wasn’t helped by his fight of the night against Jason Gonzalez clashing with the huge Canelo Alvarez vs Genaddy Golovkin boxing PPV.


It’s a bit of a cop out, but we feel like enough people aren’t talking about Kamaru Usman (11-1). The Darren Tills and the Colby Covingtons are gathering up all the hype, but ‘the Nigerian Nightmare’ may be one of the toughest match-ups out there for Tyron Woodley. We’ll see how he fares against Emil Meek, but he could well be the one to usurp ‘the Chosen One’s throne.


Watch out for the Brazilians at 185 lb. With four-straight wins under his belt, Antonio Carlos Junior (9-2-1NC) is maybe a fight away from cracking the top 15. However, Paulo Costa (11-0) is the most exciting middleweight prospect for our money.

He has a 100% finish rate, a very marketable look, time on his side and is making all the right moves to connect with an English-speaking audience. It’s just a shame that his old moniker, ‘Borrachinha,’ is way more fun to say than ‘the Eraser’.

Light Heavyweight

205 lbs is so shallow that the man fighting for the title next was pretty much a complete unknown in February. Although he lost his last outing, Australia’s Tyson Pedro (7-1) could be the new blood the division needs. It remains to be seen how he handles defeat, but at 26, he has plenty of room for improvement with an already well-rounded skillset.

best ufc prospects 2018


Prospects don’t really thrive in the unforgiving heavyweight division, but so far, Justin Ledet (9-1NC) has done a great job. At 29, he’s one of the younger guys in the weight class and his boxing skills, in particular, really make him stand out from the crowd. He’s not coming off his best performance against Zu Anyanwu, but he still managed to grind out a win against an opponent who stepped in on six days notice.