The Most Promising MMA Fighters of 2018

Ringside 17/10/2018

It’s been called the most exciting combat sport of all time and for good reason. Mixed martial arts competitions have that unpredictable nature.

With a variety of different fighting styles and different types of attacks allowed in MMA competitions, there’s that element of mystery that keeps the viewers and competitors on their toes during every moment.

It’s not unheard of for a relatively obscure fighter to enter the cage and pull off an upset that ignites his or her career.

In combat sports, there’s always a “puncher’s chance,” and even the best fighters have a bad day. So, when you see the upsets, you have to wonder … is this guy for real?

Or is he a one-hit (pun intended) wonder? Today we are going to talk about some of the up-and-coming fighters in the mixed martial arts arena.

There are no flukes here. These are guys at the top of their game, with real talent and real potential.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

No surprise here, Khabib is most likely the first fighter who comes to mind in the conversation. His record speaks for itself. He has 26 wins under his belt, with no blemishes; he has never donned a pair of MMA gloves and lost. Within the last couple of years, his grappling has improved tremendously, and he puts it on display in the cage for all of us to see.

Khabib is a worthy striker, but it’s his ability to out-wrestle his opponents and control the pace of the fight that establishes him as one of the best in the game today. He has had his share of tough fights against the likes of Edson Barboza and Al Iaquinta, but he has dominated nearly every one of his fights. He exposes his opponents’ weaknesses with an onslaught of strikes from within a dominant position, which he gains by his superior grappling ability. Khabib is the current UFC Lightweight Champion and, at the young age of 29, he seems to have a bright career ahead of him.

Daniel Cormier

Cormier boasts an impressive combat resume, amassing 21 wins, with just 1 loss and a no contest. While his record alone is impressive, when you look at the caliber of the opponents that he has defeated, it really speaks to his abilities.

Cormier has taken out guys like Anderson Silva (who was considered untouchable for years), Dan Henderson, Frank Mir, Josh Barnett, and Anthony Johnson. He recently won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 226 with a win over Stipe Miocic, which is an even bigger feat when you consider the fact that Miocic was also the first and only fighter in UFC history to defend the Light Heavyweight Title three times in a row … talk about a stacked division!

Conor McGregor

McGregor is no stranger to drama. Sure, he’s had his run-ins with other MMA fighters and UFC officials outside of the cage, but he is no stranger to winning, either. McGregor definitely packs a wallop—make sure to wear headgear if you spar with this guy!

As a Mixed Martial Artist, he holds an impressive record of 21 and 3. Outside of the cage, he also went toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather, one of the most impressive undefeated boxers the sport has seen. Connor was stripped of the lightweight title after being arrested for his antics at UFC 223, but the president is ready to give him another shot. Win or lose, you can always expect plenty of excitement from McGregor … whether the fight was scheduled officially or impromptu.

Demetrious Johnson

With a nickname like “Mighty Mouse,” it’s easy to underestimate this guy. Sure, he might be 5-foot-3, but he packs a big punch. Johnson is the current UFC Flyweight Champion, and he is the only person in UFC history to earn 11 straight title defenses. Johnson holds one of the most impressive records today, at 27 wins, 2 losses, and 1 no contest.

Mighty Mouse has a strong wrestling pedigree and is also the only fighter in UFC history to pull off over 10 takedowns in a fight on three separate occasions. Demetrious is an incredible wrestler, but, once he takes his opponent down, he can also finish; his last win came via Armbar at UFC 216.

Max Holloway

If you’re looking for an exciting fighter who doesn’t back down, Max Holloway is it. Holloway is the current UFC Featherweight Champion, and he’s on a 12-fight win streak. When you consider the fact that 9 out of those 12 wins have come from a stoppage, you know he brings it.

Holloway has had some tough fights, too—he’s fought the likes of Anthony Pettis (whom he beat to earn the interim title), Cub Swanson, and Jeremy Stephens, and he beat Jose Aldo to unify the Flyweight title. Aldo is definitely no slouch, but Holloway came out on top.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Stipe Miocic – Though he recently lost his belt to Cormier, we have a feeling that he will be back soon. Stipe is definitely a tough contender in a highly competitive division.
  • Jon Jones – Jones is currently suspended after testing positive for performance enhancers during his fight with Cormier, but he shouldn’t be overlooked. Jones may return this year, and we expect to see him make a major impact.

  • TJ Dillashaw – Dillashaw was out for blood after losing his title to then-undefeated Cody Garbrandt. He did so in their last fight. The Dillashaw-Garbrandt saga will continue in early August when they square off at UFC 227.

If we missed your favorite fighter, rest assured that we recognize each competitor’s talent and dedication to the sport. It takes a lot of bravery to put on a pair of MMA gloves and step into the cage with another trained fighter. We hope you enjoyed our picks. Thanks for reading!

Author Bio: Albert Guardado Jr. is a retired boxer and current Product Support Supervisor for Combat Brands. He was a member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team (Atlanta, GA) and former member of USA Boxing’s Board of Directors. Albert is a three-time USA Boxing National Champion, as well as the 1992 National P.A.L. Champion. He also medaled in the 1993 World Championships, 1994 Goodwill Games and 1995 Pan-American Games. Albert continues to share his extensive boxing knowledge by coaching, blogging and assisting with tournament administration at events supported by Combat Brands and Ringside.