With Mayweather-McGregor, Jones-Cormier 2 and a busy July schedule preserving struggle followers captivated, it’s taken this “off” week to get right down to some enterprise in relation to celebrating the perfect of one of the best for the primary half of 2017.
However right here we’re for the unofficial half-yr awards, and whereas I cheated a bit to increase the cutoff date to UFC 213 on July eight, I don’t assume anybody will complain on the subject of the alternatives right here for the highest newcomers of the yr.
The one drawback can be arising with the highest ten in January, as this yr has been one of many UFC’s greatest when it comes to new expertise. And with fighters like Galore Bofando, Danny Henry, Junior Albini, Eryk Anders, Calvin Kattar, Joseph Morales and Humberto Bandenay all making massive debuts in July and August and the gang from Dana White’s Tuesday Night time Contender collection leaping into the combination, the longer term appears vibrant from right here.
1 – Volkan Oezdemir
The no brainer decide for prime newcomer is Switzerland’s Volkan Oezdemir. Comparatively unknown heading into 2017, Oezdemir is now the No. three-ranked mild heavyweight on the earth because of consecutive victories over Ovince Saint Preux, Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa, the latter two victories ending in a mixed 1:10. That’s a spectacular yr for anybody, not to mention a half-yr, and for “No Time” to do it in his first three UFC fights, that’s going to be a tough act for anybody to comply with.
2 – Cynthia Calvillo
In a non-Oezdemir yr, we is perhaps seeing Cynthia Calvillo on prime of this listing, and she or he nonetheless has an opportunity to surge forward within the second half, which wouldn’t be a shock provided that the strawweight standout has fought her complete six-battle professional profession within the final 12 months. That’s not a typo. Three of these fights have been within the UFC this yr, as she submitted Amanda Cooper and Pearl Gonzalez and decisioned Joanne Calderwood. That Octagon run put Calvillo within the one hundred fifteen-pound prime ten, and the sky is the restrict for her.
three – Justin Gaethje
Spoiler alert…Justin Gaethje’s first UFC battle towards Michael Johnson goes to be named the perfect struggle of the primary half of 2017 and can probably be one of the best battle of the complete yr until one thing very particular occurs between now and December 31. Gaethje can also be my cause for extending the cutoff date for this piece, simply so I might get him on the listing. That’s the type of impression he made on me and the battle world in July. Now anybody who follows the game is aware of how good he’s, however the skeptics questioned if he might ship his typical motion-packed performances within the UFC. He did, he gained, and now he’s teaching TUF towards Eddie Alvarez. Gaethje vs. Alvarez? Properly, we’d have discovered the struggle that may knock Gaethje-Johnson out of the highest spot.
four – Paulo Borrachinha
Many fighters have come into the UFC with a number of hype and shiny data, solely to get a impolite awakening as soon as the Octagon gate shuts. Brazil’s Paulo Borrachinha seemed the half earlier than his March debut towards Garreth McLellan, after which he lived as much as the hype with a seventy seven-second knockout win. In his second bout, the 185-pound prospect halted Oluwale Bamgbose in two frames, displaying off the identical energy however somewhat extra endurance. As he continues to evolve, Borrachinha will solely get scarier. Be careful middleweights.
5 (Tie) – Alexandre Pantoja
A semifinalist on TUF 24, the place he was the primary seed, Alexandre Pantoja made a seamless transition into the UFC in 2017, beating two reliable foes in Eric Shelton and Neil Seery. These victories earned him a spot within the flyweight prime 15 that’s solely going to go larger sooner or later, because the Brazilian appears like he’s the actual deal at one hundred twenty five kilos.
5 – (Tie) Drakkar Klose
A member of the revered MMA Lab group in Arizona, Drakkar Klose was dominant in his UFC debut win over Devin Powell in January. Nevertheless it was his victory over fellow light-weight prospect Marc Diakiese in July that opened the eyes of the MMA fanbase and marked the Michigan native as a fighter to observe in one of many sport’s hardest divisions.