The UFC is always bolstering its roster with promising prospects. Sometimes, these prospects don’t amount to much. Other times, however, they transform from prospects into contenders, and in rare cases, into world champions.
At present, there are a number of rising prospects on the UFC roster who have earned the opportunity to test their mettle against the top-15 fighters in their respective divisions.
Without further ado, here are three fighters I feel have earned that chance.
Fighter: Alex Volkanovski
Record: 17-1 Overall, 4-0 UFC
Matchup Suggestions: Myles Jury, Mirsad Bektic, Doo Ho Choi
Australia’s Alex Volkanovski has been a juggernaut since joining the UFC roster in 2016, steamrolling Yusuke Kasuya, Mizuto Hirota, Shane Young, and most recently, the formerly undefeated Jeremy Kennedy. As he put it on a recent episode of BJ Penn Radio, he’s yet to lose a round in the Octagon.
“I haven’t lost a round in the UFC,” he said. “I literally have not lost a round. A lot of the rounds that I won you could say have been the 10-8 rounds as well. 50 percent of my rounds are 10-8 rounds so, [I’m] completely dominating. I’m barely copping any damage in any of my fights. I’m handing out some pretty good beatings, you know what I mean? So they need to give me some ranked opponent.”
The time has come for Alex Volkanovski to be rewarded with a top-15 opponent, and I think Jury, Bektic and Choi would make great measuring sticks for him.
Fighter: Dominick Reyes
Division: Light Heavyweight
Record: 8-0 Overall, 2-0 UFC
Matchup Suggestions: Gian Villante, Gadzhimurad Antigulov, Corey Anderson
Dominick Reyes’s nickname is “The Devastator,” and he’s fought accordingly from the moment his career began, finishing all but one of his eight victims. His two most recent finishes have occurred in the UFC’s Octagon, where he debuted with a first-round drubbing of Joachim Christensen, and followed up with a submission defeat of Jeremy Kimball.
Given that the light heavyweight division is perpetually starving for talent, prospects like Reyes are incredibly valuable to the promotion, and now, it’s time to give him a shot inside the divisional top-15. Let him prove his skill against the gritty Villante, fellow prospect Antigulov, or for the toughest test of the bunch, struggling top-10 fighter Corey Anderson.
Fighter: David Teymur
Record: 7-1 Overall, 4-0 UFC
Matchup Suggestions: Francisco Trinaldo, Anthony Pettis vs. Michael Chiesa loser
David Teymur is off to an incredible start in the perilous UFC lightweight division, having already defeated Martin Svensson, Jason Novelli, Lando Vannata, and most recently, Drakkar Klose. While there is certainly no shortage of rising talent in the lightweight division, the Swedish fighter has set himself apart from the crowd, and is well-deserving of a fight inside the top-15.
It certainly is a matter of time, and I think that time is now. Teymur has earned the chance to show what he’s truly capable of, and a fight with Trinaldo or the loser of Pettis and Chiesa’s UFC 223 fight would allow him to do so.
Do you think Alex Volkanovski, Dominick Reyes and David Teymur are ready for top-15 opponents in their respective divisions?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/1/2018.