While most eyes will be on the main and co-main event this weekend at the ridiculously stacked UFC 285, there is a lot of promising talent, especially on this card, that will soon take this sport by storm. These fighters have yet to taste defeat in their professional career and will achieve all the success that fighters like Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and Jon Jones previously reached. Today, I will discuss seven of the top undefeated prospects in the UFC.
Before I begin, I will clarify my definition of a "prospect." Every fighter on this list is below the top ten in their division. They also have had less than five fights in the UFC, so unfortunately, guys like Khamzat Chimaev and Movsar Evloev did not make the cut. So let's get into it:
Tatsuro Taira takes home the first entry on this list and leads the charge for Japanese MMA in the UFC. He wants to become the first-ever Japanese champion, and with a 13-0 record thus far and his level of talent, it wouldn't be a shock to see him do it. In addition, Taira is an excellent grappler with high-level jiu-jitsu. At just 23 years old, Taira has an extremely bright future, and with a 3-0 record in the UFC, it won't be long until we see him against a ranked opponent next.
Javid Basharat is slowly becoming a name to watch in the UFC's Bantamweight division. The Dana White's Contender Series graduate has an impressive 14-0 record, with a 3-0 record inside the UFC. There is no doubt that there are a lot of high expectations for Basharat, and he will be moving up the rankings in the next few years. While his striking techniques are flawless and technical, he can also get the job done on the ground. Javid also has a brother, Farid, who is undefeated at 9-0 and will compete this weekend at UFC 285.
Michael Morales is amongst the younger names on this list at just 23 years old, but he is as highly regarded as any other prospect we've seen. The Ecuadorian is an unbelievable striker with a high-level wrestling background, combining speed, power, technique, and finesse. Eleven of Morales' fourteen wins have come by knockout, including his knockout wins of Trevin Giles and Adam Fugitt thus far in the UFC. We may not see Morales in a higher-stakes fight for some time, as he is still incredibly young and mastering his skillset, but he is surely a name to watch as he grows older and becomes a better fighter.
Muhammad Mokaev is the next big thing at Flyweight. Many call him a future champion, and while he is younger than Michael Morales, Mokaev is ready to compete with the best the Flyweight division offers. He has dominated in his first three fights with the UFC and is currently ranked twelve in the division. Mokaev's wrestling is his bread and butter, and he is strong in the clinch with powerful takedowns. He is set to test his ranking against Jafel Fiho later this month in England.
You can argue that we have not seen a prospect with the hype that Bo Nickal has in this sport. The standout wrestler has never competed under the UFC but is making his debut on a pay-per-view main card on a Jon Jones event, and many are calling him a future champion in the Middleweight division. The credentials are endless: A three-time Division I National Champion, graduating with a 120-3 record, a three-time Big Ten Champion, a US Open National Champion, a Dan Hodge trophy winner in 2019, and more. Nickal's hype is real. He showed that on Dana White's Contender Series and will make his UFC debut this weekend against Jamie Pickett.
The cousin of UFC Hall of Famer Khabib Nurmagomedov, Umar is a good representation of his family name. It's obvious that Umar knows how to wrestle, but he can also strike. After a brutal first-round knockout against Roani Barcelos earlier this year, Nurmagomedov finds himself ranked at number eleven in a stacked Bantamweight division. Expect him to climb further up the rankings this year with an impressive 16-0 record.
Shavkat Rakhmonov, who will also compete this weekend on the UFC 285 card, is as legitimate as we've ever seen a contender in mixed martial arts. With a perfect 16-0 record and a 100% finishing rate, he has eight wins both by knockout and by submission and has never made a decision in his professional career. His fights are pure technique, domination, patient yet aggressive inside the octagon, and he looks better and better each time out. He's willing to fight anybody, but his problem is that nobody seems to want to fight him. Luckily, he does have a game opponent in Geoff Neal, and we will see how legit Shavkat is.
These listed fighters have very bright futures in this sport. Two of them, Bo Nickal and Shavkat Rakhmonov, will compete this weekend on the UFC 285 main card in Las Vegas. MMA fans will realize by watching them how talented these individuals are and by tuning in, be in for a treat.