The UFC has always been a proving ground for young talent. They have fostered the growth of many fighters through their Ultimate Fighter show that has led to the development of many champions. Here are the top 5 up and comers of the UFC today.
#5 Paulo Thiago
Paulo made his UFC debut fighting Josh Koscheck at UFC 95. Coming in as a huge underdog, Thiago shocked the world with his first round TKO of Koscheck, winning Knockout of the Night. Making the win more impressive is the fact that Thiago is primarily a ground fighter with 7 of his 11 wins coming by submission. With a perfect 11-0 record and a win against top competitor Josh Koscheck, Thiago has solidified himself as a top young fighter in the UFC. look for him to improve his record as he takes on incredibly tough and experienced Jon Fitch next at UFC 100.
#4 Alex Gustafsson
Alex "The Mauler" Gustafsson is a 24 year old swedish fighter fresh off his first round knockout of american Jared Hamman. With a perfect 9-0 record, Alex has showcased exceptional striking abilities, finishing 7 of his nine opponents via TKO or KO. Look for Alex to certify himself as a legitimate contender in his next fight against a fellow up and comer Phil Davis.
#3 Carlos Condit
At only 25, Carlos has amased a record of 23 wins with only 5 loses. He was the WEC Welterweight Champion, defending his belt three times. He lost his first fight in the UFC by split decision to the very tough Martin Kampmann. In the fight he showcased both very strong striking skills as well as his deadly ground game. Given a few years he will be another very competitive belt contender.
#2 Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez has been a monster in the UFC HW division since his two minute knockout of Brad Morris at UFC 83. Now with a perfect record of 5-0, all coming by knockout, with four of those in the first round, Cain has showed that he is here to take the belt. As of yet, no one has even theatened the hardhitting wrestler. His next fight against Cheick Kongo will show if he truly has the tools to hang with the best of the HW division
#1 Jon "Bones" Jones
Jon Jones is one of the most unorthodox and exciting fighters in the UFC Light Heavyweight division. With a perfect record of 8-0, with two of those wins in the UFC, Jones has been moving up the ladder of the LHW division with exciting fights against top opponents. After dispactching 5-2 IFL veteran Andre Gusmao, Jones ran over the very tough and very experienced Stephan Bonnar in a lopsided beatdown that had Jones showcase some beautiful suplexs and even a spinning back elbow that knocked Bonnar to the ground. His next fight is going to be on the stacked UFC 100 card where he will look to finish off Jake O'Brien in the same convincing matter as his last eight opponents.
Honorable mentions : Damien Maia ( not neccesarily an "up and comer" as he is already in the running for the belt and has fought 5 times in the UFC ), and Shane Carwin ( same as Maia)