Mixed martial arts is filled with talented and popular athletes, with one of its biggest stars competing in the next UFC pay-per-view. At UFC 194 Conor McGregor will look to take out Jose Aldo for the undisputed featherweight title. You see, if you want to reach that atmosphere of popularity such the likes of McGregor and Ronda Rousey  it’s hard, almost impossible to reach there based just only on your MMA arsenal.

What it often, if not always need is a indescribable recipe that goes far beyond your Octagon skills. It’s a personality trait that few possess.

With all that being said, let’s have a look at some of the up-and-coming potential stars we have in the sport of MMA that if you haven’t already, should take extra notice to in this week of ‘The List’.

 

Michael ‘Venom’ Page (9-0) – Bellator – Welterweight

With a highlight-reel that is comparable with some of the most impressive out there in MMA, 28-year-old Michael Page is starting to make waves with his flashy, hands down, stand up striking that he himself has mentioned when interviewed back in February with Skysports.com.

“ in this to be known as a revolutionary for stand-up fighting, I don’t throw the same punches or kicks that you always see”,

We haven’t seen what the ‘Venom’ is bringing to MMA when it comes to striking from many other up-and-coming fighters out there.

Since he entered Bellator MMA with a 4-0 record, Page has gone to win five straight including four stoppages and only one decision victory. Fighting out of London Shootfighter with the likes of John Hathaway and Claudio Henrique da Silva, he is well on his way to become the future face of the Bellator promotion.

There is only one knock on him at the moment, and that is he has outgrown the opposition he has faced recently. However, he has no immediate plans to change this, and has said he is young in the sport (starting out as a pro in February 2012), and says he is very happy in Bellator, but until he faced better opposition, this is a spaceship with unlimited promises that won’t leave the ground.


Yair ‘El Pantera’ Rodriguez (6-1) – UFC – Featherweight

Winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, the Mexican fighter Yair Rodriguez has made a name for himself among fans after just one year and three fights under the UFC umbrella for his flashy fighting style and heart he has displayed to the point where he threw up on himself while at the same time being announced as the winner against Charles Rosa in front of his countrymen in Mexico City, Mexico. This fight was also awarded ‘Fight of the Nights’ honors, which was perfect timing for Yair, after reports came out about him being broke, up until that fight, of course. And let’s not forget his latest showing where he fought with a broken foot and still won his fight by ‘unanimous decision’ against Daniel Hooker.

The Mexican MMA fans are starving to get behind a talented fighter that can represent their country after being hurt by Cain Velasquez’s only appearance in Mexico.

A frequent flyer at Jackson/Wink MMA with all the greats (Jon Jones, Holly Holm etc.), Joe Rogan has compared his imaginative fighting style with the likes of Anthony Pettis and Jon Jones, and Dana white has said that he is the future of MMA. Yair is on a five-fight winning streak and well on his way to charm the hearts of the Mexican people and the rest of the world.

 
‘Super’ Sage Northcutt (6-0)  – UFC – Lightweight

At only 19 years of age and just over a year as a professional MMA fighter, Northcutt has exploded to the scene after being discovered on Dana White’s reality show Looking for a Fight, that clip has since got over 800,000 views on YouTube. This young man has something beside his incomparable physique and incredible explosiveness when he fights that is hard to put your finger on. Could it be the ‘it’-factor?

After just one fight in the UFC against Francisco Trevino, where he just ran through him and finished him by technical knockout under less than a minute, Sage is shining bright in the MMA industry. ‘Super’ Sage is fantastic on social media, doing appearances on TV shows where he is known now for bending frying pans with his bare hands.

Sage has had a very successful Karate background, competing in tournaments all around the world since a very young age, and he has a ton of hardware to show for it. Up to this point, his father has been his head coach, but they are scouting for a new home, and for the looks of it, it seems Tri-Star in Montreal is in his future. He has a fight booked on Thursday, December 10, at UFC Fight Night 80 against Cody Pfister where we will see if this hype train can go even faster than it has gone so far, and if it can, the possibilities for ‘Super’ Sage Northcutt seems infinite.

 
Thomas ‘Thominhas’ Almeida (20-0) – UFC – Bantamweight

In all four Octagon appearances, Almeida has capture a performance bonus of $50,000. He is undefeated in his career, and he has not faced easy competition his whole ride since he joined the UFC. He’s now ranked as the #6 bantamweight on the UFC roster.

Almeida’s fights are extraordinary entertaining, and highly violent with him having to take shots himself sometimes just to give the ones that is going to end it all. Like UFC legend Don Frye would say, he has a kill-ratio of 95%.

This 24-year-old has shown, as he did in the Brad Pickett fight, where he got clipped more than he gave out in the beginning of the fight, that he can switch up his game and make changes on the fly to achieve the finish, as he did that time by winning by flying-knee knockout in the second round.

The only thing Almeida has against him is the same problem current featherweight champion Jose Aldo has today, and that is neither of them speak English. Aldo’s fighting style is amazing, but he has proven he needed someone like Conor McGregor to make his name be known to everyone outside the hardcore fan base. I would hope that Almeida takes notice of the champions mistake of not trying to learn English, and receive all the benefits that comes with it, even if not perfect. See for example the strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and the love she gets by her ability to be able to communicate with her fans.


Alexa Grasso (7-0) – Invicta FC – Strawweight

Dana White told us, if you aren’t familiar with Grasso yet, you surely will be.

The 22-year-old Mexican native is technical in her approach and very exciting to watch fight. Her head movement combined with her kickboxing in use of attack and defense is a sight for the eyes. She is simply incredible. UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm has the best boxing pedigree in MMA today, but I promise you, she doesn’t move her head as well as Grasso does when she fights. Not to discredit the fantastic champion that is Holly Holm.

Since her last fight against Mizuki Inoue, Grasso has proved to everyone, that her hype is more than worthy.

She has been scheduled to fight for the Invicta FC’s strawweight title two times, but has been forced to pull out on both occasions because of injuries. If she does fight for the title in Invicta FC and wins, I believe she will be scooped up by the UFC and brought to the bigger platform.

About The Author

Christian Larusson
Staff Writer

Christian Larusson is a passionate Mixed Martial Arts fan. With experience in writing for Swedish MMA sites, he now solely writes in English through blogging, PunchDrunkSports and The MMA Corner. Got his heart broken early in his life when a friend, ‘Judas’, told him that WWE/WWF wasn’t real. Then one day, he saw MMA on a friend's computer, he was overwhelmed with emotions from what his eyes had just seen. He´s been in love ever since. Christian has been published in different Swedish papers and books, nothing to do with MMA though, so who gives a shh-.