Five months of non-stop UFC action are now in the books, with the promotion having put on several incredible shows in 2021 so far.
Undoubtedly the highest standard in professional MMA in the world at the moment, the UFC demands perfection from its athletes. Aging veterans like Alistair Overeem, Junior dos Santos and Tyron Woodley have left the UFC this year.
On the other side of the coin, a number of young prospects and world-class fighters have made their UFC debut in 2021. Here are the three best UFC debuts of the calendar year so far.
#3 Uros Medic – UFC 259
UFC 259 in March saw three title fights on the main card and was definitely one of the best PPVs in the history of the promotion. And like any good show, it featured excellent prelim action.
On the early preliminary card, lightweight Uros Medic made his UFC debut against Aalon Cruz. ‘The Doctor’, who broke through with a TKO win over Mikey Gonzalez on Dana White’s Contender Series, recorded another first-round victory to announce his arrival on the UFC stage. Medic dropped Cruz early with a right hand, before landing a knee and following it up with severe ground-and-pound.
Medic’s comprehensive outclassing of Cruz ensured that fans have taken note of him as a future lightweight contender. Undefeated at 7-0 and blessed with immense skills in more than one department, he will take on Jalin Turner at UFC 266 next.
#2 Umar Nurmagomedov – UFC on ESPN 20
Another undefeated prospect in the UFC, Umar Nurmagomedov sizzled on his promotional debut in January. The 25-year-old, who is former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin, took on Sergey Morozov in a bantamweight bout.
Umar started the fight well, throwing consistent and powerful kicks before taking Morozov down in expected fashion. He landed 11 significant strikes in the first round while absorbing only three, including two takedowns. And in the second, the Dagestani exploded.
Umar landed three takedowns and 70% of his significant strikers before locking in a rear-naked choke to submit Morozov. He appears to be one for the future, with his kicking game and general striking prowess touted to differentiate him from his fighting family.
#1 Michael Chandler – UFC 257
Michael Chandler lost his UFC lightweight title bout at UFC 262 against Charles Oliveira, but he remains one of the best contenders in the division. Part of his stellar reputation is down to the way he dismanted Dan Hooker during his promotional debut at UFC 259.
In the co-main event of the card headlined by Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, former Bellator lightweight champion Chandler had the perfect opportunity to impress. And he did, in stellar fashion, by knocking Hooker out in the very first round.
Chandler’s explosiveness and speed were on full display at UFC 259, and even against Oliveira. It might not be long before we see him compete for the UFC lightweight title again.
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