A great man once said that geology was the study of pressure and time. That man’s name was Red, and although he was simply using the phrase as a metaphor for prison life, he could’ve just as easily been talking about hype. Because hype, not unlike geology, has the ability to form diamonds from coal, and just as easily crush the greatest boulders into dust.
As MMA fans, we know the hype game more than any; if we’re not prematurely declaring it “The_____Era,” then we’re likely discrediting legends of the sport, even going as far to say that their wins never held any validity in the first place. Sounds insane, doesn’t it? Well, welcome to the world of cyberhype, the deadliest, fastest spreading strand of hype there is. And as with Kei$ha and CSI spin-offs, there is little we can do to stop this disease, so instead we’ll just try and act like we were into it before it got popular.
Here are five of the hottest prospects in the UFC, ranked in order of how long we knew about them before you did.
5. Stephen Thompson
Last three fights: (W) Dan Stittgen via KO, (W) Patrick Mandio via UD, (W) William Kuhn via UD
There isn’t much we can say about Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson that his kickboxing and MMA records don’t. The man has strung together 63 consecutive wins in mixed competition, most recently starching Daniel Stittgen ^ at UFC 143. The hype surrounding Thompson has been overlooked by some, and will be put to the test when he takes on TUF 7 vet Matt Brown at UFC 145.
4. Che Mills
Last three fights: (W) Chris Cope via TKO, (W) Marcio Cesar via KO, (W) Magomed Shikshabekov via UD
Former Cage Rage Welterweight champ Che “Beautiful” Mills had a rough start to his UFC career, falling to a heel hook in a preliminary match on the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter to eventual season winner James Wilks. In the time since, however, Mills has gone 7-2, including wins over Jake Hecht and the above destruction of Chris Cope. Fun Fact: He also holds a pair of (T)KO wins over current DREAM Welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis. Mills will be squaring off against Rory MacDonald at UFC 145 in a match that will truly show us what he’s made of. Speaking of “Ares”…
With his solid submission prowess, aggressive and diverse striking attack, and powerful wrestling base, it’s hard to really spot a weakness in Macdonald’s game. The only blemish on his record came via last second TKO loss to current welterweight interim champ Carlos Condit, in a match that many would argue he was ahead on going into the third round. We hate to speak in cliches, but the sky is the limit for this kid. In fact, we imagine he’ll be getting a much deserved rematch with Condit in the not-to-distant future. Unless Che Mills has something to say about it, of course.