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Movin’ on Up: The UFC’s Five Fastest Rising Prospects

(A preview of Gustafsson’s placement on the list? There’s only one way to find out.) 

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-offsthere 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”…

3. Rory Macdonald

Last three fights: (W) Mike Pyle via TKO, (W) Nate Diaz via UD, (L) Carlos Condit via TKO

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.

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Cagepotato Comments

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Lesnarischamp- February 16, 2012 at 7:40 am
outside of MacDonald, Weidman is the top prospect in the UFC. Honorable mention? come on..
KarmaAteMyCat- February 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm
Renan Barao is a little more then just a Prospect at this point. I agree with the RaginAsian.
Todd M- February 15, 2012 at 7:28 pm
@Organ Good call on Hettes! I'll add him to the honorable mentions. As for Lyoto, being that he's a former champ I think he's past the point of "prospect." Oh Danga, I thought you could detect invisible sarcasm font.
Jackbequick- February 15, 2012 at 3:25 pm
What about Tim Sylvia? He could beat like, 80% of the heavyweight division right now. Just don't give him a rematch with Ray "the jumpin' geriatric" Mercer.
RaginAsian- February 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm
Some of you guys need to learn to definition of "prospect". Hendricks and Poirier are contenders, the five on this list are not. Yet.
HandsofGold- February 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm
Rory Mcdonald is legit, but can somebody please please tell me wtf matyushenko was thinking? Just go back watch the clip and watch him. Meanwhile ill be wearing my favorite helmet eating crayons and licking the school bus windows while at the same time scoring higher on my act then this guy.
NinjaVanish- February 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm
I cant wait for wonderboy's hype train gets derailed.
BHOP- February 15, 2012 at 1:03 pm
Where the hell is edson barboza? Or even Johny Hendricks for fuck sakes? He knocked out john fitch in 12 seconds and he's not a rising prospect to you guys?
DopenesS- February 15, 2012 at 11:37 am
Edson Barboza, Erick Silva, Jim Hettes, Renan Pegado
Houstons db- February 15, 2012 at 11:35 am
ClamCurtains said everything I was gunna say, but a lot funnier. So, cosign Clam...
taters- February 15, 2012 at 11:20 am
I def think Weidman is a great prospect and will only continue to get better. He will be a a top tier guy.
noaschmitz- February 15, 2012 at 11:16 am
Charles Oliviera, He's super agressive, talented, and athletic. His two losses were against top lever guys in the UFC, and has pretty well handled everyone else. Also he's only 22, plenty of time to tighten up his game
Buster Hyman- February 15, 2012 at 10:26 am
do not sleep on herschel walker. this kid is dynamite.
Kid Clam Curtains- February 15, 2012 at 10:25 am
Stephen Thompson's going to get his shit pushed in once he fights one of the monster wrestlers at WW.
RSparrow- February 15, 2012 at 10:11 am
Danga, you retard, you forgot Canseco.
The12ozCurls- February 15, 2012 at 10:05 am
Rory MacDonald's only blemish on his record is the last second lost to Condit. But I will tell you that is not his only blemishes. Dude has some serious bACNE - and his shoulders look like the surface of the god damn moon with the amount of zits he's got congrigating there. That being said, he is the next big thing for my money. That video/gif of the belly to back suplex on Nate Diaz is freaking macho.
danomite- February 15, 2012 at 9:55 am
Renan Barao
Yazloz18- February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am
Says Thompson won by ID. Is that just a typo and you meant UD?
Kid Clam Curtains- February 15, 2012 at 9:30 am
You could probably put Dustin Poirier and that Renan Barao dude on the list too...
svennebanan- February 15, 2012 at 9:27 am
Kid Clam Curtains- February 15, 2012 at 9:26 am
Not a bad list but who has Che Mills even beat? He looked good against Chris Cope but the Matt Brown fight shows that means exactly shit. I think Rory will beat him down and then this list will need a new entry. I think Edson Barboza has fought and beat much better competition and is way further up the ladder in his division already.
J. Jones- February 15, 2012 at 9:23 am
Good call on Hettes! I'll add him to the honorable mentions. As for Lyoto, being that he's a former champ I think he's past the point of "prospect."
Organ Donor- February 15, 2012 at 9:21 am
Also, Lyoto Machida
Organ Donor- February 15, 2012 at 9:21 am
the guy who beat Nam Phan 30-25, obviously