This weekend’s UFC Atlantic City will be the third consecutive UFC event headlined by top ten Lightweights. Although these matchups are yet to add clarity to the division’s currently jumbled title picture, they have highlighted the immense depth of talent in the weight class. Lightweight has long been and will likely to continue to be the most talent-rich division in the sport.
With this in mind, I compiled a list of the 5 most compelling UFC Lightweights outside of the current rankings. The criteria for the list is simple, to qualify the fighters must be; Currently signed to the UFC, not ranked in the Top 10 and have never fought for the title.
‘Groovy’ Lando Vannata
Next Fight: TBD
In four UFC appearances, Groovy Lando has managed to; test and almost finish the best Lightweight in the world — claim the 2016 knockout of the year and earn three Fight Of The Night bonuses. If you evaluate Vannata based on these accolades you would be correct in assuming that he is on his way to becoming one of the divisions most exciting contenders. Unfortunately, the reality is that Lando’s inexperience as a professional along with his proclivity for exciting fights has left him with a 1-2-1 record in his first four bouts. That being said, at only 26 years of age with a long career ahead of him it would be foolish to assume Lando is heading anywhere but up from here.
Daniel ‘The Hangman’ Hooker
After a 3-3 run at Featherweight, Dan Hooker has made a successful move up to Lightweight, now 2-0 in the division — both highlight-reel finishes of tough opponents. This weekend on the Main Card of UFC Atlantic City, Dan will be facing one of the divisions longest tenured and most consistent fighters in Jim Miller. The fight with Miller will be the perfect matchup to determine what the future holds for Hooker. If he is able to earn an impressive victory, Hooker will have positioned himself nicely for an opportunity to face some of the division’s top competitors.
Gregor ‘The Gift’ Gillespie
In four UFC appearances, Gregor Gillespie has displayed nothing short of dominance. As one of the most powerful grapplers in the division, Gregor is going to be a handful for almost anyone in the division. At this point in his career, it is hard to put a limit on how high Gregor could climb within the division. That being said, he is still yet to face an elite opponent, leaving us with more questions than answers when it comes to his ceiling.
Mairbek ‘Beckan’ Taisumov
Next Fight: TBD
Currently on a five-fight KO streak, Mairbek Taisumov has the potential to be a top 10 talent. Although there are still questions surrounding his game, it is clear that the Mairbek has all the skills necessary to be one of the divisions most exciting fighters. Unfortunately, the issues surrounding Taisumov recently have been due to his inability to fight. Whether it is injuries or the current issue with his Visa, Taisumov’s career is being greatly hindered by his inactivity and unreliability. If these issues can be straightened out and Mairbek can compete on a regular basis, there is nothing stopping him from becoming a top 15 Lightweight.
After convincingly beating two of the divisions most talked about prospects — Lando Vannata and Drakkar Klose — David Teymur has positioned himself as the most exciting up and coming Lightweight in the world. Since losing his professional debut, Teymur has gone on to win seven straight fights, four by knockout. Davis is a calm, technical striker with an ever-expanding, well-rounded game. Although he is yet to be tested against a ranked opponent, it is clear that the Teymur is on track to becoming one of the divisions top talents.