The Middleweight division, although it has never been the deepest, continues to be one of the UFC’s most consistent. From Anderson Silva through to Robert Whittaker, the division has continued to host some of the best fighters in the world. As we approach the landmark Middleweight title fight between Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero at UFC 225 I thought it would be appropriate to shed some light on some of the divisions rising talent.
With this in mind, I compiled a list of the 5 most compelling UFC Middleweights outside of the current top 10. 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.
Next Fight: TBD
Prior to his first professional loss in 2016, Tom Breese was being built as the UK’s next star. Unfortunately, that loss, followed by an extended absence from competition, has seen the hype surrounding him greatly diminish. That being said, after finally returning to the cage in impressive fashion last month, Tom Breese has shown that he still has the potential to live up to the expectations placed on him. At only 26 years of age, already five fights into his UFC career, Breese has the time and potential to grow into a future top contender in the UFC’s Middleweight division.
Breaking into the UFC with an outstanding first-round knockout of Rafael Natal, Eryk Anders made it abundantly clear that he was a Middleweight to watch. After soundly defeating Markus Perez in his second UFC appearance, Anders was catapulted into the biggest fight of his career against Lyoto Machida. Although he was narrowly defeated by Machida, Anders showed that he has what it takes to compete with the divisions elite. If he is able to use the lessons given to him in his first professional defeat and return better than ever, it is quite possible that we could one day see Eryk Anders in the top 10.
The debut season of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series was an overwhelming success. In just one season, the show has managed to birth multiple contenders and potential stars. Of the standout fighters from season one, few are as compelling as Julian Marquez. With a 7-1 record that consists of six KO/TKO finishes and one submission, Julian Marquez is powerful, well rounded and willing to battle any Middleweight in the world. Marquez’s greatest attribute may also prove to be a weakness as he continues to engage in back and forth fights against more competent opposition. That being said, regardless of the outcome every Julian Marquez fight is going to be a can’t miss event and will likely contend for fight of the night.
Aside from being every woman’s dream, Paulo Costa is a terrifying Middleweight. 11-0 as a professional, Costa has managed to finish all of his wins, including a crushing defeat of former Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks in his last fight. Costa is an aggressive striker with the ability to finish anyone in the division. At this point in his career, we have more questions than answers when it comes to his overall game. With that in mind, it is hard to suggest what the future may hold for Costa until we have seen him truly tested in the UFC. I am hopeful that his upcoming matchup with Uriah Hall will shine a light on the depth of his abilities.
Israel Adesanya is what happens when one of the best strikers to ever compete in the UFC also happens to be one of the most charismatic and likeable fighters on the roster. In only two UFC appearances, Adesanya has managed to capture the imagination of fans and the UFC alike, earning his first Main Event and shot at a shot at a top ten opponent. If he is able to defeat Brad Tavares on July 6th, Adesanya will become the fastest rising UFC fighter of all-time. Moving from his debut to being ranked in the top ten in the span of three fights and five months. Regardless of the outcome in his upcoming fight, Israel Adesanya is one of the most entertaining and promising Middleweights in the world.