What Current RFA Fighter Will Be Next to Go to UFC?


RFA has been THE launching pad for prospects into the UFC. It seems quite frequent that it is reported that a RFA fighter has been signed to the UFC. While RFA match maker Scott Cutbirth has stepped aside, he leaves behind a roster full of talent. We can be almost certain that UFC will come calling more RFA fighters. The question is not “if” it is “when?” and “who?” I take a stab at who the next RFA fighters will be to land in the UFC.

Dakota Cochrane – Cochrane is fighting for the RFA lightweight title soon. A win almost assuredly gets him a UFC call. To be honest, I am surprised he hasn’t gotten the call before now. A failed TUF bid and some inconsistent performances have hurt him, but he really has some nice names on his resume.

Mark Dickman – Dickman is another RFA guy who must be near UFC. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him as an injury replacement sooner than later. Dickman is fighting for the RFA featherweight strap at the next event. A win there would move him near the top of Joe Silva’s list.

Josh Copeland – The newly minted RFA heavyweight champion is very possibly UFC bound. There are not many undefeated heavyweight prospects. Couple that with UFC’s relationship with RFA and Copeland is most certainly on the radar.

Chidi Njokuani – The brother of UFC fighter Anthony Njokuani has had some very solid performances. He needs to show more consistency, but based on name alone he could get some UFC consideration. I think he may need one more win to get there. RFA had talked about Njokuani vs. Jouban before Jouban departed for UFC. Chidi needs a validating win and I expect that chance to come sooner rather than later.

Chris Heatherly – I think there’s a good chance we see Heatherly vs. Njokuani next. I have some questions about how Heatherly would perform in the UFC welterweight division, but he has done fairly well. His resume includes a submission win over Dakota Cochrane. How about Heatherly vs. Njokuani re-match next?

Jake Collier – Soon to be returning from injury, Collier is a bright looking prospect. He has a great striking game and an improving ground game. I think Collier has the tools to not only do well in RFA, but also in UFC.

Raoni Barcelos – Barcelos is a guy I was really high on at one time. I was even considering him as one of the best prospects in MMA, however there is something off with him. I do not know if it is a mental thing or a motivation thing, but I have reservations about him. The talent is there, no doubt. I would like to see him turn things around and make a run at the RFA featherweight title.

Andrew Sanchez – I still think Andrew Sanchez is a guy to watch. He got beat by Kevin Casey, but I really think he just made some big mistakes. Sanchez is a great grappler and those around him rave about his skills. He is still improving as a fighter. I would be surprised if he does not eventually get the call, but he may need to strong together 3 wins or so to get the chance.

Matt Manzaneres – The RFA flyweight champion has a nice shot at getting to the UFC. Any RFA champion is high on the UFC list. Manzaneres has talent. He lost his first title big against Zach Makovsky. However, Manzaneres has shown himself to have a wide variety of skills. I think he needs a solid win before we can see him in UFC, but he is inching closer and closer.

Gabriel Checco – Checco could be a opponent for the returning Jake Collier. If so, that is a great fight and a number one contender type of fight. There are some who are really high on Checco. The undefeated middleweight could also fight Andrew Sanchez. The problem is that with Sanchez, Collier and Checco all in the mix, someone will eat a loss.


Boston Salmon – He certainly has a ways to go before we can start talking UFC, but Salmon has really impressed. Now fighting at bantamweight he really has a leg up. With a 2-0 career mark, Salmon will need a few more wins, but he seems well on his way.

Christos Giagos – Coming off of a win over Sevak Magakian not too long ago, Giagos is hoping to capture RFA gold against Dakota Cochrane.

Sid Bice – A solid flyweight prospect, who really could step into contender status soon.

Jarred Mercado – A good bantamweight prospect who should be fighting for the bantamweight title next

Jan Jorgensen – While he may have lost to Copeland, he is still a Heavyweight to watch.

Note: Rasul Mirzaev and Leandro Higo would have been high on the list, but visa issues for both put their RFA futures in question.


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