5 Featherweights I Expect UFC to Sign in 2017

The UFC’s featherweight division has lots of talent.  However, it may be the most difficult division to get into the

Paddy Pimblett, Ashleigh Grimshaw

UFC.  They only signed 7 featherweights in all of 2016.  I expect that number to go up slightly in 2017, but the fact remains that the door is much smaller for the featherweights into the UFC.    The best hope for many of these fighters is a late injury replacement.

Despite the door into the UFC being more narrow in the featherweight division, there is loads of talent out there.   Despite TUF likely going away soon, the show would have been a nice way for some of these prospects to make it into the UFC.

  1. Paddy Pimblett – Pimblett has really had some hype behind him.  His personality is infectious.  He is one of a few regional fighters who have made an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour.  The Cage Warriors featherweight champion should be firmly on the UFC’s wishlist.  However, his last fight was less than impressive.  He got a win, but many people think he lost the fight.  That performance may have slowed the UFC’s call.  He may need one impressive win before he moves to the UFC.  However, I would not be surprised if the UFC signed him and put him on their first quarter London card.
  2. Raoni Barcelos – The RFA featherweight champion has looked really good lately.  I at one time thought Raoni was one of the best prospects in the sport.  I have cooled on him a little, but I still think he is UFC level and could win fights in the UFC.  He has a title unification bout scheduled in LFA against Kevin Aguilar of February 17th.  If he wins that fight, he may get his chance.
  3. Mark Cherico – Cherico is a guy that may have been in the UFC had he not gone into a short retirement last year.  Cherico is an impressive fighter who probably has earned his shot.  I believe that an offer could come soon if he stays ready.  Most likely that would be a late notice fight.  However, if Cherico is all in and is comitted to staying in MMA, he will eventually get to the UFC.
  4. Jon Neal – Neal could have made the list as a lightweight.  He has recently dropped to featherweight and I believe that drop makes him one of the most coveted prospects in the division.   I really like Neal’s overall game and think it is suited well for the UFC.   He is able to finish fights, which certainly helps his case.  Neal is a bit of an under the radar guy, but I am sure Sean Shelby is aware of him.
  5. Manny Bermudez – Bermudez is an undefeated fighter who is coming off of a big win over Saul Almeida.  He has been very active sicne turning professional.  He has not even been a professional for 2 years yet. I look for Bermudez to be signed later in the year if he can rack up a few more solid wins on the regional scene.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a place like LFA.

Others: Arman Ospanov, Bill Algeo, Mike Tobin, Alex da Silva, Jared Gordon

Note: We listed Grant Dawson at lightweight, but he is most likely staying in the featherweight division.  If he does, he is a top 10 featherweight prospect

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