The UFC has a huge pool of skilled MMA stars. With spectators focused on a handful, they miss out on developing talent. Every year, new names enter the fray and steal the show with their distinct fighting styles and skills.
Israel Adesanya, Justin Gaethje, Cyril Gane, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Sean O'Malley are just a few names who have risen to stardom since making their promotional debut for UFC just a few years ago.
With the UFC signing a bunch of newcomers in 2021, fresh faces are emerging to become the PPV-selling giants of tomorrow.
Take a look at five of the most exciting UFC fighters who are yet to make their promotional debut in 2021.
5. Paddy Pimblett
Paddy Pimblett (16-3-0) finally signed with the UFC after picking up the 16th win of his career at Cage Warriors 122. Due to make his promotional debut with the UFC, Pimblett is likely to be an exciting addition to the lightweight division.
Nicknamed 'Paddy the Baddy,' the 26-year-old has had his eyes on the big stage for years now. He started off his MMA career in the UK as a featherweight by competing in a bunch of different domestic promotions like Olympian MMA Championships, Cage Contender and Full Contact Contender.
But Paddy Pimblett started making waves with Cage Warriors after a nine-fight winning streak, earning the Cage Warriors and Full Contact Contender featherweight titles along the way.
He defended his title against current UFC fighter Julian Erosa in 2016 and was just a step away from making his UFC debut. However, he soon lost the belt to Nad Narimani and watched him earn a call-up to the big stage instead.
Paddy Pimblett soon moved up to the lightweight division and earned a shot at the vacant title after submitting Alexis Savvidis at Cage Warriors 90 in 2018. The Liverpool native soon lost another fight via decision and got his fights canceled due to the pandemic.
But Paddy Pimblett soon bounced back with two back-to-back wins. He won against Decky Dalton via TKO at Cage Warriors 113, and defeated Davide Martinez at Cage Warriors 122 via submission to finally make UFC president Dana White pick up his phone.
4. Orion Cosce
Orion 'Galaxy' Cosce (7-0-0) was set to make his debut for at the big stage at UFC 155, after defeating Matt Dixon via TKO in Dana White's Contender Series in 2020. However, the welterweight fighter had to pull out of the event due to a dislocated hip.
Yet to make his promotional debut with the UFC, Orioc Cosce is undefeated in all seven of his fights since turning pro in 2018. The 26-year-old was a submission specialist during his amateur career, winning all of his fights via that method.
However, since turning pro in 2018, Orioc Cosce has turned into a knockout artist of sorts, displaying his well-rounded game. In the seven fights of his pro career, Orioc has five TKOs, one KO and one submission - four of those wins coming in the first round.
Presently, Orion 'Galaxy' Cosce is recovered and ready. He wants at least four fights in 2021, and speaking about his prospective opponents, Cosce said: "I'm down to fight whoever."
3. Erin Blanchfield
Competing and training in jiu-jitsu since she was 12 years old, Erin 'Cold Blooded' Blanchfield has six wins and one loss in her pro MMA career.
She started off her pro career at Cage Fury Fighting Championships, where she battered Whittany Pyles to win in the first round via TKO (doctor stoppage).
Moving on to Invicta FC, Erin Blanchfield fought another six bouts, winning five and losing one. In her professional career, Cold Blooded has two KO/TKO finishes, one via submission, and three wins via decision. Her only professional loss came (via decision) against Tracy Cortez back in February 2019.
At 21 years of age, Erin Blanchfield (6-1) is now one of the leading bantamweight prospects in women's MMA. Based out of New York, Blanchfield will face Norma Dumont (5-1) in her debut the big stage at UFC Vegas 23 in April 2021.
2. Dean Barry
Coming out of Dublin, Ireland, Dean 'The Sniper' Barry joined the UFC with a 3-1 record to his name. As his nickname suggests, Dean Barry is a seasoned striker. It is also reflected by the fact that all of his pro wins have come via KO/TKO, and all of them in the first round.
Dean Barry started off his professional career with local promotions like Shamrock FC, BAMMA, and Titan FC, before moving on to UAE Warriors, where he got his last pro win after a landing a KO in the first 30 seconds of the first round in 2020.
The 28-year-old's second pro fight came for BAMMA, where he lost against Anthony Taylor via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round.
Dean Barry's four professional fights do not completely reflect his experience in MMA. 'The Sniper' is a multi-time underage kickboxing world champion. He was supposed to make his UFC debut against Mike Jackson in 2021 but the fight got canceled twice, with both the fighters pulling out once each.
1. Giacomo Lemos
Giacomo Lemos was supposed to make his UFC debut two years ago in 2019. However, with USADA slapping a two-year ban owing to a drug-test coming back positive, the Brazilian's dream was delayed until mid-to-late 2021.
With a 6-0 record in his professional career, Giacomo Lemos poses a challenge to all the fighters in the UFC heavyweight division.
The 'Viking' made his professional debut with a submission win over Roberto Piazza in 2016. However, he soon came into his own as he ended all of his remaining five fights with a KO/TKO.
His last pro fight with Korean promotion Angel's Fighting Championship saw Giacomo Lemos defeat Jun Soo Lim to pick up the open weight title.
It was only after his sixth professional win, coming in 2019, that the UFC offered the Brazilian a contract. He was set to face Tanner Bose at UFC 240 but was banned for two years following the USADA announcement.
With the ban now coming to an end, Giacomo Lemos is ready to make his bow on the big stage in July 2021. The 31-year-old heavyweight told Sportskeeda: "I return in July for UFC. Now I'm training hard. I wait for the UFC, [to] finish the ban and return with all my force."