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5 huge UFC debuts that will happen before 2021 ends

Alex Pereira [Image courtesy: @alexpoatanpereira on Instagram]
Alex Pereira [Image courtesy: @alexpoatanpereira on Instagram]

The hype surrounding Paddy Pimblett's UFC debut is nothing short of astronomical. So there is no better time than now to take a look at some other fighters who will be making their debuts this year.

There is a huge amount of regional talent around the world right now. Promotions like Cage Warriors, LFA and UAE Warriors are churning out future superstars.

There has also been a rise in fighters transitioning over from other combat sports such as kickboxing. These examples are followings in the footsteps of fighters such as Israel Adesanya and Giga Chikadze.

With that being said, in the following list, we will look at five fighters set to make their UFC promotional debut before the end of the year. Considering the current state of the world, there is no guarantee fights won't be pushed back, which is worth bearing in mind. Honorable mentions go to Natan Levy, Isi Fitikefu and potentially Jake Hadley.


#5. Dean Barry - UFC welterweight

Dean Barry is an Irish kickboxer who has won multiple titles all across Europe. He signed for the UFC in 2020, but visa issues and the pandemic have meant that he has been unable to make his debut so far. He has had two fights against Mike Jackson fall through, but is hoping to make his promotional debut in the coming months.

Barry currently holds a 3-1 MMA record, having finished all three of his wins by knockout. His one loss, by submission, does indicate that he may have some deficiencies when it comes to the ground game. However, as we have seen from the likes of Israel Adesanya and Giga Chikadze, these are skills that can be incorporated into a fighter's arsenal along the way.

Barry does not yet have an official date set for his UFC debut, but he has made it clear that 'The Sniper' is ready and willing.

#4. Nick Maximov - UFC middleweight

One of the latest acquisitions to the UFC's middleweight division is Nick Maximov, who is being hailed as the prodigy of the Diaz brothers. The 6-0 fighter with Russian heritage currently trains out of the Nick Diaz Academy. Maximov's initial entry into martial arts was through karate, although he has since become known for his elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu prowess.

In his six pro fights, Maximov has only gone to decision once. He has a variety of stoppages on his record, including submissions via kimura and rear-naked choke, as well as some TKOs.

The one fight he did go to decision in was against Oscar Cota on Dana White's Contender Series. It saw him put on a performance worthy of a UFC contract. He makes his debut at UFC 266 where he will take on eight-fight UFC veteran Karl Roberson.

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#3. Mike 'Blood Diamond' Mathetha - UFC welterweight

New Zealand's City Kickboxing has a very talent-rich gyms over the past few years. Israel Adesanya, Alexander Volkanovski, Dan Hooker and many more are part of the stable. Mike Mathetha, more commonly referred to by his nickname 'Blood Diamond,' is the latest CKB prospect to be signed to the UFC.

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Similar to his teammate Adesanya, Mathetha has an extensive kickboxing record prior to his transition to MMA. According to Glory Kickboxing's website, his record stands at an impressive 51-14-0. Comparatively, his MMA record is 3-0.

Mathetha will become the first Zimbabwean-born fighter to compete in the UFC and he is embracing the chance to represent his home country.

#2. Ian Garry - UFC welterweight

There seems to be a huge amount of talent coming from Cage Warriors as of late. The London-based promotion's former welterweight champion Ian Garry recently signed with the UFC.

Garry, aptly nicknamed 'The Future', holds a perfect 7-0 record with five of his seven wins coming by stoppage. In his most recent bout, he convincingly defeated Cage Warriors veteran Jack Grant, who has since signed for Bellator.

In the buildup to the Grant fight, Garry announced that he would be parting ways with his old gym Team KF. There was much speculation as to where Garry would train next. He has recently announced that he will now be working with the elite stable at Sanford MMA.

Garry does not yet have a UFC fight booked, though it would be fair to expect the young Irish prospect to make his debut before the year is out.


#1. Alex Pereira - UFC middleweight

Glory Kickboxing champion Alex Pereira is set to make his UFC debut this year. He currently holds a 3-1 MMA record, with his most recent victory coming against Thomas Powell in the main event of LFA 95.

While he may be somewhat green when it comes to MMA, Pereira has a pro kickboxing record of 33-6. 21 of his kickboxing wins came by knockout. It is here that Pereira's biggest accolade lies, as amongst those knockout wins is a finish of current UFC middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya.

In fact, Periera is the only man to have knocked out 'The Last Stylebender' in any combat sport. As reported by MMA journalist Al Zullino, Alex Pereira will make his UFC debut at UFC 268, where he will take on a veteran of the sport in Andreas Michailidis.

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Edited by John Cunningham
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