5 Top Fighters Signed By The UFC In 2018
With the number of shows that the UFC put on each year seemingly ever-growing, and the roster always in flux due to retirements, cuts, free agency and USADA suspensions, it’s no surprise that the world’s biggest MMA promotion is forever adding talent to its ranks.
2018 hasn’t seen any major free agents make their way into the Octagon just yet – at least nobody on the level of 2017’s debutants Justin Gaethje and Marlon Moraes, for instance – but already some of the year’s new signings have made a splash in the rankings.
Here are 5 top fighters who have signed with the UFC in 2018.
#1 Israel Adesanya
Of all of 2018’s Octagon debutants, perhaps nobody has made as big an impact as Israel Adesanya. ‘The Last Stylebender’, a Nigerian born, New Zealand based Middleweight, joined the UFC after an extensive career in both professional boxing and kickboxing. By the time he made his UFC debut in February, he’d racked up an unbeaten professional MMA record of 11-0, with all of his wins coming via KO or TKO.
In his debut win at UFC 221 over Rob Wilkinson was to be expected, what Adesanya has achieved since has been far more surprising. Wilkinson was comfortably dispatched despite being able to pin Adesanya into the fence on numerous occasions, and when the Stylebender struggled past Marvin Vettori in April due to the Italian’s grappling, it appeared that the hype train surrounding the striker would slow down.
That wasn’t the case though, as Adesanya was next matched with top ten contender Brad Tavares in the main event of July’s Ultimate Fighter XXVII Finale. Despite being Adesanya’s toughest test to date, the Hawaiian was comfortably beaten over five rounds, as he had no answer for the Stylebender’s striking, speed, and perfect use of distance and timing.
Now sitting at #9 in the UFC’s official rankings and set to face #6 ranked Derek Brunson at November’s UFC 230, if Adesanya can pick up his fourth win of 2018, he’ll likely find himself in title contention come 2019. Not bad for a fighter who only debuted in February!