UFC FN 82 Showcases Next Batch of Top Contenders

There was a lot of adversity facing UFC FN 82 this Saturday.  The event had been pulled off of Pay-Per-View, it had lost both of the fighters that were set to fight in the headline attraction, effectively making a main event reconstruction impossible.  But UFC FN 82 soldiered on with what was still an exciting fight card on Fox Sports 1 that exceeded expectations, and ended up showcasing several fighters that could be among the next top contenders in the UFC in 2016.

Stephen Thompson

Make no mistake, a star was born on Saturday.  While Thompson may have turned some heads back in July when he knocked out Jake Ellenberger in his last fight, he now has the full attention of the welterweight division.  Thompson is on a phenomenal six-fight win streak (the longest in the welterweight division), and just beat the former welterweight champion of the world, Johny Hendricks.  Not only did he beat Hendricks, but he also became the first fighter in history to finish him.

Thompson had Hendricks looking sloppy and desperate, and perfectly countered “Big Rigg” every time the former champ rushed in.  The “Wonderboy” definitely put himself on the map on Saturday, and could very well have earned himself a title shot against Robbie Lawler.  But regardless of who he fights next, there will be a lot of attention paid to the career of Thompson in the coming months.

Mickey Gall/CM Punk

Maybe I’m making too much about a 2-0 fighter fighting a 0-0 fighter; but believe me, this fight will get some serious hype.  And it’s no wonder why, considering the kind of attention and fan presence that Punk brings with him.  Punk was easily on of the most charismatic WWE champions in recent history, and he will certainty bring many of those WWE fans over to the UFC with him when he makes his debut against Gall.  While many MMA traditionalists will probably tune in in hopes of seeing this pro wrestler get knocked out, the fight will still draw well regardless of who wins, and it’s very likely a star could emerge afterwards.

Justin Scoggins

Let me ask you this; why not Scoggins?  Scoggins is coming off a great performance on Saturday, and afterwards cut a monster promo that will certainly help put himself on the map.

“Dana White, Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, I don’t know who I’ve got to talk to: Don’t put me on the shelf for that long again,” Scoggins said after the victory. “Let me get back in there and let me be a world champion this year. 2016 is Justin Scoggins’ year. Don’t sit me on the shelf. I’m ready to go right now. Put me in there next month. I’m going to win that world title this year, baby.” 

After his performance on Saturday, Scoggins may have a higher profile fight heading his way.

Derek Lewis

Lewis may have some of the heaviest hands in the heavyweight division, and is capable of knocking out anyone at seemingly anytime.   The man known as the “Black Beast” has 14 MMA wins, all have come via a finish, and 13 of which have come by KO/TKO.  Lewis has scary knockout power and is always dangerous, and after putting together two very impressive TKO victories in the past five months, it may be time to give him a step up in competition.  While he may still be far away from that Cain Velasquez fight he once asked for, Lewis impresses in the Octagon, and may be one of the heavyweight division’s emerging stars.

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