UFC

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UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763431 Jake Ellenberger Jake+Ellenberger UFC

Coming off a win over Diego Sanchez in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 1 on Feb. 15, Jake Ellenberger (27–5) is riding a six-fight win streak after losing his UFC debut. Currently just outside the top five welterweights in the world, another win would put Ellenberger, who already owns a win over former No. 1 contender Jake Shields, in the title mix.

Matt Ryerson - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G1_20120306212615660_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G1_20120306212615660_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763428 Anthony Pettis Anthony+Pettis UFC

He's not a household name, but Anthony Pettis (15-2) has been on the radar of hardcore MMA fans for a while now. His highlight-reel "Showtime kick" in his WEC lightweight title-winning bout against current UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson last year gained him plenty of fans. His Knockout of the Night win over Joe Lauzon at UFC 144 on Feb. 26 in Japan garnered international attention. As he moves closer to a shot at the UFC belt, his star will only get brighter.

Josh Hedges - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G2_20120306212615661_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G2_20120306212615661_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763429 Rory MacDonald Rory+MacDonald UFC

Rory MacDonald's only loss of his career came against current UFC interim welterweight champon Carlos Condit at UFC 115 in June 2010. While he's only fought twice since then, the 15-1 MacDonald is widely considered one of the most talented welterweights in the world. Coming off an injury that kept him from facing Brian Ebersole at UFC 141 in December, a decisive win over Che Mills in the co-main event at UFC 145 in March will solidify his place among the best in the division.

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UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763427 Renan Barao Renan+Barao UFC

Renan Barao hasn't tasted defeat since his MMA debut in April 2005. Since then he's won 28 bouts with one no-contest. Only his last five fights have come outside his native Brazil, including two WEC wins and three victories in the UFC. His unanimous decision over Scott Jorgensen at UFC 143 in February made a lot of people take notice of the 25-year-old bantamweight.

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UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763430 Mike Easton Mike+Easton UFC

Bantamweight Mike Easton has won seven straight bouts, including his first two in the UFC. He's coming off a win over Jared Papazian at UFC on FX 1 this past January in which he showed his exciting fighting style and a physique that lends credence to his nickname "The Hulk" (not to mention his purple pants).

Don McPeak - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G5_20120306212615657_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G5_20120306212615657_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763426 Stefan Struve Stefan+Struve UFC

He's known as "Skyscraper," and the sky may be the limit for towering heavyweight Stefan Struve. The 6-foot-11 Dutch kickboxer, the tallest UFC fighter of all time, is coming off a second-round dismantling of Dave Herman at UFC on FUEL TV 1 on Feb 15. He lost his UFC debut to current heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 95 over three years ago, but has gone 7-2 in the promotion since then (he's 23-5 overall). The 24-year-old Struve has shown improvement in his game and continues to grow as a fighter.

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UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763433 Dustin Poirier Dustin+Poirier UFC

With a title-eliminator bout against fellow featherweight contender Jung Chan-Sung reportedly coming up on the UFC on FUEL TV 3 card in May, the 23-year-old Dustin Poirier (12-1, 4-0 in UFC) stands on the precipice of greatness. A win would likely pair him up with featherweight champ Jose Aldo. Poirier appeared to be on another level when he dominated Max Holloway at UFC 143 in February.

Kelvin Kuo - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G7_20120306212635663_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G7_20120306212635663_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763432 Stephen 'Wonderboy' Thompson Stephen+%27Wonderboy%27+Thompson UFC

Stephen Thompson lived up to his "Wonderboy" nickname when he leveled Dan Stittgen with a kick to the head in his UFC debut at UFC 143 on Feb. 4. Thompson was a kickboxing legend before turning to MMA, reportedly compiling a record of 56-1 (combined amateur and professional fights) with 40 KOs. It remains to be seen what kind of impact Thompson will have on the UFC's welterweight division, but if his debut was any indication, he'll be an exciting addition.

Kelvin Kuo - USA TODAY Sports http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G8_20120306212636664_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G8_20120306212636664_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763434 James Te Huna James+Te+Huna UFC

He's only fought once outside of his adopted homeland of Australia — at UFC 135 this past September in Denver —but the New Zealander light heavyweight James Te Huna impressed all who saw his dominant first-round TKO win over Aaron Rosa at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney earlier this month. At 30, the 14–5 Te Huna may be a little old to make a title run at light heavyweight, especially with a champion like Jon Jones at the top of the division, but he's shown the skills to do some damage.

Josh Hedges - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G9_20120306212636667_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G9_20120306212636667_107_80.JPG
UFC 1318583 43 Top 10 rising UFC stars 30763435 Joseph Benavidez/Ian McCall/Demetrious Johnson Joseph+Benavidez%2FIan+McCall%2FDemetrious+Johnson UFC

The winner of the first UFC flyweight title will be an instant smash. It'll just be a little while before we know who that will be. We know Joseph Benavidez will be competing for the belt, but his opponent has yet to be determined. After what UFC president Dana White called incorrect scoring in their March 3 bout, fellow flyweight semifinalists Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall (shown above) will do it again one more time in the near future. The winner between "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and "Uncle Creepy" McCall will go on to battle Benavidez for UFC's first flyweight title, as well as stardom.

Josh Hedges - Getty Images http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G10_20120306212637668_600_400.JPG http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2012/03/06/030612-ufc-top-10-rising-stars-mf-G10_20120306212637668_107_80.JPG
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