The UFC is home to some of the most talented mixed martial artists in the world. And that not only stands true for its veterans, like Jon Jones, Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson but also for the younger generation of fighters, many of whom have found success early in their UFC careers. Here, we take a closer look at that class of fighters as we rank the top 15 UFC fighters who haven’t hit their 26th birthday yet.
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Undefeated light heavyweight Tyson Pedro has finished both of his fights in the Octagon, one by TKO via elbows and another by rear-naked choke of fellow prospect Khalil Rountree.
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23-year-old Frenchman Tom Duquesnoy was just as dynamic as advertised as he used a pair of elbows to score a KO win in his UFC debut in April.
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Maryna Moroz has won three of her four UFC bouts and looks for her third straight win when she battles Carla Esparza in June. If she can earn a win against the former champion, she could put herself just a win or two away from challenging for the belt.
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Marc Diakiese can talk the talk and has been walking the walk since entering the Octagon last fall. The 24-year-old won his first fight via second-round TKO and his latest victory saw him fold up Teemu Packalen en route to his first “Performance of the Night” bonus.
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In less than a year, Brandon Moreno has gone from losing his quarterfinal bout on season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter to seventh in the flyweight rankings with two “Performance of the Night” bonuses under his belt. Moreno, who earned the biggest win of his career in April when he submitted Dustin Ortiz, doesn’t turn 24 until December.
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Leon Edwards has quietly flown under the radar but he won’t be able to do that for much longer after cracking the welterweight rankings last week. Edwards, now 15th, has won three straight fights and since 2015 has only lost to 10th ranked Kamaru Usman. At 25, he’s currently the youngest fighter ranked in the welterweight top 15.
Paige VanZant has lost two of her last three but it’s hard to knock her considering those losses have come against Namajunas and strawweight contender Michelle Waterson. The Team Alpha Male fighter is still just 23 and has already racked up three finishes in her short UFC career.
Thomas Almeida’s only loss inside the Octagon has come against Cody Garbrandt. The rest of his opponents he’s embarrassed either with a devastating knockout or lopsided decision. In his career, the 25-year-old Brazilian has 17 wins by KO and four by submission, and he’s got plenty of time left in his UFC career to rack up even more finishes.
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23-year-old Ray Borg joins Pettis in an intriguing up-and-coming class of flyweights set to challenge Demetrious Johnson’s belt in the near future. Borg has won five of his seven UFC bouts and his current two-fight win streak might be enough to propel him into a title fight next.
Sergio Pettis, the younger brother of former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, has been fighting under the UFC banner for almost four years. But at 23 years old, he’s still one of the youngest fighters on the roster. Pettis has lost just twice in his UFC career but appears to have found a home for himself at flyweight, where he’s won three straight en route to his spot at sixth in the division rankings.
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After losing his debut to Al Iaquinta in his debut back in 2014, Kevin Lee has won eight of his last nine fights while finishing his last three opponents. And he did so all before turning 25. The 24-year-old Detroit native is the youngest fighter ranked in the lightweight top 15 and touts a well-rounded game that should see him rise even further in the standings and on this list in the coming year.
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Rose Namajunas has shown flashes of brilliance during her UFC career and after her latest win, a second-round submission of Michelle Waterson, showed that she is ready to live up to her massive potential. Namajunas is just 24 but has already amassed a 7-3 professional record while climbing all the way to fourth in the strawweight rankings.
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High-flying featherweight Yair Rodriguez, 25, has won all six of his UFC bouts and is coming off an absolute beatdown of former champion BJ Penn, where he finished the fight with a 55-4 advantage in significant strikes. If Rodriguez can handle business against UFC 211 opponent Frankie Edgar and Holloway gets past Aldo, fans could be in store for a title fight between two of the best prospect on the roster before the end of the year.
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Max Holloway hasn’t lost a fight since “Frozen” left theaters. That loss happened to come against Conor McGregror and since then, “Blessed” has reeled off 10 straight wins, including victories over Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas and Cub Swanson. The now-interim featherweight titleholder looks to unify the belt against Jose Aldo in June at UFC 212 in Brazil. If he can get past the longtime champion, he could jump into the No. 1 spot on this list before he turns 26 in December.
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The UFC bantamweight champion and the only man to beat Dominick Cruz inside the Octagon is only 25 years old. Cody Garbrandt has achieved a lot during his short UFC career, winning six fights in two years, including four by KO or TKO. He’s got a grudge match coming up against former teammate TJ Dillashaw later this year and all signs point to a rematch with Cruz at some point if he can successfully beat Dillashaw. Victories in both those fights could see him hit rarified air in UFC circles.