Twenty-three prospects to watch
Nothing is guaranteed in life or sport, particularly when it comes to the fight game, but Jones appears to possess traits generally associated with stud fighters throughout time. As MMA's expansion continues and a new generation takes its place in a sport featuring many more avenues for young athletes than only five years ago, it stands to reason Jones won't be the only one. In fact, even at MMA's highest levels, fighters age 23 and younger are already making their mark.
Unlike boxing, whose prospects are groomed and built through at least 20 bouts until anyone cares, all it takes is one victory in MMA to get noticed. Sure, records are important, but they're hardly the only thing that matters. And since losing isn't a death sentence to a fighter's long-term prospects, setbacks are an expected and accepted part of the sport.
Compiled here, after consultation from nearly two dozen of MMA's top matchmakers, managers and trainers, are 23 fighters worth remembering -- a tribute to Jones' youth, really.
Some you probably know. Some you probably don't. Of course, it stands to reason names weren't included that deserved to be, if only because they haven't had the opportunity to be showcased yet.
Unless circumstances dictate otherwise, these five fighters will be around the sport for many years to come. Each possesses talents that make them stand out from other fighters in their age range, which is underscored by results well beyond the regional level.
Whether they haven't had a chance yet, or had their ascension slowed by a loss, these fighters are poised in the not-too-distant future to get a shot in a major organization. Barboza, for instance, is said to be a win away from a contract with the UFC. If you haven't been made to feel old yet, realize
Something stands out among this group of fighters that places them a step above just a name to watch out for.
Simply that. Whether or not these guys pan out, they're all serious prospects being groomed for something much bigger than a run-of-the-mill career.