The UFC heads to Rochester, New York this weekend where it pits two former lightweights, Rafael Dos Anjos and Kevin Lee, against one another at 170 pounds. With it being a Saturday night in May, it might be difficult to justify watching fighters not even relevant enough to get their picture on the UFC website (No joke, four fighters on this card do not have a picture). However, if you do decide to spend your Saturday night on the couch suffering through countless commercial breaks on a paid streaming service, there are 3 prospects outside the main event you will want watch.
Middleweight: Trevin Giles (11-0, 2-0 UFC)
Trevin Giles had a pretty memorable UFC debut, sending his opponent out of the octagon on a stretcher. Fast forward five months, he scored a beautiful third-round knockout against Antonio Braga Neto. We can expect that his third fight in the UFC should not be any less impressive. Throughout his career, Giles has proven to be an aggressive and violent fighter. In his first two UFC fights, he has landed 5.45 strikes per minute and has averaged 3.69 takedowns a fight. Additionally, 10 of his 11 wins have been finishes, 5 by way of KO and 5 by submission. Although he hasn’t fought in over a year, Giles is still one of the top prospects in the middleweight division, and with his fighting style, he’s a guy you do not want to miss.
Featherweight: Michael Trizano (11-0, 2-0 UFC)
Michael Trizano was the winner of the Ultimate Fighter season 27. While the Ultimate Fighter has given the UFC some of the best fighters in history, (Michael Bisping, Nate Diaz, Tony Ferguson and Kamaru Usman just to name a few), TUF has also had its busts (Mac Danzig, Colton Smith, and Jonathan Brookins are all fighters who have won TUF and have gone on to have rather unimpressive careers). Although Trizano’s 2-0 in the UFC, both fights were against fighters also on the season, including a win against Joe Giannetti who is no longer with the UFC. Thus, we still don’t know if Trizano is a fighter on the rise or the product of a weak season. While Trizano’s fight this weekend against Grant Dawson won’t answer all the questions surrounding Trizano’s ability, it will at least give us further insight on what to expect from the featherweight. If he is able to beat Dawson, he’ll prove he is truly a UFC caliber athlete.
Bantamweight: Aspen Ladd (7-0, 2-0 UFC)
I’ll admit it’s debatable if Aspen Ladd is truly flying under the radar. After only 2 UFC fights she is already ranked 6th in the women’s bantamweight division and is headlining the prelims this weekend. Additionally, earlier this year she was scheduled to fight former bantamweight champion Holly Holm until the UFC cancelled the bout to give Holm a title shot. Still, one could argue she deserves more recognition from the fans than she has received. Not only is she undefeated, she has finished 6 of her 7 wins, including both of her UFC wins. The only fighter she didn’t finish was Sijara Eubanks, the woman standing across from her on Saturday night. Not only will Ladd have a chance this weekend to do what she couldn’t do before, she can also prove she is one of the best fighters in the division and guarantee her next fight is against a top contender. If Ladd wins this weekend and continues on this trajectory, she could very well be fighting for the belt early next year.
If you’re still planning on skipping this card, I can’t say I blame you. However, you should still keep this prospects in mind. While not fighting in the main event this weekend, it is possible we see every one of these fighters headline a UFC event in the future.