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The Top Five Most Exciting UFC Newcomers to Watch in 2014

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Photo via UFC.com / Getty Images

2013 was a great year for the UFC and one of the many exciting things to come from it was a solid group of UFC newcomers. For the sake of this list we’ll exclude Strikeforce and Women’s fighters as their impact was multiplied due to their high profile. Have a look at the top 5 Most Exciting UFC debutants of 2013 to look out for in 2014.

MMA: UFC TUF 17 Finale-Hall vs Gastelum

5. Kelvin Gastelum

Division: Welterweight

2013 UFC Record: 2-0

Kelvin Gastelum broke onto the UFC scene as a quiet but deadly middleweight competitor on season seventeen of the Ultimate Fighter. Kelvin was the underdog going into each of his fights on the show but finished everyone he faced on his way to a showdown in the finals with highly touted Uriah Hall. Gastelum beat the odds again in the finals downing the favored Hall by decision. Shortly after his bout with Hall, Gastelum dropped from Middleweight to Welterweight and was matched with another rising prospect in Brian Melancon. Melancon was no match for Gastelum’s pace and was quickly submitted in the first round. Kelvin Gastelum showed loads of promise during 2013 and looks to continue his momentum in 2014 as he is angling for a shot at Rick Story at UFC 171 in March.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

4. Ryan LaFlare

Division: Welterweight

2013 UFC Record: 3-0

Ryan LaFlare’s rookie UFC year was far from the most glamorous but his overall polish in all areas of MMA helped him get to number four on this list. In 2013 LaFlare posted wins over Benny Alloway, Santiago Ponzinibbio, and Court McGee. His bout with McGee was particularly impressive as McGee is a solid UFC veteran who had no answer for LaFlare’s ability to mix up his offense. LaFlare never finished an opponent inside the Octagon but his rookie high three wins and overall dominance make him a must watch fighter in 2014.

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

3. Conor McGregor

Division: Featherweight

2013 UFC Record: 2-0

The hype surrounding Ireland’s Conor McGregor was higher than anyother UFC debuant on this list and he did not dissappoint. McGregor made his UFC debut in Sweden against Marcus Brimage who was riding a hot streak of his own with UFC wins over Maximo Blanco, Jimy Hettes, and Stephen Bass. McGregor showed little disdain for Brimage’s resume knocking out the Ultimate Fighter veteran in just over a minute. McGregor’s success continued as he battered Hawaiian striker Max Holloway in a three round rout. In combination with his fighting skills, McGregor has elevated his popularity with his Chael Sonnen-esque quips towards fighters of all divisions. McGregor is currently recovering from knee surgery he had at the end of 2013 and hopes to add more victims to his hit list in 2014.

 Ali-Bagautinov

2. Ali Bagautinov

Divison: Flyweight

2013 UFC Record: 2-0

Russian Flyweight Ali Bagautinov was somewhat unhearalded coming into his UFC debut against Marcos Vinicius but changed that in a big way with a third round TKO over the Brazilian. Bagautinov’s second fight was even more impressive as he handed top ten flyweight Tim Elliot a unanimous decision loss back in November. Bagautinov has shown heavy hands, solid wrestling, and good submission defense thus far in the octagon and could be next in line for a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s flyweight title with a win over John Lineker at UFC 169.

 

Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

1. Brandon Thatch

Division: Welterweight

2013 UFC Record: 2-0

Fighting out of the Grudge Training Center in Denver, Colorado, Brandon Thatch made huge waves in the welterweight division with his UFC debut in August of 2013. Thatch needed only one minute and twenty-three seconds to dispatch of Justin Edwards with knees and punches. Just a little over two months later, Thatch made his return to the Octagon to face long time UFC veteran Paulo Thiago. After two minutes and ten seconds Paulo Thiago was on his hands and knees tapping to strikes after being floored with a knee to the liver. The pure devastation Thatch has shown inside the octagon helped him jump to the top of this list and made him the must-watch rising star of 2013.

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Daniel Reveles
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Daniel Reveles' interest in Mixed Martial Arts began at the age of fourteen while attending a Fantasy Football draft at a Friend's house. That day Daniel's buddies ordered UFC 88 on Pay-Per-View featuring lauded striker and hometown hero Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell squaring off with Division One Wrestler “Suga” Rashad Evans. After seeing “the wrestler” Rashad Evans put the Ice Man out cold with an overhand right, Daniel became instantly hooked by the unpredictability of the sport. Since that moment Daniel has become well versed in Mixed Martial Arts History and has yet to miss an event. Daniel is currently studying at the University of California Santa Barbara to receive his Bachelor's Degree in Communications with hopes of becoming the next big media mogul. When he is not watching MMA or studying you can find Daniel hanging out with his family and friends or taking in a game at the lovely Dodger Stadium.