At UFC 200, there will be three championship belts on the line, and many eager MMA fighters from several divisions are watching to see who they may get a chance challenge down the line.
The truth is, no matter how unpopular someone is or how unlikely it is that they become champion, anything can happen. Did anyone think Bisping was going to beat Rockhold? Did anyone think Holm was going to beat Rousey? The possibilities are endless when it comes to underdogs in title shots, and I've compiled a list of 10 fighters that I think will eventually hold a belt.
1. Cody Garbrandt
The protege of The California Kid himself Urijah Faber, Cody Garbrandt has taken the bantamweight division by storm. Although he only has eight wins to his name, he's undefeated, and has beaten the likes of previously undefeated Thomas Almeida (who had a 21-0 record at the time).
So far "No Love" has been a walking underestimation, but with his recent win over Almeida, I think he'll start making a name for himself extremely soon. If anyone can knock out the illusive Dominick Cruz, it's Garbrandt. With the knowledge of Urijah Faber and the explosives he calls hands, Cody will get a belt sooner or later.
2. Travis Browne
Travis Browne is a staple in the heavyweight division, and is already facing former champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 200. Depending on how that fight goes, Browne could be a contender for the belt in the near future. When you think about Heavyweights, you think about powerful guys who are too slow and tire easily, right?
That's where Travis Browne proves you wrong. Not only does this guy have dynamite in his hands, but he has arguably the best takedown defense in the UFC, and is much faster than most people in the division.
Long story short, if Travis wins against Cain on July 9, he's for sure a contender for the belt in my mind.
3. Donald Cerrone
Whether he's fighting at welterweight or at lightweight, Donald Cerrone completely dominates his opponents. There's no quit in this Cowboy, and he's looked sensational as of late.
While Cerrone should win one or two more fights before gunning for gold, there's no argument that he can be a contender if he wishes to be. The welterweight division is stacked with contenders right now, but if Cerrone went up against the winner of Dos Anjos vs. Alvarez, I'm confident that he could break either one like the broncos they are.
4. Ben Rothwell
If you saw Big Ben Rothwell on the street, you might not even think he's an athlete, but don't let that fool you. Ben has declared war on the entire heavyweight division as of late, and so far it's a war he's been winning.
Rothwell racked up a win streak of four fights until his most recent loss, but being scheduled to face Werdum, he has a chance to prove he has what it takes to beat a champion level fighter. If Big Ben can pull out a win against Fabricio, then he could actually have a chance of getting the belt, and I would love to see him get that chance at what he's worked so hard to do!
5. Nate Diaz
Nate has always lived in the shadow of his older brother Nick, but that all changed when he choked out Conor McGregor. Yes, THAT Conor McGregor.
While he is scheduled for a rematch that I personally think he'll lose, there's no denying that it takes someone who is a championship level fighter to beat the new face of MMA. Like I said earlier, the welterweight division is stacked with contenders, but I think that Diaz could be one of those contenders. I would love to see him go up against someone like Stephen Thompson, Tyron Woodley, or Robbie Lawler himself, and I really think he has what it takes to beat anyone in his division.
6. Jeremy Stephens
Jeremy Stephens doesn't have the best record, but he's come off of some great wins lately, and has uncanny knockout power. While I do think that Conor McGregor will reign over the featherweight division for awhile (if he ever comes back), Stephens isn't going anywhere, and I think he'll get his chance.
At the very least, prior to getting any kind of title shot, I would love to see him fight the likes of Chad Mendes or Frankie Edgar. Even if he doesn't get it right away, I think Stephens has championship potential, and a rich future in his UFC career.
7. Ryan Hall
The most recent Ultimate Fighter winner and BJJ wizard Ryan Hall has only had one professional fight, but I'm certain that his submissions will be plaguing the featherweight division for years to come.
This guy can tap you out from a standing position, and holds his own in the striking game long enough to get you on the ground and finish you. Even McGregor himself should beware this kid's lightening fast submission techniques, and I wouldn't be surprised if he will have to in the future.
8. Urijah Faber
Yes, we did just see him go after the bantamweight belt and lose, but the truth is I don't think Faber will stop until he has that belt. He still has plenty of good years in the UFC ahead of him, and I'm positive that he'll get that belt eventually. Even if he has to fight his longtime friend T.J. Dillashaw, or his dreaded archenemy Dominick Cruz, he'll get it done.
You know Faber is at Team Alpha Male training to be stronger than ever right now, and that's the kind of spirit that deserves to have a belt attached to it. Team Alpha Male has produced so many championship level athletes (cough cough Cody Garbrandt), that it's impossible for the face of the camp to not have held a UFC belt at one time. I think that in a couple of years, after everyone's forgotten about his second loss to Cruz, Faber will end up with a belt around his waist.
9. Paige VanZant
No, this isn't a model from an MMA advertisement. The astonishingly beautiful VanZant is a monster inside the cage, despite her looks. Often being called the next Ronda Rousey, it's quite possible that she could be.
The truth is, with such a competitive and small division, chances are VanZant is going to get a chance at that belt eventually no matter what. When she does, I have no doubt that she'll win in spectacular fashion.
10. Neil Magny
I keep saying that the welterweight division is stacked with contenders and talent, but I really mean it, and Neil Magny belongs with the rest of them.
After Robbie Lawler fights Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson, Carlos Condit etc. get their shots at the belt, there's going to be a bit of an aftermath in the division. Who is talented enough to rise and prevail out of this? You guessed it, Neil Magny.
Magny's long reach and powerful strikes mixed with his well-rounded ground game could spell trouble for the best fighters out there, and when it's time for Magny to step up and get that belt, I'm sure that he's going to do just that.