From bleacherreport.com- As the number of MMA fans grows around the world, so do the amount of fighters.
Potential fighters are training earlier and earlier in their lives, and not just in one discipline.
MMA gyms are popping up all over the country, and with that, there are more prospects coming out of the woodwork all the time.
As legends of the sport’s past fall, new future stars are building their names in an effort to take their places: future stars to push the evolution of the sport and surpass the greats before them.
Here is a look at 10 rising stars of 2010 that should not be ignored:
#10- Ross Pearson (11-3)
Around this time last year, Ross Pearson was winning The Ultimate Fighter, and accepting a contract with the UFC.
Since then he has put on stellar performances against veteran Aaron Riley—who he stopped just seconds into the second round—and tough striker Dennis Siver.
Rumor has it that Pearson will be facing Cole Miller next at UFC Fight Night 22.
#9- Phil Davis (6-0)
Since entering the UFC, Phil Davis has won a unanimous decision over the always durable Brian Stann and submitted Alexander Gustaffson via anaconda choke in the first round.
Before entering MMA, Davis was an outstanding collegiate wrestler, winning an individual (197 lbs) NCAA title in 2008.
He also won the No Gi World Jiu-Jitsu Championships as a blue belt in the super heavyweight division.
#8- Josh Grispi (13-1)
Grispi might be the best fighter in the WEC that nobody is talking about.
Likely, this silence is due to his recent long layoff on account of an ankle surgery. He injured the ankle training for the biggest fight of his career against Jens Pulver about this time last year.
Josh went through with the fight nonetheless and won via guillotine choke just 33 seconds into the fight.
Before that, in his WEC debut, Grispi submitted Mark Hominick with a rear-naked choke less than three minutes into the fight. He followed up that win with a 50 second TKO over Micah Miller.
Josh is now slated to make his return against L.C. Davis on June 20 at WEC 49.
#7- Johny Hendricks (8-0)
In 2005 and 2006, Johny Hendricks won the NCAA Division I wrestling title at 165-pounds, and he finished second in 2007.
His second place finish in 2007 was the only loss of his senior year at Oklahoma State University. Coming into the bout, Hendricks was 56-0.
Hendricks was also a four-time All-American at OSU and a three-time Big 12 conference champion.
Johny entered the WEC with a record of 3-0 and collected wins over Justin Haskins and Alex Serdyukov, before being sent to the UFC.
In his UFC debut, Hendricks stopped Amir Sodallah early in the first round. However, anyone will admit it was a very early stoppage.
Since then he has decisioned Ricardo Funch and T.J. Grant.
#6- Billy Evangelista (10-0)
Billy Evangelista has fought for the WEC and Strikeforce in a career highlighted by wins over Luke Caudillo and Jorge Gurgel.
He is currently signed to Palace Fighting Championship and Strikeforce.
He also has a KO win over former TUF alum, Marlon Sims.
#5- Pat Curran (13-3)
It is hard to call Pat Curran a prospect since he recently won the Bellator lightweight tournament.
Once you have wins over Roger Huerta and Toby Imada on your resume, you are now a contender.
Even so, Curran came out of nowhere this year to surprise everyone, and he is still not well known, due to many fans still sleeping on Bellator.
Winning a Bellator tournament is a great accomplishment and it will be something Curran can point to for the rest of his life.
Curran will now face the highly ranked Eddie Alvarez for the Bellator lightweight title. It will be a very steep task.
#4- Aaron Simpson (7-0)
Aaron Simpson is quite old in prospect standards, but he is a terrific athlete and his body has not suffered the wear and tear of a veteran fighter.
Simpson was a tremendous wrestler in high school and college, even earning NCAA All-American status in 1996 and 1998.
Since entering the UFC, Simpson has put together wins over Tim McKenzie, Ed Herman, and Tom Lawlor.
Before debuting in the UFC, Simpson knocked out David Avellan in just 18 seconds while fighting in the WEC.
Simpson is now scheduled to fight veteran Chris Leben on June 19 at The Ultimate Fighter finale.
*Note, Simpson was beaten by Chris Leben.
#3- Evan Dunham (11-0)
After his win over Tyson Griffin last Saturday at UFC 115, Evan Dunham is another fighter that is more of a contender than a prospect.
All the same, fans are still finding out about this talented Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt.
Since arriving to the UFC scene, Dunham has amassed a record of 4-0 in the UFC, with wins over Per Eklund, Marcus Aurelio, Efrain Escudero, and Tyson Griffin.
There are many options for Dunham in the UFC.
#2- Rory MacDonald (10-1)
Rory MacDonald is currently the youngest fighter signed to the UFC.
After winning his debut against Mike Guymon via armbar, MacDonald was put on the fast track with a scheduled bout against former WEC champion Carlos Condit.
After impressively winning the first two rounds, MacDonald was rocked by Condit and taken down. After around four minutes of some of the most brutal ground and pound you will ever see, the referee called off the fight with less than ten seconds left in the fight.
Rory showed no quit and took a tremendous amount of damage in that last round.
At just 20 years old, he will have plenty of time to come back from this. He is truly one of the future stars of the sport.
#1- John Hathaway (14-0)
Coming off his career best performance against Diego Sanchez at UFC 114, John Hathaway is on the verge of being a contender.
Since debuting in the UFC, Hathaway has looked sensational in running through Tom Egan, Rick Story, Paul Taylor, and Diego Sanchez.
Hathaway does not appear to have any obvious weaknesses, as he has shown awesome wrestling and striking, along with being very active from his back.
He is also very tall for a welterweight, and seems to really know how to use his reach.
Hathaway is young and confident, and should have no problem taking another step up in competition in the talented welterweight division.
Great contribution by Bill Jackson