Every champion in MMA history started out somewhere.

For those who make it to the highest stage, the journey begins long before they strap on UFC or Bellator gloves. Modern-era fighters progress through the regional ranks with hopes of accomplishing the highest accolades. Many will try, few will succeed.

This month, five fighters on the verge of achieving major promotion notoriety – one for the second time – return to the cage for what could be their stepping stone fight. There are dozens of fighters close to making the jump in the coming weeks, but these five are particularly exemplary.

This month:

A confidant of Khabib Nurmagomedov, Zabit Magomedsharipov, and other Russian stars hopes another win on his undefeated record will get him back to the UFC after a canceled 2021 debut.
One of Texas’ top bantamweights aims to continue his streak of wins and finishes while attracting the attention of a major promotion.
A Dana White’s Contender Series alumnus still seeks to redeem himself and earn a UFC contract in a Fury FC title fight.
One of the Slovak Republic’s best pound-for-pound fighters, a KSW alumnus hopes his 12th straight win projects him into the ranks of the UFC.
A second generation MMA fighter brings a lifetime experience with a 5-0 record as he seeks an LFA title.

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