There are always great talents coming up the pipeline in MMA, and this series will point out who you should keep an eye on in the regional scene this week.
XFN 356 | Friday | Oklahoma
Welterweight, Kyle Crutchmer (3-0)
Kyle Crutchmer has a background in wrestling with a very successful Division 1 career at Oklahoma State University. He was a two-time All-American and a two-time Big 12 champion. There isn’t much MMA footage on Kyle but he has finished all three of his fights. Based on what’s out there on Kyle, he obviously has excellent wrestling. He’s also shown good and active ground-and-pound. He fights Josh Weston (6-6), who is experienced but should be a win for Kyle.
LFA 59 | Friday | Arizona
Welterweight, Jared Gooden (12-2)
Jared Gooden is an excellent welterweight prospect who has been tearing up the regional scene here lately as he is on a five-fight win streak. Gooden is 6-1 in his last seven fights with his loss coming to top prospect Julien Williams and he does have a win over WEC/TUF 14 veteran Micah Miller. Gooden has some holes he still needs to work on but he is still improving and has an impressive 12-2 record. Gooden is well-rounded with good wrestling, striking, and athleticism. He fights Steven Newell (9-0), who hasn’t fought in almost two and a half years.
European Beatdown 5 | Saturday | Belgium
Lightweight, Fares Ziam (9-2)
Fares Ziam is a young fighter at 21-years-old with good experience and wins over solid competition. “Smile Killer” wants to keep the fight standing so he can use his background as a kickboxer, fighting for the well-known GLORY promotion. Ziam is very long at 6’1″ and does a good job fighting at range with kicks and long punches. He also has an underrated wrestling game with solid jiu-jitsu. Ziam is a nice prospect but he will have to improve his takedown defense going forward. He fights Yassine Belhadj (5-1).
Lightweight, Yassine Belhadj (5-1)
Yassine Belhadi lost his professional debut, but is undefeated since then, winning his last four by TKO. The Frenchman was the 2006 Taekwondo World Champion. Belhadj has spent some time on the mat and while he’s lost by an armbar he does have good ground-and-pound. With that said, on the feet is where he wants to be.
His nickname is “Crazy Legs,” and it may be because of his flexibility with his kickboxing, utilizing spinning attacks, front kicks, and many other types of kicks. He’s explosive, athletic, and has shown solid cardio as well. Belhadj is a legit finisher who knows how to close the fight when he smells blood. He’s fought subpar competition but has looked good nonetheless. He fights Fares Ziam (9-2).