It’s a busy weekend in the MMA world, and while the most attention will be paid to UFC London, there are plenty of prospects to keep an eye on.
Brave CF 22 | Friday | Philippines
Bantamweight, Stephen Loman (12-2)
I’ve had my doubts mentioning Loman on this list, but now on a six-fight win streak and two title defenses, he deserves it. Loman has a background in Wushu Sanda. On the feet he isn’t too effective but he has power and timing. He has excellent level changes and once on the mat, he is in his world. He thrives in transitions and his six decision wins prove he can fight his fight for three to five rounds. He fights Elias Boudegzdame (15-5), who is coming off a loss but this is a huge test for both guys.
Titan FC 53 | Friday | Florida
Welterweight, Jared Gooden (13-2)
Gooden is an excellent welterweight prospect who has been tearing up the regional scene lately as he is on a six-fight win streak. Gooden is 7-1 in his last eight fights with his loss coming to top prospect Julien Williams. He does have a win over WEC/TUF 14 veteran Micah Miller though. Gooden has some holes as he still needs to work on like his takedown defense. Gooden is well-rounded with good wrestling, striking, and athleticism. He fights former UFC fighter Michael Graves (7-1-2), who is a huge test for Gooden. If Gooden wins, that should be his ticket to the big show.
EFC Worldwide 77 | Saturday | South Africa
Lightweight, Roedie Roets (5-0)
Roets is riding in with a lot of hype behind him as he took gold in the men’s lightweight final at the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) World Championships. He is a multiple-time national wrestling champion and he has competed in many jiu-jitsu competitions as well as being an MMA champion in his amateur career. The mat is obviously where he wants to be as his positional grappling is fantastic as well as his cardio. On the feet, he’s still progressing but he has decent kickboxing and does a good job using his hands to close the distance. He fights Pierre Botha (9-7-1) who is not a high-level opponent.
ACA 93 | Friday | Russia
Featherweight, Salman Zhamaldaev (16-1)
After losing his very first professional bout, Salman has gone on to win 16 straight. Salman has beat very good competition proving he is a top 145-pound prospect out of Russia. If the fight isn’t finished in the first two rounds, Salman has no problem going the distance as he’s done it in his last six bouts. Salman is well rounded and very dangerous everywhere. On the feet, he is an excellent counter striker and is very effective at kicking the lower calf of his opponent. On the mat, he holds four submissions but really relies on control. He fights Marat Balaev (10-1), who is a tough fighter.
Bantamweight, Rustam Kerimov (12-0)
Kerimov is a product out of a top camp in DagFighter and is one of the best up-and-comers out of Russia right now. Like most Dagestan fighters, Kerimov is an excellent wrestler. Kerimov has beat solid competition, most notably a good prospect in Alexander Peduson, legend Takeya Mizugaki, and Oleg Borisov. Kerimov is obviously a good wrestler but it’s his timing on his shots that is done so well to complement his best weapon of ground-and-pound. On the feet, he is a good kickboxer along with good power in his hands. He fights Rakhman Dudaev (22-4), who is solid, but I think Kerimov is on another level.
Heavyweight, Amir Aliakbari (9-1)
Aliakbari is a very accomplished Greco-Roman Olympic wrestler, and he’s transitioned well to MMA. He can use his strength to suplex his opponents repeatedly, and he has good pressure on top with solid ground-and-pound. Sometimes he does so much with his wrestling that he runs out of energy by the end of the fight, but if he learns to be more conservative or ups his cardio, he will be a huge threat. He fights Shelton Graves (9-3) who is tough, but Amir should just be too much for him.
Featherweight, Akhmed Shervaniev (12-0-1)
Russia is booming with top-notch prospects and the 21-year-old from Grozny is a legit talent. Shervaniev is apart of Akhmat Fight Club with the likes of many top Russian prospects. Shervaniev has four submission wins but he really wants to keep the fight on the feet and his excellent takedown defense really helps that. On the feet, you can always see him switching stances and throwing more than one strike. While he can be too patient at times, he is very accurate and quick. I really like everything Shervaniev does and I think he has a bright future. He fights Tural Ragimov (17-5) who is coming off a loss.
XFN 17 | Saturday | Czech Republic
Middleweight, Makhmud Muradov (18-6)
The Uzbekistan-born fighter has a lot of experience with 24 total fights at only 28-years-old. Muradov relies on his explosiveness on the feet with straight punches and has shown the ability to finish with a flying knee. His takedowns usually come just from him bulldozing over his opponents. He’s at best on top with smashing ground-and-pound until the ref steps in. He fights Diego Gonzalez (20-12), who he should beat.
300 Sparta 30 | Saturday | Peru
Bantamweight, Daniel Marcos (10-0)
Marcos is one of the best prospects out of Peru with an impressive record over some decent regional competition. Marcos is an aggressive fighter who will move forward and throw volume. Marcos doesn’t have power, but he will let his hands go and throws a lot of heavy leg kicks. His wrestling is also very good and he has good ground-and-pound. He fights Roy Quispe (5-4), who is coming off a loss.