Weekly MMA Prospect Report: Bellator 221, PFL, and More

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AJ Mckee Bellator MMA
AJ Mckee Credit: Bellator MMA

There’s a solid weekend of MMA upon us and several prospects worth your while will be featured at Bellator 221 and PFL 2019 1 among other events.

PFL 2019 1 | Thursday | New York

Lightweight, Kayla Harrison (3-0)

Kayla Harrison is a very accomplished grappler who won the gold medal in judo at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan-American Games. The judo practitioner has also a black belt in judo and has won two national championships. In her latest fight, she blitzed her opponent getting the quick takedown with an inside trip. Harrison would land solid ground and pound until she took the back and would set up and execute a beautiful armbar finish. She fights former UFC fighter Larissa Pacheco (11-2).

Middleweight, Gamzat Khiramagomedov (7-0)

The Russian hardly ever shoots for takedowns, and while he has success when he does so, his stand-up is far superior. Gamzat does have a problem throwing single shots with not much volume. With that said, he does have laser accuracy and has a quick release. He does a great job at controlling range with an aggressive opponent moving backward landing beautiful counters. Gamzat is very diverse and creative with his hands and legs while cutting slight angles perfectly. Earlier in his career, he would show a bit of Anthony Pettis’ style using the cage to try to land the big shot. He’s shown no flaws and against some good competition, this guy is legit. He fights former UFC fighter, Glaico Franca (19-5) who is a big test for Gamzat.

Welterweight, Chris Curtis (20-5)

Curtis is on a seven-fight win streak including two title defenses for CES, winning both the 170 and 185-pound title on the Canadian scene for Fight Night Medicine Hat. When you talk about a technical striker, Curtis fits that to a tee as his boxing is outstanding. The way he uses head movement is so fluid and the way he mixes in body shots in with combinations is superb. He fights Andre Fialho (10-1), who is good but Curtis should outstrike him.

Combate Americas 37 | Friday | California

Heavyweight, Eduardo Perez (2-0)

Perez is only 2-0 as a pro and went 4-0 as an amateur, but at heavyweight, which lacks talent, he looks good. He’s a good technical striker with power and exceptional hand speed. He hasn’t shown wrestling necessarily but good top position defending takedowns. He’s 6’5″ and a big boy so he uses his weight on top and lands good ground-and-pound. Perez is also training out of American Kickboxing Academy so that alone will make him better. He fights Giovani Sarran (5-3), who is coming off a loss.

LFA 66 | Friday | Utah

Light Heavyweight, Emilio Trevino (4-0)

On the feet, Trevino fights with a karate style who throws his strikes and kicks together very well. Trevino fights behind a good jab and his counter ability is excellent. He’s a distance striker and as soon as his opponent rushes in he will close the distance and get the double leg. He’s dominated on top with good positional grappling and his ground-and-pound is solid. Trevino is already much improved but his competition hasn’t been good. He fights Joe Rodriguez (8-5).

Bantamweight, Hunter Azure (5-0)

The MMA Lab product had an extensive background in wrestling before transitioning to MMA. He went 8-1 as an amateur and in his third fight as a pro, he won a regional title. The wrestler has been showing massive strides in his stand-up with powerful kicks and technical striking. He fights Lynn Schulz (6-4).

Bellator 221 | Saturday | Illinois

Welterweight, Michael Page (14-0)

Page is known for his tactics in the cage, being a very cocky but comfortable fighter that plays mind games with his opponents. Page is a dynamic kickboxer who is accurate and as athletic as you get when you look for a top prospect. He’s excellent on the feet as he is a threat at all times but many think once he fights a good wrestler he may have trouble. No matter what anyone says about the guy, he is a top-shelf prospect. He fights the well-known Douglas Lima (30-7) which is a major test for Page.

Featherweight, AJ McKee (13-0)

McKee has very good wrestling and is able to get many takedowns in a fight. McKee’s athleticism means he can get the easy double leg or just suplex his opponent to the mat. On top, McKee moves well but his control and top position are what stand out. McKee’s striking is good and still improving, he is strong in the clinch and likes to use knees, and from range he’s started to use more of his kickboxing skills, even getting a head kick KO in his career. McKee is also getting better at keeping his opponent at his preferred range, even with his ever-improving striking, the mat is where he really shows his high skill level. He fights former Bellator champion Pat Curran (23-7), who is the biggest challenge to date for Mckee.

Featherweight, Tywan Claxton (4-0)

Undefeated as a pro, Claxton also never lost in his amateur career as well going 7-0. Claxton made waves when he scored a highlight reel finish with a crazy explosive flying knee knockout on Bellator 186. Claxton though is primarily a wrestler with a background in wrestling as a Divison II All-American. He has excellent level changes and the speed behind his shots are perfect and is the reason his nickname is “Speedy”. On top is where he does his best work as his posture control is solid but it’s the constant and huge ground-and-pound he throws with elbows as well that makes him special. Claxton doesn’t play too much on the feet, but he does a great job faking the level changes and using his explosiveness and athleticism to get on the inside of his opponents. He fights James Bennett (4-1), who he should easily beat.

Featherweight, Adil Benjilany (5-1)

The Moroccan is a good developing prospect who does have holes. Benjilany does need to tighten up his takedown defense a bit and while he is a striker/kickboxer, he does tend to keep his hands too low. Benjilany has a Muay Thai background and it plays to the success he has on the feet. He has a large arsenal of attacks on the feet as his kicks are his main weapon, but he also loves the step-in elbow. Adil is always throwing a lot of volume, mixing it up well, and has a good pace for three rounds. He fights Cris Lencioni (4-2) who is on a two-fight skid.

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