It may be Contender Series season, but Bellator has quite a few notable MMA prospects competing this weekend.
Contender Series fighters will not be included due to my weekly breakdowns of those cards. Now on to the Weekly MMA prospect report.
Combate 40 | Friday | Texas
Featherweight, Ricky Palacios (11-1)
“El Gallero” is a banger who is very fun to watch as he loves to stand and trade and put on a show. Palacios can be wild at times but he is technical with good boxing with a solid jab and heavy leg kicks as well. He’s solely a striker who will test the chin of any of his opponents and has an iron chin himself. Palacios is a very good fighter who has struggled with takedown defense but he has always shown good ability to get back to his feet. He fights Cooper Gibson (9-2).
Bellator London/Bellator 223 | Saturday | UK
Middleweight, Mike Shipman (13-1)
After losing his first pro fight, Shipman has gone on to win the following 13 fights, finishing 10 of his wins in the first round. He is a threat everywhere, with very good wrestling and his timing is perfect along with the strength he possesses, frequently getting the body lock and slamming his opponent to the mat. On top of that, Shipman is very heavy on top with excellent control and a knack for grabbing the neck, winning all five of his submissions by a variety of chokes. On the feet, Shipman has considerable power in his hands, enough to end the fight in one punch or send his opponent to the canvas. He fights Costello van Steenis (11-1).
Middleweight, Costello van Steenis (11-1)
The 26-year-old is one of the brightest prospects out of the Netherlands who is riding a five-fight win streak. Steenis has a background in grappling, winning tournaments in Rotterdam. On the feet, Steenis has a good lead jab and heavy leg kicks but is more so a wrestler. His grappling is his best aspect and while he has five submissions, his ground-and-pound is just as good. His last fight was against Chris Honeycutt and it was a close fight that could of went either way. He fights Mike Shipman (13-1).
Edwards has excellent distance management, using effective footwork and speed to stay on the outside. Edwards throws single strikes at times but makes up for it with crazy explosiveness and athleticism, as well as his speed. That allows him to fire straight punches quickly and with plenty of power. He’s also the younger brother of UFC welterweight contender Leon Edwards. I do worry about his takedown defense though once he fights a good wrestler. He fights Jonathan Bosuku (7-4), who I think Edwards should put away.
Lightweight, Chris Bungard (14-4)
After a few setbacks in his career Bungard is now on a four-fight win streak for the first time since he started his pro career. He made a big statement in his last outing stopping highly touted Terry Brazier. Despite some overall good kicks in his arsenal, Bungard is mainly a grappler. While his wrestling isn’t all that good, he’s a strong guy and does well pulling guys to the mat. He’s comfortable fighting off his back as he’s a big submission threat. Bungard though is at his best on top as he’s shown over and over his ground and pound is solid and will take the back and sink in the choke. He fights Charlie Leary (15-10) who is tough but is a step down from Brazier.
Welterweight, Justin Burlinson (4-0)
Burlinson may be only 4-0 as a pro but this 22-year-old has a lot of experience as he went 15-1 as an amateur. Burlinson is well-rounded that needs a little sharpening around the edges with takedown defense and at times, his striking. He has knockout power and good striking fundamentals but is better on the ground with effective jiu-jitsu. He’s a big threat with submissions holding twelve career wins by that method. He fights Wendle Lewis (8-4), which should be a gimme fight for Justin.
Lightweight, Alfie Davis (11-3)
Davis’ ground game has improved greatly throughout his career. He is dangerous off his back with submissions or just simply sweeping his opponent. Being on his back at times, he has never been in trouble and he always works his way back to his feet very quickly. On the feet, he is a treat to watch, as everything is set up with his sublime kickboxing. His kickboxing is very dynamic, always throwing a variety of kicks and attacks with every limb of the body, always feinting and switching stances, showing excellent footwork with crazy speed. Davis doesn’t usually box enough, but his kickboxing, staying on the outside and keeping his opponent guessing, is good enough. His last two losses have been fights I thought he won. He fights Jorge Kanella (8-7), who is a step down in competition.