While it’s not the busiest weekend in MMA, there are still a good number of prospects to keep an eye on this weekend.
One Championship | Friday | Philippines
Welterweight: James Nakashima (11-0)
James doesn’t have the most exciting style nor is he dominant in any position, he is very well skilled everywhere though. James is starting to become more of an aggressive fighter coming forward and creating more action, as he is still more of a counter striker for the most part. Wrestling-wise, James is good but his position grappling is where I think he is best. He does get better as the fight progresses. Nakashima trains with The MMA Lab, which has really developed into an excellent camp and almost every fighter coming out of that camp is a well-conditioned athlete. He fights the well-known Yushin Okami (35-13).
Featherweight: Xie Bin (7-1)
Bin’s only loss came in his first fight, and he has rebounded, winning his last seven fights becoming a solid prospect out of China. He doesn’t have much on the feet but has had glimpses of his nice clinch work and has really good footwork. Bin has solid wrestling and once on the mat, he’s where he is so good at. Bin has exceptional positional grappling and is a good submission threat especially with the D’Arce choke. He fights Edward Kelly (12-6), who is a good test.
Strike FC 3 | Friday | Turkey
Lightweight: Marif Piraev (28-2)
First of all, his record won’t go unnoticed with 28 wins and only two losses – and at only 26-years old. Those losses were to the undefeated KSW lightweight champ Mateusz Gamrot and top prospect Tofik Musaev. Piraev spends a lot of his fight time on the feet, where you can see him looking for a big shot while throwing many step-in knees, flying knees, and head kicks — which he disguises well with his movement. He moves in and out deftly, exploding with punches and then back out quickly. His record boasts 10 submissions, and all that is set up by his well-executed wrestling. Piraev could tighten up his takedown defense which would be his one flaw. He fights Nursultan Ruziboev (21-7), who is on a two-fight skid.
LFA 73 | Friday | Texas
Featherweight: Austin Lingo (6-0)
Lingo is an exciting fighter who has four of his six wins coming by a finish. Lingo has big power in both his hands and has had a knack for putting the lights out early with three finishes under a minute. Lingo does need to improve his takedown defense but has a good guillotine and is decent off his back. I’m not fully sold on him but he’s only 25-years-old. He fights Solo Hately (6-1) who is heavy-handed as well so this should be a scrap.
Flyweight: Hailey Cowan (3-1)
Cowan had an extensive background in gymnastics, being very accomplished at Baylor University. She won a few tumbling national titles and is a two-time All-American. After coming up short in her pro MMA debut, she then went on to win her next three fights, finishing all three and looking impressive. She’s a big and strong 125er who is well-rounded, holding a rear-naked choke and a highlight-reel head kick knockout. She’s still young in her career and I like her future. She fights Jessica Middleton (5-5), who has more experience so it’s a good test for Cowan.