MMA Prospect Watch: The Most Impressive Fighters from September

A.J. McKee and Georgi Karakhanyan Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

Bantamweight, Shamil Shakhbulatov (13-3)

Shakhbulatov knocked out a very good fighter in Rasul Mirzaev. Shakhbulatov fought on the outside landing some excellent kicks to the body. He used good head movement and some nice footwork. In the first he landed a left hand off the clinch face-planting Rasul. This was the first time Rasu has been knocked out.
Grade: B-

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Middleweight, Magomed Ismailov (15-3)

Ismailov is well known for his emphatic takedowns, being a good wrestler. This fight though never hit the mat once. It was impressive how good Ismailov looked on the feet for the entire fifteen minutes of the fight. Sitting in the pocket, Ismailov would land constant combinations, up to three strikes at a time. What was even more impressive is he outgunned Artem Frolov who is a solid prospect as well.
Grade: B+

Bantamweight, Adam Wilson (4-0)

Wilson had a solid performance with the only problem being his takedown defense. Wilson was taken down twice easily but did eventually win scrambles and get on top. The Brit showcased some strong grappling being dominant once on top. Wilson constantly looked for the finish almost getting the tap with an anaconda choke but the bell saved his foe. He easily transitioned into dominant positions. Wilson landed some key ground and pound and that’s how he finished the fight in round two.
Grade: C+

Flyweight, Luke Shanks (6-1)

Shanks stopped a fighter in Pietro Menga who was a top prospect in 2016. Menga despite his record is still a good prospect and he did take round two. What set them apart was the aggressiveness of Shanks. Shanks had some good top control in round one that secured the round for him. Round two Menga did gain momentum winning the scrambles and edging the round. But when the bell hit for round three, Shanks came out firing and dropped Menga with a right hook. Controlling the back and one of the wrists of Menga, Shanks began unloading with ground and pound until the ref stepped in.
Grade: C

Heavyweight, Tom Aspinall (7-2)

A 26-year-old heavyweight with a good record and a 100% finish rate: look out! Aspinall wasted no time getting busy landing thudding leg kicks and some quick combos to the body and the head. He landed a right over the top putting his opponent down. Quickly after some extra strikes, the ref stepped in. Aspinall finished the fight in only 0:56 seconds.
Grade: A-

Featherweight, TJ Laramie (10-3)

Paris Stanford is a decent fighter who recently beat a good prospect in Jake Heffernan. Although nothing about this performance from Laramie was too exciting he was very dominant. Laramie used his wrestling getting a big nine takedowns throughout three rounds. He didn’t come close to finishing the fight but did enough and his top control had things locked down.
Grade: C

Featherweight, AJ McKee (15-0)

Not much to talk about in this performance because it only took McKee eight seconds to get it done. McKee opened up throwing the right hand and then threw it again this time following up with a left hook landing on the jaw. That put his opponent down and the extra shots put the fight away. His opponent was Georgi Karakhanyan who is a top Bellator featherweight and former WSOF champion.
Grade: A+

Light-heavyweight, Simon Biyong (6-1)

Biyong burst onto the EFC scene and took out South Africa’s own Quinton Roussow who was 4-0. Biyong certainly impressed with his defense. Roussow was consistently trying to get the fight down and Biyong had nearly perfect takedown defense. The pressure of Roussow would play against him being the one on his back mainly the entire time. Biyong staying light on top for a big guy he also landed some ground and pound. That includes some nasty elbows Biyong landed in round two knocking Roussow out cold.
Grade: B

Bantamweight, Josh Hill (18-3)

Hill is more of a veteran with a lot of experience over good competition. His opponent this time was Gilberto Aguilar. Though he wasn’t as good as Hill’s usual opponent, Hill did what was needed and he ran through Aguilar. Hill made easy work of this fight landing some good leg kicks early on. Hill slipped to the back against the cage getting the takedown and sinking in the RNC.
Grade: A

Welterweight, Adrian Zeitner (7-1)

Zeitner moved his win streak to six and captured the Respect FC welterweight title in September. Early on the fight, Zeitner changed levels low and hit a single leg takedown. Staying technical but calm on the mat, Zeitner was in his realm. As he went to move into mount his opponent rolled Zeitner to his back, but he locked in a nicely executed triangle.
Grade: C+