Weekly MMA Prospect Report: Bellator’s Kids Are Alright

Ed Ruth Bellator MMA
Credit: Bellator MMA

This week’s MMA Prospect Report puts the focus on back-to-back Bellator cards, with a couple of key names in action.

Ed Ruth. Steve Mowry. Mandel Nallo. Patrick Mix. These kids are alright. Well, maybe it’s a stretch to call some of them “kids.” Still, Bellator has plenty of prospects in action between Bellator 231 and Bellator 232 this weekend. With ONE Championship’s Dawn of Valor this Friday, a CES show, and more, there are lots of fresh names to look over.

And so once again, here’s our Weekly MMA Prospect Report.

One Championship | Friday | Indonesia

Bantamweight, Muin Gafurov (16-2)

Gafurov, born out of  Tajikistan, is a solid prospect at only 24-years-old. Gafurov is a 2014 Pankration and Grappling Champion and a 2013-2017 Combat Sambo World Champion. He’s well-rounded, and on the feet he has a flashy style, but he is quick and mainly relies on his athleticism. He’s better with his wrestling and on top, he has good jiu-jitsu. Most impressively, he has a 100% finish rate. He fights former UFC standout John Lineker (31-9). Gafurov is a huge underdog in this fight.

Welterweight, Tony Caruso (7-0)

We’re not too sold on Caruso but he has the well-roundedness to improve to a better fighter. He has a boxing background as a pro who is currently 4-1-1 and some experience in BJJ. Despite glimpses of his striking, Caruso has really got it done with his wrestling in his MMA career. He executes single-leg takedowns very well and on top he is heavy. He fights Pieter Buist (15-4) who does have a problem with his TDD.

CES 59 | Friday | Rhode Island

Light-heavyweight, William Knight (5-0)

Knight lacks technique but is super athletic and has a lot of power. He also lacks takedown defense, but is that guy who lands on top and becomes a nightmare with his ground and pound. He won his last fight on the Contender Series and earned a development deal so all eyes are on him. He did have a lot of issues, so it will be interesting to see how much he has improved. He fights Marvin Skipper (4-2) who he should beat.

Bellator 231 | Friday | Connecticut

Light Heavyweight, Karl Albrektsson (9-2)

Karl Albrektsson has only two losses in his career, both to stellar prospects Valentin Moldavsky and Jiri Prochazka. He has also beaten good competition such as former UFC fighter Josh Stansbury and top Bellator contender Vadim Nemkov. “King” has a background in BJJ and in Sanshou, in which he was the 2014 European champion. He isn’t too good on the feet, often fighting too stiff. He excels on the mat though, looking better in each fight. He fights the former champ Phil Davis (20-5) who is a big favorite to win this fight.

Welterweight, Jason Jackson (10-3)

Jackson’s three losses are to former UFC fighter Hayder Hassan and current UFC fighters Kyle Stewart and Colby Covington. He has a win over current UFC fighter Dhiego Lima. Jackson is a good striker who is technical with an excellent jab and a crushing right hand. This product out of the former Blackzilians gym is a very good wrestler as well being very well-rounded. He’s super athletic and at only 28, he’s got a high ceiling. He fights Ed Ruth (7-1).

Welterweight, Ed Ruth (7-1)

Ruth is a very accomplished wrestler. His accolades include 2012, 2013, 2014 NCAA D1 Wrestling Champion, a 4x All-American, and a 4x Big Ten Champion. With his wrestling background and training with top camp Jackson-Wink MMA, Ruth has really developed into a promising prospect. He has dominated in all of his wins as well, getting the easy takedown and the mount along with controlling the back position, showing off his BJJ skills. Ruth has also shown finishing ability with heavy ground n’ pound, and the wrestler has even scored a knockout by a punch and by a knee while he has been improving on the feet. He fights Jason Jackson (10-3).

Heavyweight, Steve Mowry (6-0)

Standing a 6’9″, Mowry has all the tools to be a dangerous guy at Heavyweight. Training out of Hard Knocks 365 the 27-year-old has plenty of time to develop into a more complete fighter. Though he’s only 6-0 as a pro, Mowry went 7-0 as an amateur with six wins by submission. He has some things to work on including his striking, which is improving, but overall he does a good job and stays long. Still, he is more effective in the clinch with knees. He has solid wrestling, being at his best once on the mat. And once there he has good jiu-jitsu for a big guy. He fights Gokhan Saricam (4-0) who lacks footage.

Lightweight, Mandel Nallo (7-0)

On the mat, Mandel Nallo is very slick with his grappling, allowing him to snatch up chokes easily as all four of his submission wins have come that way. Nallo’s standup isn’t bad, his striking isn’t great but his kicks are sound, he throws very hard and dangerously up through the middle or above the shoulder. It would be nice to see more of him, as he’s been very inactive. He fights Killys Mota (11-1) who is a good test.

Cage Warriors 109 | Saturday | UK

Lightweight, Jai Herbert (9-1)

Herbert has decent wrestling and good jiu-jitsu to fall back on but he is much more talented on the feet. He does a great job fighting long with an excellent tool set of kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. Herbert is dangerous in all aspects on the feet but his right hand is his money shot. Herbert really needs to work on his takedown defense as that is his biggest weakness. He fights former UFC fighter Chris Carrizosa (11-3) who has won his last five.

Welterweight, Madars Fleminas (6-0)

Only 6-0 as a pro, Fleminas went 9-1 as an amateur and won three titles. Fleminas on the feet is really good in the clinch with his knees. Still, you might expect him to be better since he has a long-range at 6’2″. He’s superb on the mat in top position with active ground and pound. Fleminas has solid cardio as well, and shows improvement in each fight. He could have a bright future if he learns how to put it all together. He fights George Hardwick (4-0) who is a solid litmus test.

Bellator 232 | Saturday | Connecticut

Lightweight, Robin van Roosmalen (2-0)

Robin van Roosmalen is a Dutch kickboxer who is a former Glory featherweight and lightweight champion. Roosmalen has a kickboxing record of 51-18. So far in his short MMA career, his takedown defense has been tested. He’s been taken down twice but in his second fight, it improved a lot. RVR is obviously dangerous on the feet showing one-punch knockout power, heavy kicks, and excellent shot selection. He fights Cris Lencioni (5-2) who is a good test at this point.

Bantamweight, Patrick Mix (11-0)

Undefeated as a pro, Mix also went 11-0 as an amateur. Mix is all about pressure and he is always moving forward, walking his opponent down. Mix has seven submissions with five rear-naked chokes showing he is more comfortable on the mat, but now, training out of Jackson-Wink MMA, he’s been improving every step of the way. He fights Isaiah Chapman (9-3).