A busy week prospect-wise has rising fighters to watch competing in Brace CF, Bellator and LFA, among other organizations.
The MMA world has a busy week this week, with Brave CF, ONE Championship, the UFC, and Bellator all in action. Not to mention the return of LFA, with a newly secured broadcast deal with UFC Fight Pass. That means it’s a busy time in prospect land, with plenty of names to keep an eye on.
Brave CF 29 | Wednesday | Bahrain
Lightweight, Guram Kutateladze (10-2)
The Swedish native Kutateladze is on a seven-fight win streak after losing two consecutive fights, one to former UFC fighter Oliver Enkamp. On the feet Kutateladze has a large variety of strikes and kicks mixing both together very well. He shows good athleticism, footwork and excellent head movement to complement his stand up. He’s even better on the mat with ground and pound and solid jiu-jitsu and also has solid cardio on top of everything. Guram is coming off an 11-month layoff against former UFC fighter Felipe Silva (9-2).
Light heavyweight, Azamat Murzakanov (7-0)
Russia’s Murzakanov has a background in judo, winning a handful of championships. He has solid wrestling, as he’s able to throw you to the mat or slam you down. His ground and pound is very good but his striking is excellent. He’s aggressive, always the one attacking looking for the knockout. He does have the one-punch power but is an excellent counter striker as well. Azamat is coming off a 2 1/2 year layoff due to his suspension from USADA resulting in him never fighting in the UFC. He fights former UFC fighter Guto Inocente (7-2) who hasn’t fought in four years.
Featherweight, Ilia Topuria (7-0)
A product out of Spain, Topuria is no doubt someone to watch. Topuria is a monster grappler and submission ace with all wins coming by submission. To get it to the mat he has solid wrestling, timing his shots perfectly. Glue-like on the mat he is great at sticking to the back and transitioning smoothly. Topuria is a tactical grappler with improving striking. He has good crisp hands but is still a bit green. Still a great prospect. He fights Steven Goncalves (6-2).
Bantamweight, Rany Saadeh (9-1)
At times Rany Saddeh does get hit a lot, mainly when he is willing to brawl. But when he is using his footwork he is excellent at picking his shots, moving side to side and in and out. Rany has shown power in his hands but volume is what he does best, including kicks and an effective jab. His grappling is very good, improving every fight. Rany has good control and is always working for better positions. He has good ground and pound as well and is very smart positionally, always putting his head in the right spot. He fights Dean Garnett (9-2-1) who is a talented prospect as well.
Magomedov has a background in freestyle wrestling and was the Russian National Jiu-Jitsu champion in 2017. The Russian only has six fights, but three finishes, getting it done on the mat with submissions and ground and pound. He’s a smart fighter and could be someone to watch for in the future. He fights Erick da Silva (22-6).
Bellator 234 | Thursday | Israel
Outlaw is always pressing forward and once he gets his hands together, he is most likely getting the fight down. He is a powerful athlete and he also has very high grappling IQ, as he knows when to level-change to complete the takedown. Once on the mat, he excels as he is a veteran of regional jiu-jitsu contests. Outlaw is the former Ring of Combat and Titan FC champion and has fought stiff competition. He fights veteran Roger Huerta (24-11) at Bellator 234.
Welterweight, Austin Vanderford (8-0)
Vanderford is a really strong wrestler as he was a national amateur wrestling champion. He has excellent chain wrestling and once on top, he is very dominant. He doesn’t have much on the feet but he is growing and he does hold a lot of power in his hands. Vanderford is solid once he gets on top with heavy top control and heavy ground and pound. He fights Grachik Bozinyan (10-3). Be sure to check out our interview with him ahead of Bellator 234.
Lightweight, Aviv Gozali (3-0)
The youngster Aviv Gozali fights out of Bat Yam, Israel and is only 18-years-old. The kid has looked fantastic in his short career though. All wins have come by submission in the first round. Gozali is an aggressive grappler who excels in the grappling department. His ability to chain submission attempts is fantastic. The wrestling looks good though he hasn’t shown it as much. He fights Zaka Fatullazade (14-8) who is a good test.
LFA 78 | Friday | US
Bantamweight, Adrian Yanez (9-3)
Yanez is a good young talent who has only lost to good fighters and is still only 25. His biggest weakness is his takedown defense. It’s not poor, it just takes him time to stuff shots. He only has two submissions but has some credible BJJ to give guys issues. On the feet is where he wants to be where mainly; all of his finishes have come by. Yanez has slick boxing that includes head movement, quick hands, going body-head, and excellent placement. I really like the future of this kid. He fights Kyle Estrada (10-2).
Flyweight, Hailey Cowan (4-1)
Cowan has an extensive background in gymnastics, and was 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 four fights looking impressive in the process. She’s a big and strong 125er who is well-rounded, holding a rear-naked choke and a highlight-reel head kick knockout. She fights Lisa Mauldin (3-1).
Bantamweight, Jose Johnson (10-5)
For someone that has half as many losses as he has wins, Johnson has looked stellar as of late. He is now on a 4-fight win streak with all finishes in the first round. He will struggle with takedown defense but is good off his back with solid jiu-jitsu. On the feet is where he excels and is a very dangerous fighter. Johnson is good at range with long strikes and an effective teep kick. He’s lethal in the clinch with excellent muay thai bringing in deadly elbows and knees. Such an athletic guy and only 24, you have to like where he is heading. He fights Rafael Costa (11-2).
LXF 4 | Friday | US
Featherweight, Melsik Baghdasaryan (4-1)
Baghdasaryan doesn’t have a lot of MMA experience and his competition has been horrible but the potential is there. Baghdasaryan does have a lot of experience in other combat sports, mainly boxing, and kickboxing. He’s competed in the K-1 Grand Prix, is a former WLF World Kick Boxing Champion, and a 3-0 pro boxer. Losing his pro debut he has won his next four. He has got the job done early with a 7, 14, and 9-second finish. Of course, there is still so much we need to see of him though. He fights Fard Muhammad (6-14) who has lost his last seven fights.
Total Warrior Combat | Friday | US
Welterweight, Adrian Hadribeaj (9-1)
Hadribeaj fights at a Karate stance which helps keep distance, and uses an array of striking attacks as he is a National Karate Champion. He is fast with his hands and is reminiscent of Sage Northcutt with his stand-up. He can drop you with anything and while his leg kicks are more dangerous, he usually finishes with his hands. Going five rounds five times says a lot and is a big plus. Hadribeaj has a win against current UFC fighter Kyle Nelson. He fights Sinatra Pool (2-4).
RCC Intro 6 | Saturday | Russia
Lightweight, Pavel Gordeev (14-1)
Gordeev has shown he is a promising prospect, beating four undefeated fighters, former UFC fighter Mickael Lebout and Shane Campbell, and other solid competition. Gordeev is mainly a striker who loves to use the jab often. The Russian has good long straight punches and his speed can be a real factor. Gordeev has also shown the ability to land at a high rate as well. His wrestling is decent enough to be effective with good scrambles and an active ground game. He fights veteran Luiz Firmino (20-10).
CFFC 79 | Saturday | US
Lightweight, Pat Sabatini (11-2)
Sabatini has only two losses in his career to top prospects in Jose Mariscal and Robert Watley. Sabatini does have a background in grappling, competing in several competitions, and has a background in combat sambo. Sabatini is clearly dangerous on the mat with nine finishes all coming by submission. He is very improved with solid trip takedowns, good ground-and-pound, improved stand up and excellent cardio. He fights Mauro Chaulet (14-6).
*Also, watch for flyweight prospect Santos Curatolo who is 3-0. He looks solid of what I’ve seen but footage lacks.
La Batalla del Puente 6 | Saturday | Argentina
Bantamweight, Mauro Mastromarini (9-0)
One of the better prospects out of Argentina, Mastromarini still needs some work. He can stand a bit flat-footed and his TDD needs to be better. He makes up for that with huge explosive ability. Mastromarini usually throws one strike at a time, and he’s a good counter striker. He’s even better when he explodes forward with strikes and some sniper head kicks at the end of combos. He fights Ariel Ibarra (8-2-1).