This week, we feature two up-and-coming fighters both inside and outside the UFC. One is an unranked fighter competing on this week’s UFC Busan card, Ciryl Gane. The focus here is on a fighter who has never been ranked, but who could be one day. The other, Raufeon Stots, is a prospect outside the UFC who has a very high ceiling and is making his debut for Bellator MMA.
Heavyweight, Ciryl Gane (5-0)
UFC on ESPN+ 23 hits Busan, South Korea this Saturday at the Sajik Arena. The card is headlined between the Korean Zombie and late replacement Frankie Edgar. Other than that fight the card is host to many rising, promising fighters. While I’m pretty high on both Said Nurmagomedov and Raoni Barcelos, I’m pretty sure Ciryl Gane is the best choice.
Gane debuted in the UFC just a few months ago. Since than, he’s already won two fights against fair competition. Even winning a Performance of the Night bonus in his last bout. When Gane signed with the UFC he was only 3-0 but was a two-time national Muay Thai champion. I believe he is also undefeated in professional Muay Thai at 12-0. Impressively, Gane won the TKO heavyweight title in his MMA debut.
Gane has all the qualities for success, something rare in most heavyweight fighters. That’s athleticism, power, size, and technique. He has a strong straight jab he uses often and it sets up the overhands that he likes to throw. Gane is unorthodox in the way he throws his strikes, like a standing hammer fist and a double punch. That said, he can be a little bit wild, but he throws from so many different angles it makes him hard to read. The Frenchman has shown that his Muay Thai is legit as he has excellent knees, mixing them in with his strikes well.
Gane will fight veteran Tanner Boser who has a total of 23 fights. This is likely the biggest challenge to date for Gane, as Boser is technical and has solid cardio. Gane though is far more athletic and the much faster fighter. Gane has the ability to outwork Boser and really bust him up.
Bantamweight, Raufeon Stots (12-1)
Not an action packed week with prospects like it was last week. With that said, the level is still very high for those competing. Stots, who is making his Bellator MMA debut, is still the lone stand out to me getting his shine on the biggest stage of his career. Stots is a former NCAA Division II national champion in wrestling at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. The only loss on his MMA record came to current UFC fighter Merab Dvalishvili. Since that defeat, Stots got back on board with four consecutive wins and is one of the best bantamweight prospects today.
Stots is a fantastic wrestler but his stand-up has come along nicely with some good Muay Thai and a developing jab. Still, the Roufusport product is primarily a wrestler. His timing on his shots is excellent and the execution is perfect. It’s going to take a good fighter to beat Stots and to neutralize his wrestling.
Stots is fighting Hawaii’s own Cheyden Leialoha, a Contender Series veteran from the 2017 season. Leialoha is a good fighter but Stots is just on another level. This being his Bellator debut there will be a lot of eyes on Stots and he should impress.