Top 25 Pro MMA Prospects with Five Fights or Less

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Aviv Gozali
Aviv Gozali vs. Zaka Fatullazade Credit: Bellator MMA

Every UFC fighter, Bellator fighter, UFC champion, Bellator champion, hall of famer, and legend of the sport starts their career the same. This time out, we put the focus on young up-and-coming prospects who are still early in their career and for the better part, untested. Of a list of hundred-something prospects, we’ve narrowed it down to twenty-five pro fighters who could very well be the the sport. Note: This list is not ranked.

Hugo Cunha
Pro record: 5-0
Amateur record: 1-0
Weight class: Heavyweight
Age: 26
Fighting out of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

At only 5-0, Hugo Cunha is already considered as one of the best heavyweight prospects today. Outside of MMA, Cunha is a Brazilian National Team wrestler and a BJJ black belt. You will notice his level of competition has been poor as he’s fought three opponents with a 0-0 record. Cunha has still looked dominant thus far in his career and that’s with a 100% finish rate.

Lisa Verzosa
Pro record: 5-0
Amateur record: 9-1
Weight class: Bantamweight
Age: 24
Fighting out of Vancouver, Washington, USA

I personally believe every female fighter should have to go through Invicta before signing with the UFC since they have the best talent outside that promotion. Verzosa has done just that with 4 of her 5 fights in the Invicta cage, all against some good fighters. Verzosa has the toughness, heart, and tenacity and you can’t teach that is key for a fighter. Do yourself a favor and see how good she in her latest fight on Invicta FC 38 against Kerri Kenneson exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.

“I usually like to keep my fights on the feet but I have a wrestling background and a purple belt in jiu-jitsu. I want my fights to be exciting and memorable for fans. Right now I’m aiming for the Invicta FC title at 135lbs and hoping to make it into the UFC soon.” -Lisa Verzosa

Blake Donnelly
Pro record: 4-0
Amateur record: 2-3
Weight class: Lightweight
Age: 24
Fighting out of Rosedale, New South Wales, Australia

Fundamentals are important in a fighter and Blake Donnelly displays just that. The Aussie has a good jab, uses a lot of feints, has good cardio, and has already developed good fight IQ. All those qualities are great for such a young fighter to have. He’s already the Australian FC Vacant Lightweight Championship.

“I’m always in my opponents face, what people pay to watch. I find my range, set a pace, and I go to work. The same will go when a fight eventually goes to the ground. I still haven’t given this dream a proper crack in my eyes. There will be a time very soon where I adjust a few things in my life, fight actively and level up even more. I’m only 4-0 but I wasn’t supposed to win my last 3 fights, and the way that I’m beating all of these guys separates me from the rest.” -Blake Donnelly

Jake Hadley
Pro record: 5-0
Amateur record: 7-2
Weight class: Flyweight
Age: 23
Fighting out of Birmingham, England

Jake Hadley is only 5-0 as a pro but in his amateur career, he was successful and was a 4x amateur British flyweight champion. When Hadley was only 3-0 as a pro he fought a top prospect in Nkazimulo Zulu. Hadley beat him for the EFC Worldwide Flyweight Championship. In his latest fight, he beat a very good Blaine O’Driscoll in his Bellator debut.

“What I bring to the table is a mixed bag of MMA. I’m good everywhere and by becoming EFC flyweight world champ 4 fights into my pro career and beating a former UFC signed fighter is unheard of. I’ve beaten two world champ within 5 pro fights which is something that should already have me inside the UFC but 100% I will be going to the UFC this year.” -Jake Hadley

Casey O’Neill 
Pro record: 3-0
Amateur record: 5-2
Weight class: Strawweight
Age: 22
Fighting out of Queensland, Australia

When it comes to young up-and-comers, O’Neill is one of the best. From Scottland, O’Neill has fought her entire pro and amateur career in Australia. In her latest fight, she won the Eternal MMA Strawweight Championship. O’Neill also fights out of an excellent camp in Tiger Muay Thai.

“I live for MMA, I just want to be the best, so my future looks like whatever it takes to get there. Step by step I’m coming.” -Casey O’Neill

Dalton Rosta
Pro record: 2-0
Amateur record: 7-0
Weight class: Light-heavyweight
Age: 24
Fighting out of New Castle, Pennsylvania, US

Rosta is one of the many fighters Bellator has coming up. He’s an NCAA wrestler, took part in jiu-jitsu and boxing from a young age, and played one year of college football for Youngstown State as a linebacker. He’s 2-0 in Bellator and as a pro and an amateur he has finished all of his fights.

“I’m the future of the Light Heavyweight and Middleweight divisions, in all promotions. Anyone who doubts that will be proved wrong very quickly.” -Dalton Rosta

Ian Garry
Pro record: 3-0
Amateur record: 6-1
Weight class: Welterweight
Age: 21
Fighting out of Dublin, Ireland

Among all the top prospects from the UK/Ireland, Ian Garry stand out as the future. He fights for the Cage Warriors promotion which is the best organization out of the UK/Ireland. In his young career, Garry has already proven to be extremely well rounded, fought through adversity, and has already improved greatly.

“There’s nothing special about me. I’m not the biggest, I’m not the strongest and I’m sure there are people with better attributes than me. I’m sure there has been people that’s had a harder upbringing than me. Other people are like “fighting is the only thing I have and without that, I have nothing” blah blah blah. That’s not the case for me. I do this because I love it. I love the competition, I love testing myself and my skills, I love competing, and I love going in there with somebody and putting them to the test. I work harder than anyone. I work my ass off to prove people wrong or right. I may not be the biggest nor the strongest but I’m one of the most efficient.” -Ian Garry

Aviv Gozali 
Pro record: 4-0
Amateur record: 0-0
Weight class: Lightweight
Age: 18
Fighting out of Bat Yam, Israel

Son of longtime fighter Haim Gozali, who also competed in Bellator, Aviv Gozali has looked fantastic in his short career despite being so young. All his wins have come by submission in the first round. Gozali is an aggressive grappler who excels in that department. He jumped right in the pool as a pro and under the big lights having all of his fights under the Bellator banner.

“I’m bringing to the table of the MMA world the new generation of MMA. I’m the youngest fighter in a major organization so basically I’m showing the world that age is just a number and I’m gonna be the youngest champ in Bellator history.” -Aviv Gozali

Hailey Cowan 
Pro record: 4-1
Amateur record: 3-0
Weight class: Flyweight
Age: 27
Fighting out of Waco, Texas, US

Hailey 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 staple of top regional promotion LFA who always does a great job molding fighters.

“This sport literally re-birthed my athletic career. After finishing my college athletic career with an injury, I came into MMA with fire on my side. I want to grow my game so much that when WMMA is in the conversation, my name has to be mentioned. I want my legacy to be that I dreamed big, and I made it happen… I think that alone will inspire little girls to dream big and never look back. This sport is life-changing. I’m proof of that.” -Hailey Cowan

Santos Curatolo
Pro record: 4-0
Amateur record: 2-0
Weight class: Flyweight
Age: 24
Fighting out of Staten Island, New York, US

Santos Curatolo’s competition hasn’t been too good and his strength of schedule needs work. But that said Curatolo has still looked stellar thus far and has treated his lack of competition the way he should’ve. Curatolo is an excellent wrestler rag-dolling guys around. He’s a pure athlete who I think can jump into the UFC and do well.

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