While UFC 248 is no doubt the center of attention this weekend, there is plenty of other MMA action going down around the globe.
Which means, as always, there’s a good batch of MMA prospects to check out. So let’s get on with the show, starting with Kazakhstan, where the UFC will debut later this year.
ACA 104 | Friday | Kazakhstan
Light-heavyweight, Muslim Magomedov (6-0)
Muslim Magomedov had a successful amateur career winning the WMMAA 2018 European Championship. In only his fifth pro bout, he dominated former UFC fighter Chris Camozzi. Despite not offering much on the feet, Magomed is an excellent wrestler. His timing on his shots is fine and the way he shoots so low makes his execution near-perfect. The work he does on top is his best aspect. He has good top position and his ground and pound is strong, active, and he lands hard.
OFS 14 | Friday | Russia
Featherweight: Aliyar Sarkerov (36-3)
Aliyar Sarkerov is good everywhere. On the feet, he is very flashy with kicks and body attacks. His takedown ability is perfect, he sets up his entrances well, and he can use a variety of takedowns including trips, single legs, hip throws, and double legs. In general, his takedown ability is where it needs to be. On the mat is where he is spectacular. He is a great danger when it comes to grabbing the neck and putting the fight away. He fights Lucas Oliveira (20-6).
Invicta FC | Friday | US
Bantamweight: Lisa Verzosa (5-0)
Lisa Spangler Verzosa has toughness, heart, and tenacity and you can’t teach that to a fighter. She is exceptionally smart in the clinch attacking the body-head. She has strong wrestling she will use at times. Verzosa is just a really gritty fighter. She fights Julija Stoliarenko (8-3-1) who is 4-0 since her TUF run. This is for the Invicta FC bantamweight title (vacant).
LFA 83 | Friday | US
Welterweight: Matt Dixon (8-0)
Matt Dixon is a good boxer who displays a solid jab and a check left hook. He does a good job going to the body-head with his hands ripping with good placement. His striking wouldn’t be as good without his excellent kickboxing and vice-versa. On the feet, his kickboxing is arguably his best aspect. The wrestling from Dixon is his best attribute. Dixon has an excellent double leg takedown that he times so well. He will wait till his opponent comes in before he changes levels using their momentum against them to get the easy dump takedown. For more on Dixon check out my prospect of the month piece I did on him in February. He fights Justin Patterson (11-5).
Flyweight: Hailey Cowan (4-1)
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 big and strong 125er who is well-rounded, holding a rear-naked choke and a highlight-reel head kick knockout. She fights Brittney Cloudy (2-1).
Eternal MMA 52 | Saturday | Australia
Flyweight: Chelsea Hackett (2-0-1)
Chelsea Hackett comes from a Muay Thai background as she’s a two-time world Muay Thai champion. In her MMA career, the girls so far have tried mainly to put her on her back. However Hackett has shown good takedown defense and is the one getting takedowns herself. She is much better on the feet, notably in the clinch, with good kickboxing, and combos from the outside. She fights Rhiannon Thompson (5-3).
Lightweight: Josh Togo (8-3)
A few years ago, Josh Togo was on a three-fight skid. Now he’s won his last four fights (also a NC) and is the current Eternal MMA lightweight champ. Togo doesn’t have a lot of power but has the technical ability on the outside to work opponents. He will pick his foes apart with lead leg kicks, lead uppercuts, and jabs mixing it up. He fights former UFC fighter Ben Wall (10-7-1).
Thunderstrike Fight League 20 | Saturday | Poland
Middleweight: Cezary Kesik (11-0)
Cezary Kesik is very underrated and is one of the best, if not the best, Polish prospects out there. Kesik is exciting, bringing an aggressive kickboxing style with a lot of power in his hands with seven finishes by way of KO/TKO. If needed, Kesik will take the fight down where he is really talented with position control and transitions. He fights Georgi Lobzhanidze (10-4) who is a good test of Kesik’s abilities.
Cage Warriors 112 | Saturday | UK
Bantamweight: Jack Cartwright (7-0)
Jack Cartwright had a huge 2019 getting four wins, signing with Cage Warriors, and winning the Cage Warriors title. Cartwright has been wrestling since the age of five and has a background as a former ABA boxer. Cartwright just recently began showing his striking; with his power and timing he’s just as good as he is as a grappler. The Brit is a good wrestler and more of an exceptional grappler. He’s got a very dangerous guillotine and d’arce he’s finished with a few times. He fights Manuel Bilić (15-6).
Welterweight: Madars Fleminas (7-0)
Madars Fleminas on the feet is really good, especially in the clinch with his knees. Still, you might expect him to be better since he has a long-range at 6’2″ — but he is getting better. 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 Adam Proctor (11-1).
Welterweight: Adam Proctor (11-1)
Adam Proctor is still an unknown prospect and part of that is because he still hasn’t had that one big statement win. He’s beat good fighters but I think his lack of killer instinct has canceled that out a bit. Proctor is well-rounded being able to strike and wrestle. He’s a better wrestler who times takedowns well. He could be more aggressive on top though. Proctor has good distance management with a laser right hands and good kicks. He has the skills to go a long way but needs some sharpening around the edges. He fights Madars Fleminas (7-0).
Lightweight: Paul Hughes (4-0)
Paul Hughes has looked stellar in his pro career and although he only has four fights he has the skills of a established fighter. Hughes has two TKO’s and two submissions as he’s very well-rounded. On the feet, Hughes has good boxing. The accuracy and shot selection is there and so is some big power. He’s an even better wrestler and has exceptional grappling. Hughes looks like the real deal. He fights Youri Panada (4-1).
GMC 24 | Saturday | Germany
Featherweight: Saba Bolaghi (10-1-1)
Saba Bolaghi is a decorated wrestler listing achievements such as the youth German Freestyle Wrestling Championship, Junior World Championships, and the Bronze medal at the Adults European Championships. He is very physically strong and executes his level-changes well. When he gets the fight to the mat, he is dangerous with his chokes having won four that way. His striking isn’t much but he makes up with for it with speed and once he is in the distance, the takedowns come naturally. He fights Felipe Maia (9-3).
Summit FC 34 | Saturday | US
Welterweight: Jaleel Willis (11-2)
Jaleel Willis is quite athletic and a top-notch wrestler. On top, he has the control, the transitions, and the ground-and-pound to excel. Willis is everything you want in a fighter, especially in terms of wrestling. On the feet, he does hold a lot of power in his hands. Willis still has some things to learn but is a bright prospect. He fights James Horne (4-3)