Weekly MMA Prospect Report: Bellator, Titan FC and More Return

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Jason Jackson, Bellator 242 ceremonial weigh-in
Jason Jackson Credit: Joe McDonagh/Cageside Press

It’s been a while, but there’s enough action going down this week to bring you a fresh edition of our Weekly MMA Prospect Report — the first of the pandemic era.

Titan FC 62 | Thursday | US

Welterweight, Jared Gooden (16-4)

Jared Gooden has had a few setbacks in his career but has always managed to get back up and stay active. After suffering his last loss a year ago he’s now on a two-fight winning streak. Gooden has some holes as he still needs to work on his takedown defense which Tony Graves was able to exploit. Gooden is well-rounded with good wrestling, striking, and athleticism. He’s very explosive an everything he throws is with ill intentions. He fights Trent McCown (8-4) who is coming off a loss.

Heavyweight, Odie Delaney (2-0)

Odie Delaney was a Division 1 All-America wrestler out of The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. He is only 2-0 as a pro and went 2-0 as an amateur. He does have a great team behind him to start his young career, that being American Top Team. Delaney has ran through all four of his opponents with three submission wins and a TKO. Of the footage available, Delaney of course has shown good wrestling. I was impressed with his movement in the grappling realm, moving pretty quick scrambling well for a big 6’3″ athlete. All three of his submissions were different – armbar, d’arce choke, and a kimura. Sure a lot is still to be seen but has the tools to at least watch for. He fights Prince McLean (7-8) which is obviously a set-up fight for Delaney.

ACA 107 | Friday | Russia

Heavyweight, Magomed Ismailov (15-3-1)

Usually a middleweight, Magomed Ismailov is moving up to heavyweight for this fight. With a background in combat sambo, Ismailov is a powerhouse athlete who is very fun to watch. He does have power on his feet but Ismailov has every desire to get his fights to the mat. When you tune in to watch Ismailov you would think you’re watching a professional wrestling match with the way Ismailov picks opponents up and drives them to the mat. It’s just awesome. He’s insanely strong and can elevate his opponents at any time and put them down. He has a few submissions but has better ground-and-pound. He fights veteran Aleksander Emelianenko (29-7-1) which is a tough test.

Featherweight, Kurban Taygibov (10-1)

After coming up short in his pro debut, Kurban Taygibov rebounded winning ten consecutive fights in a row now. The Russian is pretty well-rounded with a methodical but dangerous approach on the feet and a strong wrestling base with a Sambo background. On the feet, he throws a good one-two but often throws single strikes. He gets away with it because of his hand speed and explosiveness. Taygibov has excellent shot selection and precise accuracy. Although he only has four stoppages he’s still dangerous. Taygibov can wrestle just as well but conserves his energy much better on the feet. He has solid takedown defense but off his back would be his biggest weakness. He fights Ramazan Kishev (15-3) who is a decent test.

LFA 86 | Friday | US

Bantamweight, Mando Gutierrez (3-0)

Mando Gutierrez is only 3-0 as a pro but went 7-0 as an amateur winning a few titles as well. He’s impressed me with his aggressiveness and pace he’s able to put on. On the feet, he’s usually bull-rushing forward but does have some kicks in his arsenal. He’s usually striking/kicking to close the distance to get the takedown. Mando wants the fight on the mat to show his slick jiu-jitsu. Even off his back, Gutierrez is very dangerous with fluid hips helping him attack submissions and scramble. He has a smooth back take and has a knack for finishing with a choke. Mando is a big submission threat and seems to have good cardio which is surprising with the amount of pressure he puts on early. He fights Jeff Jepsen (5-2) which is a good test at his point in his young career.

Welterweight, Mark Martin (3-1)

Mark Martin doesn’t have much MMA experience but is a highly touted wrestler. Some of his accolades are Fila junior national champ, a two-time Ohio high school state champ, and a three-time D1 national qualifier from Ohio State University. There isn’t much footage out there on Martin but he’s obviously a strong wrestler. He has a good submission attack and has gone three rounds already so that looks good. He fights Tony Grant (1-1).

Bellator 242 | Friday | US

Bantamweight, Ricky Bandejas (13-3)

Ricky Bandejas is been in the cage with some stellar competition. He fought opponents like Merab Dvalishvili and Tony Gravely before signing with Bellator. He was the first to put an L on the record of James Gallagher. After suffering two straight losses to Juan Archuleta and Patchy Mix he’s now on a two-fight win streak. The book on Bandejas is that he is super aggressive, has great striking, owns good submissions, and solid takedown defense. He fights Sergio Pettis (19-5) which is an excellent fight.

Welterweight, Jason Jackson (11-4)

Jason Jackson is only coming off a single win but his last loss to Ed Ruth he arguably won as well. 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 seems to get better every time he fights. He fights former UFC fighter Jordan Mein (31-12) who has a bit of momentum on a two-fight win streak, though he’s been out a while.

Featherweight, Jay Jay Wilson (5-0)

Jay Jay Wilson has only been a pro for a little over two years and has been dominant. Wilson has breezed through opponents with four first-round finishes with the longest fight going a little into the second round. The Kiwi has displayed beautiful jiu-jitsu and showed once he gets the back he has a fantastic rear-naked choke. Still, there is a lot he needs to show but Wilson is someone to watch out for. He fights Tywan Claxton (6-1).

Featherweight, Tywan Claxton (6-1)

Tywan Claxton is primarily a wrestler with a background in wrestling as a Divison II All-American. He has excellent level changes and the speed behind his shots are perfect and is the reason his nickname is “Speedy.” On top is where he does his best work as his posture control is solid but it’s the constant and huge ground-and-pound he throws with elbows as well that makes him special. Claxton doesn’t play too much on the feet, but he does a great job faking the level changes and using his explosiveness and athleticism to get on the inside of his opponents. He fights Jay Jay Wilson (5-0).

Bantamweight, Raufeon Stots (13-1)

Raufeon 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. He fights undefeated Cass Bell (5-0) but I think Stots is better everywhere.

Welterweight: Mark Lemminger (10-1)

Mark Lemminger is a wrestling based fighter, and he’s a high level one at that, excelling on the regional scene. He is a physical powerhouse once he gets control in the clinch. He ragdolls guys, making it look like a professional wrestling match the way he slings opponents around. He doesn’t just rely on strength, on his takedowns he uses solid technique as well including inside trip takedowns, outside trip takedowns, and sweeping the legs out on his opponents – all beautifully done. On top, he has fight-ending ground and pound, staying active and always throwing while keeping full control. On the feet, Lemminger doesn’t usually stay striking, as he usually initiates the clinch, but he is getting better and better. He does hit hard, wobbling, and even dropping his opponents, but he needs a lot of refining. He fights Jake Smith (7-3) who is taking this fight on short notice.

Shooto Brasil | Sunday | Brazil

Strawweight, Valesca Machado (7-1)

Valesca Machado is a striker-first type of fighter. She’s more of a brawler, as she plants her feet and throws wide looping right and left hooks. Not just a brawler though — she is technical and shows that the more as she gets loose in the fight. Machado employs her kicks frequently. She actively attacks the lead leg of her opponent, going to the inside and outside mixing it up.  She’s only 25-years-old so she still has a lot of room for growth. She fights Karen Thalita (2-1) who is coming off a loss.

Check out our Prospect of the Month feature on her here.

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