After a slow week last week, as the bigger promotions cleared out to make way for UFC 254, MMA action is back in full swing. ONE Championship, Bellator, and LFA are among those in action. And there are a number of undefeated fighters set to compete. Here’s a look.
Best of Best Championship 1 | Thursday | Friday
Middleweight, Imam-Shapi Mukhtarov (7-0)
Mukhtarov is an exciting prospect out of Russia with an undefeated record. He’s got a diverse kickboxing style throwing a lot of spinning attacks. He’s always throwing something different and looks very tricky. Mukhtarov has good judo as well and is just as good on the mat with his jiu-jitsu. He fights Arman Saparov (4-4).
CFFC 86 | Thursday | US
Bantamweight, James Gonzalez (6-3)
Gonzalez may not have a good looking record but his three losses are to Mike Trizano twice and Bill Algeo. Gonzalez is a product out of Serra Jiu-Jitsu. He is a jiu-jitsu black belt and on the mat is where he wants to be. Gonzalez has an aggressive submission base attacking in every position and attacking every limb. He’s excellent at transitioning submission to submission. On his back or on top he’s usually the offensive fighter. He fights Levi Mowles (13-4).
Bantamweight, Levi Mowles (13-4)
Mowles is a black belt in jiu-jitsu with diverse skills who holds a very rare twister submission. His wrestling is good, but the work he does on that mat is where he is best. His guard passes, all his transitions, and his movement are all top-notch and even his ground and pound is good. On the feet, at times he is flat-footed but when he lets his hands go he is a good striker who always throws more than one strike and is getting better and better. He fights James Gonzalez (6-3).
Bellator 250 | Thursday | US
Middleweight, Johnny Eblen (6-0)
Eblen has a background as a Division I wrestler for the University of Missouri and he’s absolutely dominated with takedowns in MMA thus far. On the feet, Eblen bounces in and out throwing the outside leg kick well. Eblen times his shots very well grabbing the single leg and pressing his opponent against the cage then dropping levels executing the double leg. Eblen’s hands are improving, but does more crashing forward to close the distance to work in takedowns. He fights Taylor Johnson (6-1) who is an excellent prospect in his own right.
Middleweight, Dalton Rosta (3-0)
Dalton Rosta is 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 3-0 in Bellator and as a pro and an amateur he has finished all of his fights. Rosta is still raw but is an excellent wrestler and has a good top position. He just needs to work on his striking and cardio. He fights Ty Gwerder (5-1) who is his biggest test to date.
ONE Championship | Friday | Singapore
Middleweight/Light heavyweight, Aung La N Sang (26-10)
It’s tough to call Aung La N Sang a prospect, but he has had a lot of setbacks in his career. However, he has now hit his stride. He’s on a current seven-fight win streak and is the current ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder. N Sang is a warrior who will go out on his shield every time. He will continue to walk forward eating shots to give some of his own. He has a controlled chaos style throwing with the wind but mixes up his attacks very well. N Sang isn’t the prettiest style fighter but his toughness is second to none. He fights Reinier de Ridder (12-0).
Middleweight, Reinier de Ridder (12-0)
Don’t let Reinier de Ridder’s stand-up game fool you: nine of his twelve finishes have come by submission. He’s great in the clinch, and Ridder fights well at a distance as he has an excellent jab. When he lets his hands go, he is really accurate. The mat is where Ridder wants to be, as he is an expert jiu-jitsu practitioner — the sort who can time perfect double-leg takedowns. If Ridder is in the clinch, expect him to get the takedown as his hips are excellent and judo tosses are his best weapon. On top, or even on the mat in general, Ridder is the one in control. He is always moving and searching for submissions and that’s why he has eight submission wins. He fights the ONE double champion, Aung La Nsang (26-10) for the promotion’s middleweight (don’t forget the modified weight rules) title.
Lightweight, Christian Lee (13-3)
Lee is excellent on the feet, being quick and dynamic with outstanding footwork. His abilities on the mat are there when needed, holding four submission wins to date. At only 22, Lee is already a star for ONE Championship. Imagine where he’s going to be in, say, five years. He’s well-rounded, has solid cardio, and gets better in every fight. He fights Iuri Lapicus (14-0).
Lightweight, Iuri Lapicus (14-0)
Lapicus is an excellent prospect out of Moldova. Fighting for ONE Championship he’s beat both Shannon Wiratchai and Marat Gafurov. Lapicus has excellent judo and is primarily a grappler. He has finished all fourteen of his fights; ten of those have come by submission. Not much of a striker but it seems as he’s steadily improving there He fights the ONE champion Christian Lee (13-3).