Bellator MMA has proven to have an eye for prospects like no other major mixed martial arts promotion over the past several years. Talents like A.J. McKee, Tyrell Fortune, Vadim Nemkov (now champion), Juan Archuleta (now champion), Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (now champion), Aaron Pico, Adam Borics, James Gallagher, and others have been scooped up, often quite early in their careers. Or in the cases of McKee and Pico, while still 0-0 fighters.
This Thursday, Bellator is back with a number of big prospects. Two — Sumiko Inaba and Jaylon Bates — will be making their pro debut. Others, including Austin Vanderford and Alex Polizzi, remain undefeated standouts looking to break into the top half of the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, respectively.
With Brave CF and ONE Championship in action as well, there’s plenty of up-and-comers to keep an eye on this week. Here’s a look!
Brave CF 44 | Thursday | Bahrain
Lightweight, Amin Ayoub (14-4)
24-year-old French fighter Amin Ayoub already has a good amount of fights under his belt. He hasn’t lost a fight in over two years as he’s currently on a six-fight win streak. Ayoub is a European kickboxing champion but eight of his MMA wins come by submission. His takedown defense needs a lot of work but at least he does have a dangerous guard. Ayoub on the feet throws good output and mixes his kicks and punches together well. Not sold on him but he has a lot of talent. He fights the champ Cleiton Silva (15-2).
Welterweight, Louis Glismann (7-1)
Glismann is a top-notch grappler out of Denmark. From the start of the fight, Glismann is very aggressive getting the fight to the mat right away. With a high work ethic in the jiu-jitsu department, Glismann is constantly working to improve position. He’s a high-level grappler easily passing guard and flowing on top. He has good ground and pound and is a really dangerous submission threat. He fights Abdoul Abdouraguimov (11-1) who is a good test.
Lightweight, John Brewin (6-1)
After suffering his first loss nearly two years ago, Brewin has won his last two fights. On the feet, he’s a really accurate striker who has shown power but more so his counter striking is solid. He’s technical with his leg kicks and his stand up altogether. He’s shown more of a ground game with decent wrestling but it’s his top position with ground and pound that is most solid. He fights former UFC fighter Rolando Dy (13-9).
Bellator 251 | Thursday | US
Light heavyweight, Julius Anglickas (8-1)
Anglickas has a strong wrestling base, that being his best weapon for sure. He can wrestle all fight as his cardio has proved to be very good. He also has a dangerous submission attack, holding four submission wins in his career. On the feet, Anglickas bull rushes opponents and beats them up in the clinch. He also throws good leg kicks and a good jab. He’s got a solid work ethic and eventually breaks your will. He fights Alex Polizzi (7-0).
Light heavyweight, Alex Polizzi (7-0)
Polizzi has the recipe to be a big prospect in the 205lb weight class. Polizzi was a D1 wrestler at Northwestern University from 2010-2015 and was a state champion. Polizzi needs work on his stand-up but his wrestling and athleticism will take him far. His ground and pound have been his best weapon to date. He fights Julius Anglickas (8-1).
Middleweight, Austin Vanderford (9-0)
Vanderford is a really strong wrestler as he was a national amateur wrestling champion. He has excellent chain wrestling and once on top, he is very dominant. He doesn’t have much on the feet but he is growing and he does hold a lot of power in his hands. Vanderford is solid once he gets on top with heavy top control and heavy ground and pound. He fights Vinicius de Jesus (9-3) which is a stiff test.
ONE Championship | Friday | Singapore
Middleweight, James Nakashima (12-0)
James Nakashima doesn’t have the most exciting style nor is he dominant in any one position, but he is very skilled everywhere. James is starting to become more of an aggressive fighter coming forward and creating more action, although he is still more of a counter striker for the most part. Wrestling-wise, James is good but his positional grappling is where I think he is best. He does get better as the fight progresses. Nakashima trains with The MMA Lab, which has really developed into an excellent camp, and almost every fighter coming out of that camp is a well-conditioned athlete. He fights welterweight champ (keep in mind ONE’s modified weight rules) Kiamrian Abbasov (22-4).