Plenty of action in the MMA prospect realm was due to go down this week, aided by the return to action of Bellator MMA. We’re here to guide you through it as always!
BRAVE CF 50 | Bahrain | Wednesday
Welterweight, Jarrah Hussein Al-Silawi (15-2)
Jarrah Hussein is well-rounded with exceptional cardio and that has won him the Brave CF welterweight title twice. On the feet, once he gets warmed up, he’s a skilled striker. I like the way he kicks the legs after combinations. His striking defense could be better and so could his takedown defense but I think he’s at his best on the mat. He has five submissions and can threaten from both on the top and bottom. Hussein has good jiu-jitsu and while he is a bit more of a slower fighter, he has good technique. He fights former UFC fighter Ismail Naurdiev (20-4).
Light heavyweight, Mohamed Said Maalem (11-3)
Born in Geneva, Maalem is a good prospect. Not often do you see a heavyweight with an 11-3 record and on a six-fight win streak. The biggest issue is he’s 37-years-old. Despite his age, he hasn’t had any signs of slowing down and at heavyweight, you can get away with being older. Still, with one more loss he could be set back too far to make an impact in a major promotion. On the feet, Maalem has clubbing striking throwing big looping overhands. He does hit hard and strikes well to close the distance. He has solid wrestling and on top he’s going to threaten with big ground and pound. He fights Mohammad Fakhreddine (14-4) for the title.
Light heavyweight, Anton Turkalj (6-0)
Turkalj is a raw talent fighting out of Sweden. He’s a big guy standing at 6’4″ and is super athletic. On the feet, Turkalj fights long with a jab and kicks. He’s explosive throwing spinning kicks and flying knees as well. He puts together punches and knees well and can finish the fight at any moment. The Swede has an array of submissions dating back to his amateur MMA career. He’s well-rounded and although he’s still raw he’s got the skillset to go far in his division. He fights Konstantin Soldatov (5-1).
Featherweight, Borislav Nikolić (8-0)
Nikolić’s main attribute is his solid jiu-jitsu. Even off his back, Nikolić is aware of what’s going on. He scrambles well and is good at making bad positions into good ones. He oftentimes transitions into the mount or to the back to later finish the fight. Nikolić has excellent ground and pound. He’s finished fights a couple of times with ground shots. When not getting the finish, he has at least used ground and pound to improve the position or get to a submission. Shockingly enough, Nikolić actually comes from some sort of kickboxing background. Not that his stand-up is bad, per se, but his grappling is where he’s looked most comfortable before. I would like to see him cut the cage off more, but his hands are looking good. He throws in combos, and despite lacking power, he makes up for it in aggression. Nikolić has finished seven of his eight fights via submission. What he’s good at is attacking the neck, as he has earned two guillotines finishes and three rear-naked chokes. He fights former UFC fighter and TUF winner Brad Katona (8-2).
Lightweight, Amin Ayoub (15-4)
25-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 and he’s currently on a seven-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 Mashrabjon Ruziboev (10-2-1).
Bantamweight, Bair Shtepin (9-3)
From Russia, Bair Shtepin is one of the best-kept secrets among all Russian prospects. From the start of his career, he’s fought for Fight Nights Global and M-1 always testing his skillset. He’s only lost to good fighters and has beat good fighters as well. Shtepin is a diverse striker on the feet that mixes a bit of everything into combinations. The Russian likes to keep his opponents guessing throwing from different angles. He loves to be a bit flashy as that spinning kick to the body is money. The accuracy, the timing, and the setups with feints are all perfectly set-up. To make everything better he can wrestle when needed and has a good ground game. He fights Alexander Keshtov (9-1).
CFFC 94 | US | Friday
Welterweight, Bassil Hafez (6-1-1)
Hafez made a huge statement in his last fight. Not only did he win the CFFC welterweight title more impressively he beat a top prospect in Christien Savoie. Hafez is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Ricardo and Phil Migliarese. Even though Hafez beat a top prospect like Savoie, he does need to show a bit more overall. He defends his title against Evan Cutts (11-4).
Welterweight, Nick Alley (7-3)
Mid-2018, Alley was 3-3 and on a three-fight skid. However, Alley has hit his stride and is now on a four-fight win streak. He even beat John Gotti III in his last fight putting the brakes on that hype train. Alley is mainly a grappler and a big submission threat with five career subs. Even off his back, he’s comfortable there because of his strong jiu-jitsu. No matter where he’s at on the mat he’s happy. He fights Solomon Renfro (6-1).
iKon Fighting Federation | Mexico | Friday
Lightweight, Elvin Espinoza (4-0)
Espinoza is only 4-0 but is someone that’s caught my eye. Espinoza is a strong wrestler who has manhandled guys lifting and slamming them down to the mat. He is a grinder on top who is heavy with position and will take anything his opponents give him. On the feet, I want to see him move his head more but he’s held his own. He has good hands that are improving. He fights Luis Campa (3-2).
CFFC 95 | US | Saturday
Bantamweight, Paul Capaldo (5-0)
Capaldo is still young in his career but I will say it already seems like he’s now in his prime. He already has everything you look for in a fighter and is someone I’m sure will reach a big stage soon. Capaldo on the feet throws everything with heavy power looking to the finish. He has an excellent head kick which he has a knockout by in his pro debut. Not only a striker as Capaldo is probably a better wrestler than anything. Capaldo throws at a good pace and can do it for three solid rounds going the distance three times in his pro career. He fights Chris Vasil (4-1).
Bellator 255 | US | Friday
Lightweight, Usman Nurmagomedov (11-0)
A cousin of former UFC champ Khabib and brother of UFC fighter Umar, Usman Nurmagomedov is a kickboxer at heart. He doesn’t throw with much power but he’s flashy and diverse with his attacks. He will throw spinning kicks, roundhouse kicks, and question mark kicks. Usman stays unpredictable attacking with all limbs and throws combos with just his legs alone. His wrestling is good, as well as timing double legs and on top. Simply put, he is a big threat. He fights Mike Hamel (7-4).
Welterweight, Jason Jackson (13-4)
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 as being very well-rounded. He’s super athletic and seems to get better every time he fights. He already has career wins against Ben Henderson, Jordan Mein, Dhiego Lima, and Kiichi Kunimoto. He fights Neiman Gracie (10-1).
Bantamweight, Magomed Magomedov (17-1)
Magomedov is a good striker that has improved over the years but owns a better kicking game. He likes to get flashy at times, throwing a lot of spinning kicks which may be his best weapon. He is an excellent wrestler with superb grappling and can wrestle/grapple during the duration of the fight with his tremendous endurance. His only loss has been to the former UFC bantamweight champ Petr Yan. But he also has beaten Yan in the past so that says a lot about him. He fights Cee Jay Hamilton (15-7).
Welterweight, Mukhamed Berkhamov (14-1)
Berkhamov is a very solid fighter that can go the distance or finish. He has solid cardio going the distance three times but mainly ending the fight with his striking. He only throws a strike at a time but he is very explosive and is very hard to read as he throws hooks, jabs, leg kicks and head kicks and his timing is perfect. Berkhamov has soild wrestling as he changes levels great and always gets the takedown. He is very good on top moving well and stays heavy and gets dominate position frequently. He fights Herman Terrado (13-5-1).