Weekly MMA Prospect Report: PFL is Back!

Natan Schulte PFL
Natan Schulte Credit: Ryan Loco/PFL

After sitting out 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Professional Fighters League is back in a big way this week. PFL 1 of the league’s third season takes place Friday, and while it’s not the only game in town, the promotion has plenty of up-and-coming MMA talent to offer. LFA, KSW, and others are hosting events as well, so let’s get to his week’s prospect report.

ACA 122 | Belarus | Friday

Featherweight, Elismar Lima (23-7)

The 32-year-old Brazilian Lima has been in the sport of MMA for nine years and despite enduring a lot of setbacks, he’s had more successes. At least in the last five years, he’s only lost to good fighters and on the other side has beat good fighters. Lima is a dangerous striker with a lot of pop in his hands, his forward movement, his accuracy, and his bodywork. His biggest issue is his takedown defense but he does well off his back. He’s competed in some grappling matches but at least in MMA he hasn’t been a submission threat. He’s still a threat overall with good top position and ground and pound. He fights the well-known Levan Makashvili (14-7-1).

PFL #1 | US | Friday

Lightweight, Natan Schulte (20-3)

Schulte came into PFL in mid-2018 with an 11-3 record. Someone that wasn’t a favorite at all, he is now the favorite and the two-time PFL lightweight tournament winner. Schulte isn’t perfect – he gets tired, he gets hit a lot, and his takedown defense isn’t the best. It’s his forward pressure and will that have seen him prevail in his career. What Schulte brings to the table is solid jiu-jitsu and opposing striking. Schulte is always in your face throwing short tight strikes and chopping low calf kicks — that’s one of his better weapons. He’s a good wrestler especially with some solid judo throws. He has it all. Schulte fights the well-traveled Marcin Held (26-7).

Featherweight, Movlid Khaybulaev (15-0-1)

Khaybulaev is a very solid fighter all around, and he is really technical in his stand-up. He throws a lot of spinning attacks, not overdoing it, but that is a good thing. Khaybulaev uses the flying knee often, which he’s used to knock out opponents. With that said, he also has good wrestling; he is able to shoot in for a double leg or he can lift and slam you to the mat. Khaybulaev can usually get the fight down multiple times in a bout. He fights Lazar Stojadinovic (14-7).

Lightweight, Mikhail Odintsov (17-2)

In his last eleven fights, Mikhail Odintsov has only lost one bout and has won now six in a row. On the feet, he throws a lot. He throws a variety of weapons and throws to the legs, body, and head. Odintsov utilizes a lot of feints to time his shots shooting very low double leg takedowns. He has exceptional grappling and fight-ending ground and pound. He fights Akhmet Aliev (19-6).

AKA 114 | Friday | US

Welterweight, AJ Fletcher (7-0)

Since losing two consecutive fights as an amateur in 2018, Fletcher has hit his stride. The Louisiana-born fighter has looked excellent across seven pro bouts. The fighting style of Fletcher slightly resembles Contender Series veteran and UFC fighter Ian Heinisch. Fletcher is a strong wrestler with heavy hands along with good cardio. He fights Ariel Juarez (3-4).

LFA 105 | US | Friday

Strawweight, Svetlana Gotsyk (13-4)

Gotsyk is mainly a wrestler with ferocious ground and pound until she sees an opening for an armbar. On the feet, she stands at 5″2′ making it hard for her to get inside and strike, but that doesn’t affect her being able to stand and brawl, which is where she thrives. She is still really green but is young and getting better with each fight. One of her four losses came early in her career to current UFC strawweight champion Weili Zhang. She fights Pierangela Rodriguez (5-0).

Strawweight, Pierangela Rodriguez (5-0)

Rodriguez is an all-action-type fighter who is a fun one to watch. She does need to work on her takedown defense as that is by far her weakest area. Rodriguez loves to just throw her hands. In her constant rapid attack, she does hit hard and is pretty accurate. Rodriguez is untested and still green but the potential is there. She fights Svetlana Gotsyk (13-4).

Strawweight, Tabatha Ricci (4-0)

Ricci is a judo black belt and a training partner of UFC’s Mackenzie Dern. On the feet, Ricci is a buzzsaw in blitzes dishing out a lot of output. She strikes well to close the distance and once she gets the takedown she’s where she wants to be. Ricci has strong jiu-jitsu, that being her best weapon. You can’t complain about anything she does grappling-wise as she is very good. She fights Shawna Ormsby (2-3).

Light heavyweight, Bruce Souto (13-3)

Souto hasn’t fought in nearly two years and for his return fight, he’s moving up to light heavyweight. Souto was a big welterweight so it makes sense. Souto has fought for M1, ACB, Jungle Fights, and Future FC. He’s on an eight-fight win streak beating some solid dudes. Souto is a good striker with a lot of forward pressure. He does well at coming forward closing the distance and tripping his opponents to the mat. Where he does his best work is on the mat. His ground and pound is good and is just as dangerous as a submission threat. Souto has excellent cardio which sets him apart. He fights Cristhian Torres (15-11).

Welterweight, Mark Martin (5-1)

Mark Martin doesn’t have much MMA experience but is a highly touted wrestler. Some of his accolades including being a Fila junior national champ, a two-time Ohio high school state champ, and a three-time D1 national qualifier from Ohio State University. Martin is obviously a strong wrestler and will decide the wrestle the entire fight. He also strikes his way into wrestling attempts well. Martin has a good submission attack and has gone three rounds already so that looks good. He fights Renato Valente (7-3).

KSW 60 | Poland | Saturday

Featherweight, Vojto Barborik (12-1)

Currently on a ten-fight win streak, Vojto Barborik’s only loss is to a good fighter in Tomas Deak. Barborik is primarily a wrestler who chains together his takedown attempts well. He’s a monster on top with active and heavy ground and pound. He’s very sound with nasty elbows and heavy hammer fists. Barborik doesn’t have many TKO stoppages as nine of his wins are via submission. He fights Krzysztof Klaczek (12-6).

Featherweight, Patryk Kaczmarczyk (6-0)

Kaczmarczyk is one of the many bright young prospects out of Poland. The 23-year-old has a lot of good things going for him. On the feet, Kaczmarczyk is a good counter striker, throws heavy leg kicks, has a dangerous lead flying knee he throws, and throws in combinations. He excels when the fight is in close quarters using excellent offensive and defensive wrestling. Kaczmarczyk is a problem on the mat as his transitions are smooth and is always working to improve his position and finish the fight. He really has it all. He fights Michał Sobiech (4-0).

RCC | Russia | Saturday

Heavyweight, Andre Miranda (7-2)

Miranda started off his career at 0-2 but has hit his stride and won his next seven fights. Miranda utilizes a lot of feints/twitches to keep his opponents guessing. “Monstro” has solid hand speed, often firing right down the middle. He also throws some heavy kicks mixing it up well. He tends to get drawn into brawls and he’s just relentless with his hands. He fights Alexander Podmarev (9-4).


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