As we head into summer, the MMA business is picking up. Let’s look back to the best prospects from the month of May.
Welterweight, Máté Kertész (10-4)
Kertesz fought an undefeated prospect in Bruno Carvalho and dominated him, handing him his first loss. Kertesz was heavy on the gas for three rounds with an aggressive, smothering wrestling pace. In all three rounds Kertesz took Carvalko down and dominated with position while staying active enough with his ground and pound. You can’t discredit the guy for dominating a fight that many thought he’d lose.
Lightweight, Leo Brichta (8-3)
Brichta beat and decimated former Bellator veteran Kirill Medvedovski. Right away Brichta asserted himself finding his range and picking Medvedovski apart. He was landing long straights and kicking to the body and head. Off a right hand, he landed flush with the left high kick to the face, dropping Medvedovski. From there Brichta looked for the kill and decided not to engage Medvedovski on the mat. While he let Medvedovski up he sent him back down with a flying knee and then another head kick followed by another flying knee. Brichta, with a barrage of knees and punches, sent Medvedovski down. He curled up and the ref stepped in. Brichta fought with killer instinct and composure.
Strawweight, Ewelina Wozniak (5-0)
Following her quickest finish to date, Wozniak remains undefeated. She had all intentions on unloading on the feet before her opponent took her down. Right away Wozniak locked in a triangle and got the tap. It’s always nice seeing a young fighter know what they’re doing off their back.
Heavyweight, Kirill Kornilov (9-0-1)
Heavyweight prospect Kirill Kornilov continued his rise, beating former UFC fighter Wagner Prado. Kornilov was walked down the entire three rounds. Even though Prado was the one coming forward Kornilov was the one landing better shots. The Russian was countering very well and his shot placement was on point. He was still flat-footed howeer, and was hit more than he should have been.
Bantamweight, Denis Lavrentyev (11-2)
In what started out to be a battle for position along the cage, Lavrentyev turned it on in the later rounds. He won takedowns and dominated with ground and pound and position. Through three rounds he fought at the same pace and got better as the fight went on.
Lightweight, Milson Castro (13-3)
The only negative thing to say about this performance from Castro is that he was taken down a lot. Apart from that, Castro was teeing off on the feet with punches and kicks. He was throwing in volume and his right hand wobbled his opponent twice. Even when he was taken down he always got back up or reversed. When he was taken down in the third he rolled for a leg and won by an armbar.
Featherweight, Evgeniy Ignatiev (16-2-2)
The Russian Ignatiev fought a very game opponent in a 17-6 Brazilian, Taigro Costa. In this fight Ignatiev showcased his striking. He was stepping in with combinations while leading and ending with power shots. There was a big left hook in the first that hurt his opponent. He even landed a beautiful uppercut to a left hook combination followed by a takedown. Ignatiev landed a few takedowns as well, and was taken down himself but took no damage. At the end of round two at the bell Ignatiev landed a step-in elbow. That caused the doctor to end the fight due to the cut that subsequently opened up on Costa. A strong performance from the surging Russian.
Welterweight, Magomed Umalatov (10-0)
Undefeated Russian Umalatov made his PFL debut and easily beat Contender Series veteran Kyron Bowen. Round one started and Umalatov right away timed a level change and took Bowen down. Umalatov kept the fight grounded the entire round and beat him up with ground and pound. He went body-head a lot and at the end of the round, he unloaded and almost ended the fight. It would have been over if there were only a few seconds left. At the beginning of round two Umalatov landed an overhand right flooring Bowen. Maybe a bit early but the ref stepped in immediately.
Heavyweight, Denis Goltsov (26-6)
Goltsov fought a tough opponent in Mo DeReese but it was all Gotsov from beginning to end. From the start Goltsov was landing the long jab and using a lot of kicks from the outside. He was throwing leg kicks, body kicks, and going to the head and he landed just about everything. Goltsov had DeReese curling up the whole time and he couldn’t get any shots off. For the entire first round, Goltsov teed off on DeReese while picking his shots and attacking every part of his opponent. Late in round one Goltsov took Dereese down and while on the back the unanswered shots sent the ref in.
Lightweight, Kayla Harrison (9-0)
Harrison continues her undefeated streak and remains as the top women’s lightweight in the world. She quickly closed the distance on her opponent and got her knee on the outside for an easy trip takedown. From there Harrison quickly got into mount and took the back. Harrison unleashed some ferocious ground and pound on the back to send the ref in.
Flyweight, Juan Puerta (22-6)
Puerta, one of the best flyweight prospects in the world, gets another first-round stoppage. Of the little time the fight was on the feet, Puerta landed good kicks. He timed a flying knee from his opponent to get an easy takedown. Puerta took the back and it was all over from there. He had to work hard but he kept stuck on the back and eventually got the RNC. That’s now eleven wins in a row.
Flyweight, Jesus Santos Aguilar (6-1)
For the first time in his career, Aguilar jumped out to me. He beat a guy in Jamie Alvarez who is a TUF and Contender Series veteran. Round one was a bit back and forth, but Aguilar won it. Aguilar got a takedown and then Alvarez got a takedown in turn. Aguilar did a good job, exploding when Alvarez tried to take mount and got back to his feet. At the end of the round, Aguilar got another takedown. Aguilar was sloppy with his striking in the first but in the second he caught Alvarez coming in and dropped him. Aguilar jumped guard for a guillotine but didn’t get it. Off his back, Aguilar had a wrap around the head and used that to sweep Alvarez. He still had a guillotine and again jumped guard but this time got the tap.
Lightweight, Daniel Zellhuber (11-0)
Mexico’s Zellhuber had a dazzling performance in May. Keeping the fight at his range with jabs and kicks, he got it done almost right away. Zellhuber landed a beautiful question mark kick that wobbled his opponent. He followed that up with a long straight one-two. A straight right hand backpedaled his opponent and Zellhuber hit him with a perfect switch knee dropping him. It was all over as the ref stopped in after a few more strikes. Being as experienced as Zelluber is, beating a guy making his pro debut does take away from his performance.
Strawweight, Tania Torres (4-0)
Torres who is someone I watched for the first time in May, and she made a big impact in this fight. Both ladies were landing leg kicks and it was Torres landing the better ones. Off a blind kick her opponent threw, Torres landed a right-left-right dropping the girl and the ref stepped in. Beautiful combination off a perfectly timed read.
Flyweight, Alessandro Costa (9-2)
Brazil’s Costa defended his LUX title for the first time against a notable flyweight in Jorge Calvo Martin. Martin was the aggressor but right away Costa earned his respect with a counter left hook. Costa was very powerful and so slick with everything he threw. His head movement looked good and he was slipping and returning very well. Midway in the first Costa landed a glancing left hook to the liver that crumbled Martin. The ref would stop in and that would give Costa four wins in a row.
Featherweight, Isaac Dulgarian (2-0)
In the opening seconds Dulgarian landed a kick right to the face. He was clearly wanting to get the fight to the mat and while he didn’t get it there the first time, he did on his second attempt. Dulgarian transitioned into mount right away. A few nasty elbows forced his opponent to give up his back. Dulgarian was smooth and fast as possible as he glided to the back and sunk in the RNC for the tap.
Middleweight, Johnny Eblen (8-0)
Bellator’s Eblen fought an experienced Daniel Madrid, who had twenty-four pro fights coming into this fight. Eblen asserted himself right away landing power kicks, exploding with lunging hooks, and jabs to the body. Madrid was trying to feint Eblen into something but he wasn’t biting. Eblen did well landing in bursts and it was an explosive right-left on the button dropping Madrid. Eblen followed up with a barrage of hammer fist knocking Madrid out cold.
Bantamweight, Jahmar Whitehead (1-0)
One of the most high profile amateur fighters to come out of the country made his pro debut in May. It only took him 0:49 to get the job done. It was a feeling-out process in the beginning but Whitehead showed really good footwork. His opponent threw a leg kick and Whitehead dropped him with a left hand. The barrage of extra punches on the mat put the guy out.
Flyweight, Taylor Mauldin (1-0)
Both Mauldin and her opponent Ambar De La Herran made their pro debut in this fight. Both ladies got at it right away. Mauldin made the first move landing a head and arm throw. Herran from her back attacked with an armbar and Mauldin stood up and fell to her back to attack a leg. Mauldin went for a heel hook but the angle changed and she locked in a nasty armbar, forcing Herran to tap.
Featherweight, Jose Perez (4-0)
Perez had a crazy fight with another prospect ,Jaleon Reid, who was 3-0 as well at the time. Both guys started off well trading on the feet back and forth. Reid dropped Perez with a short right hand but it wasn’t over. Off his back Perez wasn’t in danger, rather he was the one creating problems. Perez quickly locked in a triangle and it was tight along with throwing some elbows. Somehow Reid escaped but made the mistake of dropping for a guillotine and Perez took his back and won with a RNC.
Strawweight, Elise Reed (4-0)
In this fight, Reed defended her CFFC strap for the second time. This time out, she beat Contender Series veteran Hilarie Rose, who is a good prospect herself. Reed and Rose had a lot of tense moments in the first round. Rose was landing a lot of hard kicks off combinations and Reed landed with her hands really well. Reed took Rose down and Rose attacked with an inverted triangle off her back. It was tight and everyone was shocked that Reed got out of that. Reed from there got into a dominant position and landed a lot of ground and pound to close the round. Round two Rose was done and Reed pressed the pace landing output. She had Rose falling to her knees. Reed took the back and with seconds left the ref was forced to come in after relentless ground strikes.
Bantamweight, Allan Begosso (6-0)
Begosso remained undefeated and his defense had to be on point in the fight. His opponent, Sabyrzhan Uulu, was aggressive with the takedown attempts. With the first one Begosso used a guillotine to escape, in the second one he used hammer fist to get away. From a loss of balance Uulu finally got Begosso grounded. When he took Begosso down Begosso had an arm-in guillotine and had Uulu tap out. Solid defense and submission skills off his back.
Bantamweight, Ricardo Dias (10-4)
When talking about career performances, that’s exactly what Brazil’s Ricardo Dias had in May. Against a good fighter like George Garcia, the way Dias styled on him was so impressive. In round one he dropped Garcia with a reset right hand. Dias did a 360 guard pass and dropped for a heel hook that had Garcia grimacing. It was a beautiful sequence. Garcia took Dias down twice but Dias both times had the momentum and he was the one landing in top position. There where a time where he almost sent the ref in throwing some nasty elbows. Round two went no better for Garcia. Dias caught him coming in with a right hand and followed up with a perfectly timed knee putting him out like a light.
Welterweight, Mihail Kotruţă (13-1)
With the WWFC welterweight title on the line, Kotruta defended his strap and stopped Giorgi Tabatadze in round two. Kotruta really let his hands go in this fight, with only a few takedowns landed. He stayed in the face of Tabatadze throwing combinations with his right and left hand while kicking away at the lead leg. He got in some trouble at the end of round one having his back taken but escaped. Round two he landed a hook to the body that hurt Tabatadze. After some argument, the ref finally stepped in to stop the fight.
Heavyweight, Tee Cummins (4-0)
Cummins did look good and got the first-round stoppage but his opponent was really questionable. Cummins spent time on the outside landing kicks and landing with his hands when his opponent came in. He timed his opponent throwing a sloppy spinning backfist for a takedown. When the fight got back to the feet his foe was drained of energy. He threw a head kick that hurt his opponent’s hand and followed up with a big double leg takedown. In side control, Cummins landed a barrage of nasty elbows and the ref finally showed mercy and stopped the fight.
Flyweight, Paris Moran (4-1)
Moran looked outstanding in this fight. The Sanshou practitioner fought his fight and controlled the pace. He was picking his opponent Shawn Solis apart at range with one-twos, kicks, the jab, and landed and retreated out of the pocket. In round one Moran hit a gorgeous judo throw. Round two, while putting on an impressive technical display, he landed a beautiful switch knee on the button knocking Solis out cold in spectacular fashion.
Welterweight, Nikolay Veretennikov (9-3)
Veretennikov fought former UFC fighter Anthony Ivy. Ivy is a good wrestler and Veretennikov defended each takedown attempt perfectly. Ivy was in good on the legs too but Veretennikov was just too strong. Every time he defended a takedown he kneed the body of Ivy, and took a good one with two minutes in that hurt him bad. The ref stepped in but it was too early.
Lightweight, Alexander Shabliy (20-3)
I expected more of a fight between Shabliy and Alfie Davis but Shabliy dominated. Shabily out-kicked the kickboxer tearing up the lead leg of Davis. Shabliy also landed a nice wheel kick. Every time Davis threw a kick Shabliy counted with a punch and it busted up the face of Davis. He controlled the range, and in rounds one and three he got a takedown and dominated top position. Shabliy was in cruise control the whole time and fought smart.
Bantamweight, Danny Sabatello (11-1)
It wasn’t an exciting fight at all but considering the circumstances, Sabatello showed up. Getting signed to Bellator and taking a fight with a fighter like Brett Johns on short notice was a lot to accomplish. Sabatello did just that and he easily dominated Johns. Sabatello out-wrestled Johns from start to finish. Mainly on the back of Johns he was putting him down countless times. Johns did well at getting back to his feet but Sabatello always put him right back down.
Heavyweight, Davion Franklin (3-0)
Fraklin fought Tyler King and King isn’t at the same level. King still had way more experience but it didn’t matter. Franklin right away asserted himself showing huge power and explosion. He hurt King early on but took a few moments later and popped him with a lead left followed by two right hands bombs sending King to the canvas. King was out cold shortly after.
Lightweight, Aviv Gozali (6-0)
Submission specialist Aviv Gozali did it again getting another first round submission. Right away he caught a kick to take his opponent down, and right into mount he was. His opponent was able to get back to his feet though. Gozali landed three hard outside leg kicks before shooting in on the legs. He instead pulled guard and attacked a leg to quickly submit his opponent with a heel hook.
Bantamweight, Bryce Meredith (1-0)
This was the MMA debut of Bryce Meredith who was a three-time All-American wrestler out of the University of Wyoming. He fought a much more experienced Steven Merrill who was 5-6 at the time. This fight was crazy for as long as it lasted. Meredith came right at Merrill letting his hands go, and he was just coming short on landing a big right hand. Merrill caught Meredith coming in with a left hook and it put Meredith down. Merrill dropped to his back for a guillotine but Meredith escaped. Meredith went off with ground and pound not letting Merrill off the hooks. The wrestler controlled Merrill and got into mount and kept unloading punches until the ref stepped in. Crazy round one outcome.
Flyweight, Clayton Carpenter (4-0)
Carpenter got to it quick throwing a lead right hook and a knee inside. They tied up and after he couldn’t throw his opponent Carpenter rolled underneath for a leg. Carpenter set in up perfectly and his intuition was spot on. He had the right angle and put on the kneebar forcing his opponent to tap in under a minute.
Flyweight, Mark Climaco (6-0)
Climaco fought a very game Rodney Kealohi and won on all three judges’ scorecards. He mixed it up very well but it was the wrestling that won him the fight. Climaco landed a lot of heavy outside leg kicks and was throwing punches behind the kicks as well. He took Kealohi down many times. Kealohi got back up and was never in any real danger, but Climaco was all over him and never stopped.
Welterweight, Islam Dulatov (4-1)
It only took Germany’s Islam Dulatov 28 seconds to get his hand raised. He kept pumping out his left jab and when he threw a right straight behind it, it hurt his opponent. Dultatov swarmed with follow-up strikes putting the man out cold. Since losing his pro debut he’s gone on to win his next four fights.
Bantamweight, Frans Mlambo (10-5)
Mlambo traveled to Poland to challenge for the FEN title against champion Jonas Magard. Magard was 12-4 and was close to signing to a major promotion. It only took Mlambo a little over a minute to submit Magard. The long Mlambo landed kicks and strikes from range. Magard already knew he had to close the distance but he went right into a guillotine from Mlambo and he tapped.
Welterweight, Jerald Spohn (1-0)
Spohn was aggressive early on and when the two tied up, his opponent made the mistake of rolling for a leg. Spohn dominated top position while actively landing punches and smashing elbows. The amount of ground and pound added up but Spohn, partially on the back, sunk in a RNC for the tap. The highly regarded amateur looked great in his pro debut.
Featherweight, Eddy Torres (4-0)
This was a big fight for Torres as the main event of CFFC 96. As a pro, he’d never gone the distance and this time he did and was dominant for the most part. A few times he was on his back but showed some strong jiu-jitsu. The moments he was on his feet he was winning the exchanges. It was the wrestling that won him this fight. His jiu-jitsu as well helped him control the major part of the fight. You can really tell he’s been training with Sean Brady.
Bantamweight, David Martinez (4-1)
Martinez competed in Combate Global’s one-night eight-man bantamweight tournament. In the tournament were former UFC fighters Francisco Rivera Jr and Nohelin Hernandez. Martinez won three fights that night including knocking out Rivera in the final. Martinez in those three fights, of the clips I saw, was accurate and put immense power in everything he threw.
Welterweight, Khabib Nabiev (4-0)
Even though his striking didn’t look too good, Nabiev did get a knockdown in round two. Nabiev looked great when he got the fight to the mat. He floated on top and was taking the mount and back over and over. Every time his opponent moved he was moving right with him flowing in transition. When he got the knockout in round two his opponent did finally turn towards him and get top position. Nabiev quickly escaped out of the back door. For the remainder of the round, Nabiev stayed on top and beat his opponent up. All the damage caused a cut above his eye and the doctor stopped it after the round.
Lightweight, Nair Melikyan (7-0)
The young 23-year-old out of Armenia bumped his undefeated record up a notch. came against what was his biggest test to date by far in Brazil’s Kewin Jacques. It only took Melikyan 46-seconds to dispatch of Jacques. He came right at Jacques and although he was swinging wild he was landing. It was a club of a left hand that put Jacques down and the ref stepped in. The stoppage was a bit premature though.
Featherweight, James Lyons (2-0)
Lyons wasn’t in that cage to waste any time. He opened up landing a head kick that was partially blocked but still had some impact. Lyons threw that head kick countless times before he shot for a takedown. He shot for a single leg to take the back. From there he quickly sunk in the RNC and put his opponent to sleep.
Featherweight, Stefano Catacoli (3-0)
Catacoli did go the scorecards but that didn’t mean he didn’t try to finish his opponent, because he took it to him. He got the takedown early in each round and basically dominated the entire fight. The times he was on his back he attacked with submissions and they were all tight. Round one he had an RNC sunk in a few times. In round two he landed some nasty ground and pound. In round three he had a triangle in and scrambled very well. All Catacoli in this fight.
Welterweight, Losene Keita (5-0)
Keita fought a low-level opponent but treated him the way we all expected. Kieta hurt his opponent in the first exchange with a right hand. He didn’t want to strike at all with Keita so he was falling to his back and shooting for desperate takedowns. Keita followed him to the mat once and landed some ground and pound. Once the fight got back to the feet Keita dropped his opponent with a short left hook. The ref stepped in and while it was maybe a bit soon, it was obvious Keita was going to hurt him even more.