MMA Prospect Watch: The Most Impressive Fighters from June

Lucas Brennan Bellator MMA
Lucas Brennan vs Andrew Salas, Bellator 252 Credit: Bellator MMA

Summer is here, the MMA world is heating up, and this weekend, the rubber match between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier arrives. But before all that, let’s take a look back at the month of June, and feature some of the standout fighting prospects that were in action.

Featherweight, Lucas Brennan (5-0)

Brennan came into this fight as a known submission threat and an overall good jiu-jitsu fighter. That didn’t stop his opponent from shooting for a takedown on a level change early on. He did pay for it right away going right into a front choke. Brennan had a tight d’arce choke and although his opponent squirmed to get out of it he eventually tapped. 21-years-old and still an untouched record.
Grade: B

Featherweight, Aaron Pico (8-3)

This was a career performance from Aaron Pico, beating a tough guy in Aiden Lee. Pico put on a wrestling clinic between three rounds scoring nine takedowns. Pico was all over Lee and never let up with trying to finish him. Round one alone he had two d’arce chokes in and an armbar. He kept at it in round two and in round three he finally got the d’arce choke that tapped Lee. Pico looked outstanding.
Grade: A+

Lightweight, John Mitchell (3-0)

Mitchell dominated this fight from start to finish. Right away he took his opponent down. He took him down three times in round one and dominated with top control. Multiple times he worked his way into dominant positions. Mitchell didn’t land heavy ground and pound but kept active and landed slicing elbows creating a cut. The takedowns continued in round two and Mitchell fired constant punches while in mount and on the back. Thanks to all the damage, after the second round the doctor called a stop to the fight.
Grade: B

Welterweight, Daniel Skibiński (18-5)

At the beginning, I was impressed with Skibinski. Through the middle of the fight, I wasn’t. But at the end, he drew me back in with a spectacular finish. Skibiński fought a guy in Acoidan Duque who was 16-2 and hadn’t lost a fight in nine years. Skibinski in the first round dropped Duque with a beautiful uppercut. His opponent survived and Skibinski was just in cruise control throwing very little and riding out positions. At the start of round three, he landed a perfectly placed flying knee. While standing over Duque, Skibinski landed some nasty hammer fist as Duque just crumbled. The fight was stopped with Duque’s legs behind him.
Grade: C+

Bantamweight, Bakhtovar Yunusov (5-0)

Yunusov fought a game opponent in Artem Lukyanov and Yunusov put on a beatdown. Yunusov got the fight down early and while he almost finished with an arm triangle he didn’t complete it. He landed a barrage of ground and pound but Lukyanov escaped to round two. Yunusov got the takedown right away in round two. Lukyanov did get top position briefly but right away Yunuson used a triangle to get the top position back. Yunuson got into mount and continued raining down punches until the ref stepped in.
Grade: A

Light-heavyweight, Vadim Rolich (3-1)

I came in with little expectations of Rolich but came out impressed. Rolich fought a smart tactical fight on the outside showing his wushu sanda background. Rolich threw a lot of leg kicks and was landing combinations from the outside. He was drawling his opponent in and countering when he pressed forward. Rolich threw a spinning kick to the liver a few times and that’s what he finished within the second round. Off a missed spinning back fist Rolich followed up with that spinning kick to the body and it crumbled his opponent. Rolich was taken down quite easily twice and was slowing down so they’re concerns.
Grade: C+

Strawweight, Anastasia Feofanova (8-1)

Feofanova started the fight off marching across the canvas with straight punches to close the distance. She got the takedown early and beat her opponent up in the crucifix position. After some shots landed she threw up her leg and set up an inverted triangle. She rolled to her back and the crank had her opponent tap out.
Grade: C+

Bantamweight, Abdul Karim Badakhsh (5-0)

Badakhsh was an unknown fighter at the time and fought a highly touted prospect in Aydemir Kazbekov. Kazbekov took Badakhsh which was expected. Badakhsh was moving well off his back and as soon as he controlled a wrist he locked in a tight triangle so fast. Kazbekov tried to escape but it wasn’t long until he was put to sleep and was handed his first loss.
Grade: B

Welterweight, Denis Maher (8-0)

Maher fought another undefeated fighter in Rinat Sagyntay handing him his first loss. He fought real smart and was picking his shots. It was a tactical fight, as it was a chess match at the very beginning. Out of nowhere, Maher landed a beautiful uppercut that dropped and finished Sagyntay. Nicely set up and perfectly executed.
Grade: B-

Lightweight, Nic Ouellet (1-0)

Quellet is a jiu-jitsu ace so he wanted this fight down as soon as possible. From an attempted throw he ended up on his back. Quickly he used a heel hook to get top position. He went right after submissions. Quellet had a kimura locked in briefly and then later went to a guillotine. With the guillotine in Quellet locked in a tight triangle. While still having the triangle locked in he locked in a nasty kimura forcing his opponent to tap. Excellent chain-submissions.
Grade: B+

Bantamweight, Gerico Platon (2-0)

Platon put on a frantic pace from the start of the fight. He opened up with combinations coming from his hands and outside leg kicks. It was a left hook coming off a leg kick that dropped his opponent. His opponent got back to his feet and attempted to take down Platon. While defending against the cage Platon sunk in an RNC and then got the hooks and his opponent tapped.
Grade: C+

Welterweight, Preston Parsons (9-2)

Parsons is usually a wrestler/jiu-jitsu guy but his striking was on full display here. While it was competitive at first on the feet Parsons took over pretty quick. Parsons put on a striking clinic landing volume while using some good head movement. It was it the clinch where he shined,  landing excellent combinations to the body and head while landing damaging elbows as well. He did all that while mixing in a few takedowns. Parsons was taken down in the second round but locked in an armbar to get the win.
Grade: A

Bantamweight, Justin Wetzell (7-1)

This was a career performance taking out Askar Askar who was on UFC’s radar. Wetzell was aggressive right away and in every exchange on the feet, Wetzell was beating Askar to the punch. In every exchange, Wetzell was never getting fazed. Askar did get a takedown in round one but Wetzell set up a beautiful triangle and if there was more time in the round he would’ve finished. Wetzell got a single leg takedown in round two and Askar was spent. Wetzell landed a lot of unanswered punches and the ref stepped in.
Grade: B+

Featherweight, Edwin Cooper Jr (4-1)

Robson Junior had some hype coming into this fight. He was 3-0 with three first-round finishes. Cooper wasted no time showing the young man that he’s on a different level. Cooper got a single-leg takedown right away in the fight. Even though he had to fight through a few armbars Cooper was composed. Cooper dominated top position and landed active ground and pound. Junior opened up round two with a takedown and Cooper defended and got top position. Cooper continued to land punches until the ref stepped in. Such a dominant one-sided fight.
Grade: A+

Bantamweight, Steve Erceg (7-1)

This was an awesome scrap between Ecreg and another good prospect in Cody Haddon. It was also a very close fight where Ecreg won in just seconds of two rounds. Haddon was getting the best of Ecreg on the feet. Ecreg did land some good shots on the feet but his wrestling kept him in the fight. He was timing his shots and showing some excellent chain wrestling between three rounds. Round one Ecreg got the back and had an RNC in at the bell. Round three Ecreg closed out the fight with a takedown and got to mount and that won on the scorecards.
Grade: B+