A.J. McKee is well past the prospect stage of his career, but several other fighters are worth watching at Bellator 263 on Saturday. Among them, Usman Nurmagomedov and Islam Mamedov, both of whom hone their MMA skills under former UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
LFA 113 | US | Friday
Heavyweight, Thomas Petersen (4-0)
Peterson came into his MMA career with a background as a wrestler. He was a Minnesota State champion in high school and an NJCAA National champion at Iowa Central. Petersen has had no issue using his wrestling and landing ground and pound to send the ref in. Outside of that, he does have a one-punch knockout win. It’s still hard to tell how good he really is. Peterson fights Vernon Lewis (8-4) for the LFA heavyweight title.
Bantamweight, Ricky Camp (11-4)
Camp is making his return off a two-year layoff. Camp has five wins coming by submission but his stand-up is even more dangerous. The Guam native is a technical striker with stones in his hands. He’s done his job in dropping guys on the feet and finishing them on the mat. Camp is very well-rounded and has finishing ability everywhere. An exciting prospect that needs some eyes on him. He fights Greg Fischer (10-2).
Flyweight, Alden Coria (4-0)
Coria is a young man at only 23 with a lot of potential. Undefeated as a pro he went 5-0 as an amateur and won two titles. On the feet Coria is a good striker that mainly likes to kick the lead leg. He’s fairly confident on the feet but excels on the mat. Even on his back he’s got a dangerous guard. Coria does have slick grappling and is always improving his position. It’s hard to tell how good he is just yet due to his competition. He fights Donnie Ballou (7-4).
Bellator 263 | US | Saturday
Lightweight, Usman Nurmagomedov (12-0)
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 is his timing, double legs, and work on top. Simply put, he is a big threat. He fights Manny Muro (12-6).
Lightweight, Islam Mamedov (19-1-1)
A top-level wrestler, Mamedov finds the takedown naturally, and on top, he is as good as it gets. He sticks like glue, moves well, and is even excellent at taking the back. His ground-and-pound is very solid — not heavy strikes but constant strikes. Once Mamedov gets the separation, he has a good submission game. On the feet, he is explosive, and he lunges forward with hooks and flying knees. He has power but his ground game is where he is best. He fights Brent Primus (10-1).
Featherweight, Khasan Magomedsharipov (4-0)
Magomedsharipov is the younger brother of UFC featherweight contender Zabit Magomedsharipov. Khasan is only 4-0, although he has done some kickboxing fights as well. Magomedsharipov is a flashy kickboxer that likes to stay loose and throw those spinning kicks. It’s not overdone and his diverse striking is tight and set up. As good as he is on the feet Magomedsharipov is even better using his wrestling and grappling. He’s a long guy and uses it to his advantage on the mat, staying in control of every mistake his opponents make. He’s a submission threat from all positions it seems. Magomedsharipov fights Jonathan Quiroz (3-4).
Brave CF 52 | Italy | Sunday
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.
Welterweight, Abdoul Abdouraguimov (12-1)
The Russian native had a background in freestyle-wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu before switching over to MMA. He slows fairly quickly because of how aggressive he is early and his grapple-heavy style. He changed his nickname to the “Lazy King” because he plans on taking his time and being more proficient. His wrestling is decent, but Abdouraguimov could use his setups better. However, he does close the distance fairly well and is willing to take risks getting the fight to the mat because he scrambles so well. On the mat, Abdouraguimov does excellent work with grappling, but on the feet, he is unpredictable and just needs to be more technical. Overall, Abdouraguimov has a bright future. He fights Nursulton Ruziboev (29-8-2).
Bantamweight, Mochamed Machaev (10-0)
Machaev is a really good striker. He’s explosive, has commanding pressure, and a diverse striking arsenal. Machaev is constantly throwing combinations, mixing in a bit of everything. Although his foundation style is kickboxing, Machaev has some underrated wrestling. He’s very good at pressing against the cage and changing levels to the knees, getting the textbook double-leg. For the pace Machaev puts on, he has a deep gas tank. Outside of MMA, he has a K-1 kickboxing record of 7-0. He fights Gamzat Magomedov (5-1).
Welterweight, Benoit Saint-Denis (7-0)
Saint-Denis is an undefeated fighter from France that has done quite well for himself in the Brave CF promotion. He’s more of a wrestler/grappler; while he does throw a lot on the feet he is just a little sluggish. Saint-Denis is a solid wrestler though and that’s his main go-to. One drawback, he’s a bit too comfortable going to his back. With that said he does a good job creating space and getting out from underneath. His grappling is arguably his best weapon. He can be a little over-aggressive but winning by five different submissions he’s always dangerous. He fights Arkaitz Ramos (6-2).
Cage Warriors 126 | US | Sunday
Light heavyweight, Zac Pauga (3-0)
Pauga is an impressive fighter out of Team Elevation who has had an awesome pro career thus far. He’s primarily a wrestler but has some upside on the feet. He throws well to close the distance and in the clinch, he’s physically strong and has some very nice elbows he throws in the clinch and while he breaks away. Pauga is a strong wrestler and on top his ground and pound is his best weapon. Once again, those elbows are a valuable weapon for him on the feet and on the mat. I’ve been really impressed with Pauga in his young career. He fights Terrance Jean-Jacques (5-2).