MMA Prospect Watch: The Most Impressive Fighters from August

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Jornel Lugo, Bellator 265 Credit: Bellator MMA

Bantamweight, Jornel Lugo (7-0)

Lugo just continues to impress and did so this time against Keith Lee, who is solid in his own right. He found his range quick jabbing the face off of Lee. Lugo started to pull away and ended up dropping Lee with a jab. Lugo rolled for an anaconda choke but Lee escaped back to the feet. Lee ended up shooting for a takedown and Lugo partially took the back. Lugo had in the RNC and at the bell put Lee out.
Grade: A+

Flyweight, Aktore Batyrbek (4-0)

Kazakhstan’s Batyrbek remained undefeated taking the “0” from the record of Ernis Abdilakim Uulu. Batyrbek attempted a takedown but was slung to his back. Right into offense mode Batyrbek locked in a triangle. His opponent was toughing in out but eventually had to tap. I would’ve liked to see more but I was impressed enough.
Grade: C

Flyweight, Azat Maksum (13-0)

Not much happened leading up to the finish but the knockout came out of nowhere. Maksum was using a lot of feints and just stabbing on the outside slightly. Two minutes in after pumping the left jab he landed an overhand right. Spinning his opponent around, who then went down face first as he was out cold.
Grade: B-

Flyweight, Asu Almabaev (13-2)

Coming into August, Almabaev versus Aleksander Doskalchuk was my most anticipated fight. Two really good flyweight prospects that deserve to be in the UFC. The first round was competitive. It was Doskalchuk early on who got the takedown but had to fight through a guillotine. Almabaev got the takedown at the end of the round and ended at the bell on the back. Round two was all Almabaev as he opened up with a takedown and got another one scooping Doskalchuk up and slamming him down. Doskalchuk kept getting up and Almabaev kept trying to take the back. Almabaev finally took the back and right away sunk in the RNC and Doskalchuk tapped. Almabaev is the real deal.
Grade: B+

Lightweight, Vasiliy Takhtay (9-0)

If you want see an ass whooping check out how Takhtay handled Roger Sampaio. Takhtay came back after a four-year layoff and still looked amazing. He landed seven takedowns and six came in the first round. Two of those in the first saw Takhtay lift Sampaio up in the air and slam him down. Takhtay also dropped Sampaio with a nasty body kick. He landed a lot of follow-up shots where the ref could have stepped in. In round two a takedown from Takhtay happened right away. Against the cage as Sampaio worked to his knees Takhtay was letting go with knees and punches and landed a knee that floored Sampaio. The ref was apparently wanting death so Takhtay spared the guy and had him tap to an RNC. The only takeaway from the performance was there was an illegal knee that landed that the ref missed.
Grade: A

Featherweight, Tae Kyun Kim (9-0)

This was a war between Kim and Nurzhan Akishev. Even though it was Kim on skates early it was Akishev that was barely clinging on in the final rounds. Akishev was snapping overhands and was landing as he had Kim in real trouble early. Kim just marched through every bomb staying in the face of Akishev but keeping at his preferred distance. With apparent ease, Kim landed the jab over and over. Everything he was throwing was straight punches; he would also get into the thai plum and land countless knees to the head. He had the face of Akishev a wreck with all the damage. Outstanding fight and a great performance.
Grade: A

Middleweight, Zachary Reese (2-0)

Reese didn’t have the toughest of challenges but was only 1-0 and looked good going to 2-0. He started off strong throwing a wheel kick but settled down and took control of the fight. In the clinch, he controlled the position and on the feet, he was landing well at range. He’s 6’3″ and he used every bit of it. In the clinch he used a hip throw and even though he didn’t get the takedown his opponent landed on his head. When he got back into the clinch Reese circled to the back and took his opponent down. That dude was finished and Reese took the back landing punches until the ref stepped in.
Grade: C+

Heavyweight, Alexander Soldatkin (10-3)

Soldatkin made easy work of his opponent stopping him inside a minute. He landed a jab, a body kick, and a short left hand that dropped his opponent. Soldatkin landed a barrage of hammer fists and the ref stepped in. Easy work for Soldatkin but his opponent sure didn’t look like a fighter.
Grade: C+

Welterweight, Benjamin Bennett (3-0)

Bennett made his LFA debut against another young undefeated prospect Elmar Umarov. Umarov land some good leg kicks and was creative throwing a lot of spinning attacks. Just the early and constant pressure from Bennett broke him. Bennett never seemed like he threw with power but focused on volume instead. He ripped the body/head frequently constantly putting Umarov against the cage. Bennett in round two landed a clubbing right that dropped Umarov. The extra ground and pound sent the ref in. It was a one-sided fight from the smack-talking Bennett.
Grade: C+

Heavyweight, Jimmy Lawson (3-1)

Since losing his debut Lawson has won his next three. To move to three consecutive wins it only took him thirteen seconds. It was a wild exchange and Lawson landed some bombs. His opponent was already finished against the cage and an extra right bomb put his lights out. It was sloppy but still nice.
Grade: C+

Flyweight, Charles Johnson (9-2)

This was a mauling from Johnson to retain the LFA interim flyweight championship. His opponent wanted nothing to do with Johnson on the feet so he kept shooting takedowns. He was even just falling to his back accepting Johnson on top. Johnson picked away on the feet and was following his opponent to the mat and dominated there as well. He did take Johnson down at the end of round one but Johnson reversed and got top position right into mount. The Brazilian was desperate to get the fight down in round two but was very sloppy. Johnson landed some heavy kicks, was landing straight punches and dropped the guy briefly with an uppercut. When he followed his opponent down Johnson just went off with ground and pound. The guy was just covering up and the ref finally stepped in. Johnson basically bullied another grown man around.
Grade: A+

Flyweight, Azamat Kerefov (15-0)

This was a great fight between Kerefov and Rasul Albaskhanov. Kerefov was taken down in round one and in round two was stumbled with a punch. He fought back every time he was in a bad position. Off his back, he threatened with armbars and was hitting reversals and getting on top. Kerefov’s hands looked really good attacking the body and head. Albaskhanov took Kerefov down in the third but Kerefov reversed and got on top. Albaskhanov got to his hands and knees and Kerefov rolled for an anaconda choke that put Albaskhanov out cold. Kerefov is arguably the best flyweight prospects in MMA.
Grade: A

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