Weekly MMA Prospect Report: European Talent On Deck

Leah McCourt, Bellator 259
Leah McCourt, Bellator 259 weigh-in Credit: Bellator MMA

Some of Europe’s brightest MMA prospects get their chance to shine this week, as Bellator hits London, and Cage Warriors hosts a trio of events.

Cage Warriors 127 | UK | Thursday

Bantamweight, Nathan Fletcher (6-0)

Fletcher is a young fighter with whom I am very impressed with. Combined as a pro and amateur he’s 13-1 with ten finishes. His striking is a work in progress but right now is a bit stiff. He has a good ground game and is a stellar wrestler though. Fletcher has a strong body lock takedown and on top, he’s a tactical grappler with seamless transitions. Overall such a good grappler and wrestler. He fights Dominique Wooding (7-4).

Middleweight, Christian Leroy Duncan (4-0)

Undefeated as a pro, Duncan had an extensive amateur career mostly for IMMAF. He went 17-6 as an amateur before going pro, where he’s been excelling. All that experience has made Duncan into a well-rounded top prospect out of the UK. On the feet Duncan is known for his diverse, tricky style. He’s always throwing flashy spinning attacks but he’s done a good job setting it all up. Both his hands and legs are very dangerous. He’s always throwing something different and is tough to read. Duncan is a solid wrestler and grappler as well. He needs work with takedown defense but can very well hold his own and not to mention he’s a submission threat. Duncan fights John Martin Fraser (5-2).

Bellator 267 | UK | Friday

Featherweight, Leah McCourt (5-1)

After losing her pro debut then winning her next five, Leah McCourt is a good prospect. She even has a win over UFC’s Manon Fiorot. Not much on the feet as her full intention is to get the fight to the mat. To get it to the mat McCourt uses some wonderful judo. Her grappling is good, and getting into the mount and unloading ground and pound is something she does well. McCourt will fight Jessica Borga (3-3).

Light heavyweight, Luke Trainer (4-0)

Luke Trainer might be only 4-0 but is quietly a top light heavyweight prospect. The physical specimen standing at 6’6″ has all the tools to make an impact in the 205-pound division. He knows how to control the fight at his distance with the front kicks, jabs, and straight punches. Trainer is a decent wrestler and his grappling is where he excels. It’s somewhere where his length really shines being able to transition easily and lock in submissions. He fights Yannick Bahati (9-5).

Bantamweight, Khurshed Kakhorov (7-0)

Kakhorov is a chaos fighter that brings pressure and power. He has a 100% finish rate with six wins by KO/TKO. Everything Kakhorov throws is with everything he has. Kakhorov can end the fight with his hands, knees, elbows, kicks, and ground and pound. He’ll throw a bit wild but puts everything together rapidly. Kakhorov is just an ultra dangerous guy that could catch you at any point. He fights Jair Junior (6-2).

Cage Warriors 128 | UK | Friday

Lightweight, Paul Hughes (7-1)

Eight months ago Hughes lost for the first time to now CW champ Jordan Vucenic. A few months ago he got back on the board handing James Hendin his first loss. Hughes has looked stellar in his pro career and although he’s still young he has the skills of an established fighter. Hughes has three TKO’s and three submissions showing he’s very well-rounded. On the feet, Hughes has good boxing. The accuracy and shot selection are there and so is some big power. He’s an even better wrestler and has exceptional grappling. Hughes looks like the real deal. He fights Morgan Charriere (16-8-1).

Welterweight, Jesse Urholin (7-0)

No doubt in the grappling realm Urholin is in his wheelhouse. The Finland native is a BJJ black belt and arguably the best grappler out of the Nordic area. He’s won medals at the IBJJF European Open, ADCC trials, was an ADCC European Champion in 2015 and 2017, and was an ADCC World qualifier those same two years. Urholin is very good in the grappling department, but his ground and pound are also fierce. Which makes Urholin a feared grappler, as if he isn’t putting you out with a submission he will smash you with punches and elbows. To complement his grappling he does have good wrestling usually utilizing takedowns from the clinch. He fights John Palaiologos (18-9-1).

BFL 69 | Canada | Friday

Heavyweight, Caio Machado (5-1)

Current BFL heavyweight champion Machado is on the verge of a UFC call-up. For heavyweight he’s fought decent competition. Not UFC-level competition but heavy hitters. His chin has been tested and moving his head off the centerline is a problem. What he possesses is a good chin and heavy hands himself. Machado is capable of catching guys coming in as he has light footwork and good timing. He’s also solid in the clinch having a background in Muay Thai. Offensively he’s fine but defensively he needs some work. He fights Randy McCarty (6-12).

Cage Warriors 129 | UK | Saturday

Flyweight, Luke Shanks (7-2)

Shanks is an aggressive fighter who is a wrestler first. On the feet, Shanks hits hard but everything he does is to close the distance. With strong wrestling, he has a strong top position. He has solid ground and pound and early in his pro career, he started 3-0 with three submission wins. Shanks has a deep gas tank and that is where his pressure has just broken opponents so far. His only loss is to arguably the best flyweight prospect Jake Hadley. Shanks fights Sam Creasey (14-3).

Welterweight, Mateusz Figlak (5-1)

Figlak’s only loss is to former Cage Warriors champ and current UFC fighter Ian Garry. Figlak to me is a future Cage Warriors champ and UFC fighter himself. He’s well rounded and has finished by KO/TKOs and submissions. On the feet Figlak throws a lot of heavy kicks especially attacking a lead leg. He’s a smooth striker that throws combinations in angles. He’s also really good in the clinch with his knees. Figlak as he is well-rounded he’s arguably better at using his wrestling and ground game. He has impressive ground and pound and that’s complemented his submission attack. I’ve been really impressed with this guy since his last loss. He fights Joachim Tollefsen (5-3-1).

Lightweight, George Hardwick (7-1)

No matter where the fight takes Hardwick he’s going to be comfortable. He’s all about volume on the feet throwing slick combinations to the body and head. Surgical on the inside with his hands and elbows in the clinch he will chop the legs at distance. Hardwick can wrestle as well. He can get takedowns on the legs and from the upper body. His jiu-jitsu is slick. He smoothly takes the back and right away locks in the body triangle. As a pro he’s really good at finding the neck of his opponent. Hardwick fights Jakub Dohnal (9-1).