MMA Prospect Watch: The Most Impressive Fighters from October

Luke Trainer, Bellator 267
Luke Trainer, Bellator 267 Credit: Bellator MMA

With the Contender Series full swing in October, there were a lot of eyeballs on MMA prospects from around the globe last month. But what of those who didn’t make it to Dana White’s show? Here’s a look at the rest of the top up-and-comers who fought last month.

Flyweight, Gerardo Fanny (11-2)

Liam Gittins is always a tough out for anyone and he took it to Fanny in their fight. Gittins pressured Fanny, took him down, landed a lot of output, and had the back a few times. I was so impressed with the composure from Fanny. Every time Fanny had space he was throwing power knees and his explosive base was on full display. Fanny kept landing those knees to the body and Giams was feeling it. In round two all of it added up and a knee to the body dropped Gittins and the ref stepped in. Fanny is a dangerous guy when you can’t put him away.
Grade: B+

Welterweight, Jesse Urholin (8-0)

Another dominant performance from Finland’s Urholin. Right away he got the fight down and alone in round one got three takedowns. It wasn’t until round two when Urholin got the finish but it was one-way traffic from the start. Urholin never needed a dominant position as he was aggressive with ground and pound from all positions. The ref eventually saw enough as the on-pour of ground and pound wasn’t gonna stop.
Grade: A+

Featherweight, Fabacary Diatta (8-0)

Diatta looked good in a fight that went the distance. Outside of three brief takedowns, Diatta won this fight off pure technical ability. Diatta fought smart throwing in combinations and throwing kicks behind his punches. Many times he landed kicks to the body of his opponent. The fight never came close to being finished but Diatta looked really good mixing it up and fighting smart.
Grade: B-

Light heavyweight, Luke Trainer (5-0)

This was a career performance from Luke Trainer, beating a dangerous guy in Yannick Bahati. The 6’6″ Trainer fought very smartly from the outside throwing long punches and kicks to the legs, body, and head. He mixed it up very well too. Trainer in round one got a takedown and hurt Bahati at the end of the round with a short left hook. He had his way with Bahati breaking him down. As soon as Trainer went into the clinch a nasty elbow is what ended the fight.
Grade: A+

Middleweight, Alfonso Leyva (4-0)

Leyva is an Olympic wrestler but it was all striking for him here. He even landed a beautiful throw from the body lock but stood right back up. Leyva dropped his opponent twice in round one with a switch knee and a right cross. He never jumped to try and finish but instead picked his spots. Round two it wasn’t long until Leyva dropped the guy with another right hand and his opponent tapped to survive. Really good performance but his opponent was terrible.
Grade: C+

Heavyweight, Caio Machado (6-1)

Machado did it again defending his BFL title for the second time. He didn’t fight a top level fighter but a veteran in Lee Mein. Machado right away had Mein covering up against the cage landed a flurry of hands and knees. The knees to the body were really affecting Mein. After some more knees later in the round Mein shot for a takedown and Machado defended. Machado gained top position, quickly transitioned into the mount, and locked in an armbar for the tap.
Grade: A-

Featherweight, Nicolas Ouellet (2-0)

Ouellet secured another first-round submission dating back to when he was an amateur. He quickly timed a well-executed takedown right away. He had his neck caught and got flipped over but flipped right back over on top. In side-control, Ouellet landed an elbow to the side of the head cutting his opponent. He tried to jump triangle but he slipped right out. Ouellet took the mount again and went to the back to secure the RNC.
Grade: B-

Lightweight, Mike Figlak (6-0)

Not an overexciting fight but this was a technical bout between Figlak and Kieran Lister. Figlak had impressive defense stuffing takedowns and slipping punches. Figlak did a fine job slipping punches and returning. He fought well in bursts and always threw in twos. He ripped the body a few times as well. What set Figlak apart was he was more active and precise with what he threw.

Welterweight, Mateusz Figlak (6-1)

Figlak was very aggressive from the start. As his opponent was throwing heavy he threw a kick that Figlak caught and got the takedown. From there in the guard Figlak made life difficult landing ground and pound. He cut his opponent having him visible hurt and was cut. The ground and pound had his opponent covering up and the ref stepped in.
Grade: B

Lightweight, George Hardwick (8-1)

A dominant performance from Hardwick against Jakub Dohnal who was 9-1 leading into this fight. Hardwick asserted himself right away with his hands. Throughout the fight he had wonderful bodywork ripping punches to the body. He dropped Dohnal with a clean left hook in round one. He didn’t find the finish until round two. In both rounds, Hardwick had a lot of success on the mat with top position and flowing on top. He dropped Dohnal again in round two with a left-right. With Dohnal on his knees Hardwick sunk in a tight guillotine to get his third submission win. All three submissions come from a guillotine.
Grade: A+

Flyweight, Phumi Nkuta (4-0)

A dominant performance from the CFFC champion making his first title defense. It was all Nkuta in this fight with his constant pressure and wrestling. He got the takedown every round set up from jerky movement and speed. Getting the takedowns came easy and ground and pound is what was won him the fight. Three separate times Nkuta got into the crucifix landing strikes. Taking a beating the ref saw enough in the fourth while in the crucifix the fight was stopped.
Grade: A

Heavyweight, Nyle Bartling (5-0)

One of the best heavyweight prospects out of the U.S., Nyle Bartling gets another easy win. He threw an overhand right to a takedown right away. Bartling got to work with a ton of ground and pound before transitioning to the mount. His opponent tried to roll him over but the base of Bartling was strong. He actually took the back and it was a RNC he got the finish with. That’s his third submission win as a pro and his first RNC.
Grade: A-

Lightweight, Marshal Kemp (4-0)

Kemp wasted no time getting in and out. He threw a kick to a takedown in the opening 15-seconds. Kemp got into half-guard and his opponent tried to turn it but very smoothly Kemp took the back. Right away Kemp put in that RNC and his opponent tapped. Some slick jiu-jitsu from the Glory MMA product.
Grade: B-

Featherweight, Anzor Chakaev (5-0)

Chakaev, a free-style wrestling champion, dominated his fight with his wrestling. It went all three rounds and basically it was him getting a takedown and dominating on top. Chakaev was riding out the position in the guard. It wasn’t until round thee when Chakaev was passing guard and unloading ground and pound. The fight was a bit boring but a dominant one.
Grade: C

Middleweight, Sharaputdin Magomedov (6-0)

Magomedov is extremely dangerous on the feet so his opponent closed the distance quickly. He held Magomedov against the cage for a good while. That was until Magomedov went off with an elbow and a series of knees. That caused separation and Magomedov was landing a lot of kicks. His opponent came forward to close the distance only to walk into a brutal elbow. Perfectly placed by the Russian prospect.
Grade: A

Middleweight, Vladimir Mineev (16-1)

This was an anticipated rematch between Mineev and Magomed Ismailov. The first two rounds were Ismailov getting takedowns and pummeling his foe with ground and pound. Round three Ismailov was dead tired and Mineev poured it on. Mineev threw a lot of kicks and punches behind the kicks making it difficult for Ismailov. Ismailov got another takedown but was too tired to hold Mineev down. Mineev got Ismailov against the cage landed elbows and knees and melted Ismailov until the ref stepped in.
Grade: B

Flyweight, Bekhzod Usmonov (9-3)

Tajikistan fighter Usmonov improved his win streak to four. While this fight did go the distance it doesn’t mean Usmonov played it safe. In fact, Usmonov basically chased his opponent and never took a back step. He did really well exploding forward with heavy body kicks, letting his hands fly. Never over-pursuing as Usmonov was in and out drawing right out of the way and returning. He dominated the fight and looked really good.
Grade: A

Lightweight, Mateusz Rębecki (14-1)

Rebecki continues to run through his competition. It only took Rebecki 15-seconds to storm across the cage and connect. It was a left hook that folded his opponent and the follow-up shots sent the ref stepped in. That made his eleven-fight win streak and his sixth FEN title defense.
Grade: A+

Light heavyweight, Sullivan Cauley (2-0)

Cauley, still young in his career, stays undefeated with another impressive win. His opponent tried relentlessly to take Cauley down. Cauley wasn’t having it and was making him pay landing in the clinch. The golden gloves boxer let his hands go especially with that right hand. He stayed busy throwing off of defending takedowns. A right hand badly wobbled his opponent and the standing TKO came in the final seconds of round one.
Grade: B