Weekly MMA Prospect Report: Bumper Batch of Bellator Up-and-Comers

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Aaron Pico Bellator MMA
Aaron Pico, Bellator 252 Credit: Bellator MMA

If there is one thing Bellator MMA has done very, very well under Scott Coker, it’s scouting and signing top-flight prospects. That is evidenced once again with Friday’s Bellator 271, which sees names like Cody Law, Steve Mowry, Aaron Pico, Justin Gonzales and more in action.

Let’s get to those and other prospects in action this week!

ACA Young Eagles 22 | Russia | Thursday

Flyweight, Akhmed Khamzaev (6-0)

Khamzaev is one of the best 125’ers out of Russia. He has won via knockout and submission proving he’s well-versed in all areas. Khamzaev has good footwork cutting off the cage along with his forward movement. There isn’t a ton of footage but the tape available suggests he’s one to watch for. He fights Shabdan Sarykov (5-0).

ONE Championship | Singapore | Friday

Lightweight, Kai Tang (12-2)

Tang is someone that jumped out to me recently and his style is something I like very much. I believe he comes from a muay thai base and if so you can tell. Tang is a rangy fighter who will fight on the outside the entire time. He has a well-executed jab, nice leg kicks, and is so good at striking going backward. Tang is a sniper from the outside whether that’s with his legs or his fists. Not only a striker he will shoot for takedowns and is solid with his grappling. Tang has a wide toolset and I believe he’s the real deal. He fights Chang Min Yoon (5-1).

Bellator 271 | US | Friday

Heavyweight, Tyrell Fortune (11-1)

Fortune has an accomplished background in wrestling, as an NCAA Division II champion, and a multi-time high school state champion. His stand-up is improving; he has some power, is pretty good in the clinch, and has a stunning straight right he throws. When Fortune does get the takedown, he’s shown he’s knowledgeable in the top position and possesses some very effective ground and pound, which is one of his best assets. He just recently beat the well-known Matt Mitrione. Fortune fights Linton Vassell (21-8).

Featherweight, Aaron Pico (8-3)

Pico has competed in folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman wrestling, winning a championship in all three. He has competed in multiple wrestling-based matches and has become very successful. Pico also has a background in boxing, winning many belts and also being named Junior Golden Gloves champion in 2009. Pico has had a few setbacks already but is back on a four-fight win streak. He has excellent boxing techniques with power and precision. Also, he has high-level wrestling. Pico has the overall skill set to be champion one day. He fights Justin Gonzales (12-0).

Featherweight, Justin Gonzales (12-0)

Undefeated as a pro, Gonzales also went undefeated as an amateur at 9-0. Gonzales has always been an excellent wrestler and was an All-American, but he’s been adding a lot of striking to his resume. J-Train could use better footwork, but he stays aggressive and has good right and left hooks. He really just uses strikes to set up takedowns. Overall, I think he’s good, but there is still room for improvement. He fights Aaron Pico (8-3).

Heavyweight, Steve Mowry (8-0)

Standing at 6’9″, Mowry has all the tools to be a dangerous guy at heavyweight. Training out of Sanford MMA the 28-year-old has plenty of time to develop into a more complete fighter. 9-0 as a pro, Mowry went 7-0 as an amateur with six wins by submission. He has some things to work on including his striking, which is improving, but overall he does a good job and stays long. Still, he is more effective in the clinch with knees. He has solid wrestling, being at his best once on the mat. And once there he has good jiu-jitsu for a big guy. He fights Rakim Cleveland (22-13-1).

You can catch our exclusive interview with “Tall” Steve here.

Welterweight, Roman Faraldo (5-0)

Faraldo is mainly a striker as he is hardly ever on the mat from the footage available. Faraldo has knockout power, precision, and timing. He can overextend on his punches but has never been caught. For the most part, Faraldo will sit on the outside with long punches and catch his opponents coming in. At any time he can explode and shut the lights out with his hands, kicks, and knees. I’m not sold fully but he’s looked mighty dangerous. He fights Robert Turnquest (11-7).

Featherweight, Cody Law (4-0)

Between 2018-2020 Cody Law was one of the best amateur prospects as he went 5-0 before going pro. Bellator didn’t pass up the opportunity to sign Law right as he decided to turn pro in October of 2020. Law has looked outstanding. Law is light on his feet, and throws frequent combinations as his hands are improving along the way. Law has top-notch wrestling and the work he does on top is impressive. He has smashing active ground and pound, good positional grappling, and has a dangerous ability to attack the neck. He fights Colton Hamm (4-3).

Welterweight, Mahmoud Fawzy Sebie (2-0)

Sebie came over from wrestling where he had an excellent career. He was a two-time Olympian, a four-time Arab wrestling champion, a five-time Africa wrestling champion, and a former Egyptian National Team member. In all three of his fights including a custom rules bout, Sebie has looked unstoppable. The longest fight he’s had is 1:52. Sebie wastes no time rushing his opponents, getting the easy takedown, and smashing with ground and pound until the ref steps in. He’s been nothing short of dominant since retiring from wrestling and entering MMA. Sebie fights Ethan Hughes (2-0).

LFA 118 | US | Friday

Strawweight, Jaqueline Amorim (4-0)

Amorim is a highly touted jiu-jitsu ace that made the transition to MMA not even a year ago. Some of her accomplishments in BJJ are IBJJF World Champion, IBJJF World No-Gi Champion, CBJJ Brasil Champion, and more. So far Amorim has easily closed the distance, got the takedown, moved to a dominant position, and finished with a sub. Her first three finishes are by submission and all three by different subs. Not just a jiu-jitsu player Amorim scored a 10-second knockout from the right hand in her last fight. She fights Loveth Young (3-1-1).

Strawweight, Loveth Young (3-1-1)

Young is already 32 and doesn’t have an appealing record. With that said, her sole loss came to current UFC fighter Vanessa Demopoulos, and she arguably won that fight. Young won by submission in her first pro win but is a cerebral striker. Among all strawweights, Young has some of the biggest knockout power in her hands. Everything she throws is to knock you out. As she is a head hunter she will switch up her angles and goes to the body well. She fights Jaqueline Amorim (4-0).

Combate Global | US | Friday

Lightweight, Cristian Perez (6-0)

Perez has been quietly flowing under the radar for the Combate Global promotion. This year alone he’s had three fights and three impressive first-round finishes. The young 26-year-old Mexican always brings it and brings a well-rounded skillset. Yet while he is well-rounded, his five finishes come by the way of submission. Although his wrestling/takedowns have looked good Perez has sat guys down from head kicks and his hands. With his relentless pressure and his aggressiveness once the fight hits the mat he’s a true finisher. Perez gets after it as his frantic pace is an issue for anyone he steps across the cage from. He fights Daniel Soto (6-5).

Fury FC 53 | US | Sunday

Lightweight, JJ Okanovich (8-2)

Okanovich has a lot of good experience, fighting and winning on the Contender Series and going 5-0 under the Bellator MMA banner. He’s a product out of American Kickboxing Academy growing in each fight. Okanovich isn’t the most technical fighter as he gets by with his toughness. He’s a decent wrestler, has a good submission game, is active on the feet, and has a good gas tank. Okanovich recently beat a top prospect in Anthony Romero putting his name at the top of the list. He fights Trey Ogden (14-4).

Bantamweight, Mo Miller (5-0)

Miller is going to be fighting for the first time since his stint on the Contender Series this past season. A fight that had the majority of the fans left scratching their head given Dana White’s decision to pass on the fighter. Miller has a background as a wrestler being a three-time All-American at Notre Dame. Of course, Miller has good wrestling but he does have some bright spots on the feet. He throws a good one-two and his right hand is dangerous. Miller has the style to go far with his patient but technical approach on the feet and some solid wrestling to dominate a fight with. He’s fighting Johnny Campbell (21-14).

Middleweight, Joseph Holmes (6-1)

Like Mo Miller, Holmes is another snub from the past season of the Contender Series. Holmes unlike Miller was able to finish his fight but still didn’t get a contract. Since losing his pro debut Holmes has won his next six fights. Holmes is a rangy fighter with a good jab and a nice one-two. He also has a pretty good ground game as shown in his Contender Series fight. He took the guy down easy, took the back, and finished with the rear-naked choke. Holmes actually has four wins by RNC and three of those came in his last three fights. Also, a guillotine is in there as well so attacking the neck he does so well at. He fights Jhonoven Pati (6-5).

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