Weekly MMA Prospect Report: Cage Warriors, LFA, Plus ARES Returns

Kenneth Cross
Kenneth Cross Credit: XFC

Cage Warriors and LFA are among the notable organizations in action this week. Plus, after a long pandemic-induced absence, ARES Fighting Championship returns to action this week. We’ve got our prospect picks ready for another busy week in MMA action.

WCC 003 | Thursday | Peru

Bantamweight, Renzo Mendez (16-6)

Mendez has had a lot of setbacks in his career already with six losses. However, he’s currently on an eight-fight win streak. “El Nene” on the feet is a banger. He loves to let his hands go, going head-hunting with big looping punches and head kicks. He’s super aggressive the entire fight. His takedown defense does need work but off his back his jiu-jitsu is strong. On top or off his back he has shown good grappling. He fights Gabriel Castro (6-5).

EFC 43 | Thursday | Russia

Lightweight, Mehdi Dakaev (13-2)

Dakaev made a statement when he won the EFC title beating Khabib Nurmagomedov’s teammate Gadzhi Rabadanov. His striking has come a long way. He throws a good jab and strong straight punches. Dakaev is a solid wrestler and an even better grappler once on top. He’s well-rounded and has a deep gas tank. He fights Makkasharip Zaynukov (11-3).

Middleweight, Faridun Odilov (12-2-2)

Odilov has fought at welterweight, light heavyweight, and now at middleweight. The native out of Tajikistan has won his last five fights. Odilov is a strong physical guy who is capable of ending the fight at anytime. He’s a good wrestler being good at timing his shots off kicks. On top his ground and pound have shown to be his best weapon. Along with some strong grappling, he’s a huge threat on the mat. He fights Enoc Solves Torres (26-10-1).

LUX Fight League 19 | Friday | Mexico

Middleweight, Iván Valenzuela (7-1)

I’m not fully sold on Valenzuela but can’t deny the run he’s been on. He’s won four fights in a row. All seven of his wins come in the first round. On the feet he kicks hard and is a dangerous muay thai fighter. His takedown defense usually gets tested but he has three guillotine wins. On the mat, there is also a threat of ground and pound. So many uncertainties though. Valenzuela fights Ricardo Centeno (9-6).

Cage Warriors 131 | Friday | UK

Middleweight, Djati Melan (7-0)

Fighting for the first time in almost two years Melan is definitely someone to watch for out of France. His striking is a bit better but still progressing, though he makes up for it with wrestling chops. He’s a really strong wrestler with a pressure heavy attack. Melan can do it all fight too with an endless gas tank. He has good ground and pound, strong top position, and is overall a really good grappler. Melan has a good future. He fights Matthew Bonner (10-6).

Lightweight, George Hardwick (8-1)

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 Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar (5-0-1).

Lightweight, Mehdi Ben Lakhdhar (5-0-1)

Lakhdhar is a Muay Thai fighter with all-around skills on the feet. He’s good at picking his shots, flipping the jab, and firing uppercuts with just a nice flow to his output. His takedown defense does need some improvement but has already shown some, developing rather quickly. He fights George Hardwick (8-1).

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 Justin Moore (10-5).

FAC 11 | Friday | US

Lightweight, Evan Elder (6-0)

Elder is a young kid at 24-years-old with a high ceiling. His level of competition as a pro is weak but he’s performed as expected. He’s at his best once on the mat and the wrestling to get there has been solid thus far. Elder has solid transitional grappling moving freely on top being very glue-like as well. He has good ground and pound that eventually leads to him finishing with a submission. Elder is also pretty good on the feet with good output and mixing in strikes and kicks together well with solid footwork. He fights Marcus Andrusia (9-16).

Featherweight, Isaac Dulgarian (3-0)

Undefeated as a pro, 4-0 as an amateur, and an NCAA Division II wrestler Dulgarian has looked great. It’s been rinse and repeat for Dulgarian getting the takedown, moving into the mount or back and finishing the fight. He wastes no time exploiting his style. Dulgarian has smashing ground and pound and really glides on top with his grappling. Some answers need to come but with how he’s looked the ceiling is high. He fights Ray Ostrander (1-1).

Heavyweight, Nyle Bartling (5-0)

Bartling grew up wrestling. He was a three-time state qualifier and claimed the district title three times. Outside of wrestling his freshman year for Ohio State, he wrestled his last three years of college for the University of Nebraska. Wrestling is what his style is in MMA. He doesn’t waste any time closing the distance and powering guys down. The technique into the takedowns isn’t great yet but his finish ability is solid. On top he’s a strong guy with a strong base and has shown the ability to stop the fight by submission and ground and pound. Bartling fights Anthony Garrett (6-5).

LFA 120 | Friday | US

Flyweight, Jamey-Lyn Horth Wessels (4-0)

Wessels hasn’t fought in nearly two years but lastly, beat Jade Masson-Wong for the BFL title. That win and the performance put her as the best female Canadian prospect at the moment. There isn’t really a lot of footage on Wessels, but those who have seen her compete live, the word is she’s top-notch. Basically pressure, wrestling, and a solid work rate are what she brings to the cage. She fights Mayra Cantuária (9-3-1).

Flyweight, Tony Laramie (5-2)

From the start Laramie didn’t cut any corners. His pro debut was against Keith Lee, the brother of  Kevin Lee. He did suffer two consecutive losses but those were against two good fighters. Laramie is now on a three-fight win streak. Even though he hasn’t fought great competition lately he’s fighting opponents with a lot of experience. Tony is also the younger brother of UFC fighter TJ Laramie. Laramie is a super impressive young athlete that’s still a student of the sport. He fights Tyus White (4-0).

XFC YoungGuns 4 | Friday | US

Lightweight, Kenneth Cross (12-3)

Cross is a fast starter who is very explosive. He’s got good movement with a dangerous left hand and is super athletic. With all that, he can wrestle well and grind as he has a physical advantage over most guys. His cardio is still a work in progress but overall a fun guy. He fights Jose Martinez (12-5).

Bantamweight, Austin Bashi (4-0)

Bashi is a young 20-year-old out of Michigan that has a lot of promise. His wrestling is his bread and butter. He can put his wrestling on his opponents all fight going three rounds three times. All over his opponents with fluid grappling and a strong base. The wrestling is top notch. Bashi fights Reshal Malik (3-3-1).

Ares FC 2 | Friday | France

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 Luciano Contini (13-3).

Welterweight, Louis Glismann (8-2)

Glismann is a top-notch grappler out of Denmark. From the start of the fight, Glismann is very aggressive getting the fight to the mat right away. With a high work ethic in the jiu-jitsu department, Glismann is constantly working to improve position. He’s a high-level grappler easily passing guard and flowing on top. He has good ground and pound and is a really dangerous submission threat. He fights former UFC fighter Emil Weber Meek (9-5).

Welterweight, Felix Klinkhammer (6-0)

Klinkhammer is another product out of London Shootfighters who is an unorthodox fighter. He’s a very tricky fighter with a divers kickboxing attack. He can be a little too flashy with the spinning attacks more. Klinkhammer excels on the mat as four of his six wins come by submission. He has aggressive jiu-jitsu, good ground and pound, and as diverse he is on the feet he’s even more so on the mat. Klinkhammer fights Karim Rabei (6-2).

Octagon 26 & Gorilla MMA Series 46 | Friday | Kazakhstan

Flyweight, Azat Maksum (13-0)

Maksum is a talented pin-point striker with an underrated ground game. Patient on the feet Maksum uses a lot of feints waiting for his opening. He does a lot of stabbing on the outside with the jab picking guys apart. It’s all to set up a power punch or a takedown. Maksum is a bright prospect out of Kazakhstan. He fights Aziretaly Jumabek Uulu (7-2).

Slam FC Underdog 4 | Saturday | Italy

Featherweight, Michele Baiano (5-0)

Baiano stood out to me and many others when he knocked out Nizar Ben Amara who had eyes on him. He’s a slick striker that holds a lot of power, speed, and technique. Baiano has good straight punches and is an excellent pull-counter striker. He throws a lot of kicks mixing it up as well. Footage does lack so there is still be more to be seen. Baiano fights Manolo Zecchini (9-2).

Cage Warriors 132 | Saturday | UK

Bantamweight, Dominique Wooding (8-4)

Wooding just beat Nathan Fletcher for the Cage Warriors title which is a huge win. He has a lot of good experience too fighting good fighters and spent some time in Bellator. Wooding is a dynamic explosive fighter that is insanely quick and athletic. He can finish the fight at any time. Exciting to watch and still only 25-years-old so the sky is the limit. He fights Carlos Abreu (9-3).

Welterweight, Mateusz Figlak (6-1)

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 Kent Kauppinen (13-6).

Lightweight, Mike Figlak (6-0)

Like his brother Matt, Mike Figlak is well-rounded. He’s knocked guys out, won via ground and pound, went the distance, and won by subs as an amateur. He brings pressure, volume, and composure every time he competes. Figlak is a fierce striker. The power isn’t necessarily the danger as it’s the volume and combinations he throws. Figlak is frequently attacking and does so from different angles and always throws something different. He sometimes strays away from it but his bodywork is wonderful. He mixes it into combinations going body-head. Maybe not as exciting on the feet his ground game is just as good. He fights Stevie McIntosh (7-2).

Flyweight, Lone’er Kavanagh (2-0)

Kavanagh competed in K-1 and is a five-time world champion. He’s brought every single bit of that into his MMA career. Kavanagh is a very skilled and intriguing young man. Where he’s best at is unequivocally on the feet. He’s light on his feet, doing a lot of bouncing around. Kavanagh is excessively fast specifically with his movement, hands, and his legs. He’s such a flashy guy and he doesn’t telegraph his strikes at all. Kavanagh is a true 125-er that brings speed, athleticism, explosiveness, and a recurrent rapid pace. He fights Maximilien Vallot (4-3).

Dominium Fighter Championship 8 | Brazil | Saturday

Feathweight, Márcio dos Santos (10-0)

Santos has been very active fighting three times this year. No feeling out process as Santos gets right after it. All but one of his fights have come by finish and a few of those have been in under a minute. Santos has bombs in his hands and is very athletic. He doesn’t shy away from a brawl and so far that’s played a huge part of his success. Santos fights Luis Felipe (15-7).

Combate | US | Sunday

Bantamweight, Frans Mlambo (10-5)

Mlambo doesn’t have the most appealing record but is battle-tested no doubt. He’s fought a lot of good fighters, took four fights for Bellator, and was an IMMAF world champion. Mlambo is an excellent boxer. His hands are really sharp and has a good understanding of his shot placement. His takedown defense has been his issue but his grappling is no joke. Mlambo is a threat at taking the neck when takedowns are being attempted. Very underrated fighter. He fights Jose Zarauz (22-8-1).

Bantamweight, Kevin Cordero (12-2)

Cordero is an absolute action fighter that comes out with the same aggression every time he fights. Cordero is a scrapper. He’ll sit in the pocket and let his hands go and kick the lead leg. Both his right and left hand are dangerous and he doesn’t let up with his volume. He’s a problem on the feet and all that pressure will force opponents to shoot. That’s an issue itself because Cordero is even better on the mat. His offensive wrestling is good as well and holds six submissions. Overall he’s a dangerous guy all around and never in a boring fight. He fights Luciano Ramos (8-6).


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