For the first time ever, we’re handing out year-end awards to the best MMA prospects, giving credit to fighters on the regional scene. These awards will spotlight deserving prospects who put their time and body on the line in the year of 2022.
In part two we are giving out awards to the best representative from each continent. Here are the names who we feel had the best year from every corner of the globe.
North American prospect of the year: Austin Bashi (8-0)
With North America, there was no question that Austin Bashi was going to be featured. He started off the year winning the Shamrock FC title and ended the year winning the Lights Out Championship title and won a fight in between. Beating Chris San Jose, Erion Zekthi, and Joe Penafiel all in one year is pretty good for small regional competitions. The only downfall is the lack of fight footage/exposure but the resume has been building up. Not a bad year for the young 21-year-old fighter.
South American prospect of the year: Bruno Lopes (11-0)
This is the second award Lopes has earned in this three-part series. As stated in part one, light heavyweight had a better year than heavyweight but to me, Bruno Lopes was the clear winner among them all. This year he went 3-0 made his debut for LFA going 2-0. Lopes is coming off the biggest win in his career after winning the vacant LFA 205-pound title in September. Lopes was away from the sport for six years until he made his comeback last year, and has gone on a tear since. Years ago, Lopes fought at welterweight and was the Jungle Fight champion. Now, he’s at light heavyweight where he’s right at home. Lopes already might be signed to a major promotion but we don’t know it yet. Either way, it shouldn’t be long before he lands in the big leagues.