MMA Prospect Roundtable 2023: Which Up-and-Comers Are UFC-Ready?

Salahdine Parnasse KSW
Salahdine Parnasse Credit: KSW

Zach Harkness was one of the first people I came to about helping me with this piece. Zach is one of the most underrated minds to follow when it comes to prospect coverage. The scouting reports he does on his Twitter is excellent work. Give him a follow on Twitter now!

Salahdine Parnasse, (17-1), KSW: This addition is an absolute no-brainer. Parnasse has long been held in incredibly high regard by MMA analysts. Parnasse has been a dominant force in KSW since 2017, avenging his lone freak loss in impressive fashion. While quite well-rounded, Parnasse excels on the ground, as he brings a potent submission threat paired with a nice array of takedowns. In a featherweight division that desperately needs new blood, Parnasse’s skillset and pedigree would immediately earmark him as one of the division’s brightest prospects. With an unbelievable upside, it makes little sense to let Parnasse waste his prime years not fighting the best competition. Plus, after losing out on Doumbé and Ngannou, the UFC could do with a new French face. If Parnasse wins his next fight, a bout that would see him become KSW double champ, the promotion would be remiss to not sign him immediately.
Muslim Magomedov, (12-0), ACA: The UFC’s light heavyweight division is in absolute dire straits. This wasteland of a division does not see fresh talent come through it very often, so signing Magomedov seems like a necessity. Magomedov is an interesting fighter, almost certainly a natural middleweight, Magomedov carries a bit of extra weight on him that allows him to fight as a light heavyweight. This gives him many advantages. He has very quick hands for a light heavyweight and is not afraid to throw in combination. He takes the front foot often and exhausts his opponents with relentless pressure. He himself is tireless, putting a high pace on his opponents and dragging them into deep waters with his grappling. He has strong takedowns and crippling top pressure. His skillset would cross over nicely to the UFC and I would expect him to make noise in the UFC’s light heavyweight division.
Khalid Satuev, (13-0), ACA: Lightweight is a division that is currently stacked with talent, but it could always use a lot more. Satuev is a hidden gem of a prospect, a hyper-athletic range striker who is equally competent in the clinch, Satuev presents a nightmarish puzzle for any opponents that are unfortunate enough to be matched with him. His striking arsenal is incredibly unique, as he utilizes hyper-accurate spinning back kicks, solid 1-2 combinations, clinch knees to the body, and solid range calf kicks. Satuev is ridiculously athletic, he would be already one of the fastest lightweights on the UFC roster if he was signed. His amazing physical strength also enhances his defensive wrestling, meaning taking him down is not a guaranteed path to victory. He also has an offensive wrestling game, meaning that he is a super well-rounded offensive threat who will cause fits to many on the UFC roster.
Luciano Pereira, (13-1), Samurai Fight House: Sometimes a prospect can be signed not because they have championship upside, but because they will inject the division with a new life. That is exactly what Luciano Pereira would do to the UFC’s flyweight division. At only 22 years old, Pereira has been steamrolling his way through the South American regional circuit. While he does show weaknesses on the defensive front, his offensive dynamism cannot be ignored. Pereira fights like his hair is on fire, ruthlessly blitzing his opponents and swinging wildly inciting panicked responses. This works due to his tremendous power, as he would immediately be one of if not the hardest hitters in the division. His fights are always high-octane, exciting, and end in glorious results. His weaknesses may prevent him from being a serious contender but his entertainment factor will make him a fan favorite.
Abdysalam Kubanychbek, (20-3), BRAVE: Another lightweight addition, Kubanychbek is one of the most experienced and tested lightweights that most people have never heard of. The BRAVE CF Lightweight Champion has already amassed a very strong resume across BRAVE and ACA, meaning he has no shortage of strong competition. Kubanychbek has five-round cardio that has been tested repeatedly which pairs nicely with his fighting style. Kubanychbek is a crushing grappler, weaponizing his forward pressure to chain into an admittedly nice takedown arsenal. His top pressure is also outstanding, as he is very good at keeping his opponents on the mat. He brings strong ground and pound as well, leading to a death sentence for anyone he manages to bring down. He is also a serviceable striker, as he can hold his own on the feet with superior strikers and he does not seem too completely out of his element. Kubanychbek is in his prime and can make a decent run in the UFC’s lightweight division.