TUF 25 Could Be A Welterweight All Stars Season…Potential Casts.

It had been rumored that UFC would cancel the Ultimate Fighter reality show, however, it look like the show may see a 25th season.  MMA Junkie reported that a 25th season would begin filming in January and could be an all star season featuring welterweight fighters.  I am not certain what that means exactly.  I suppose it could be a season like the 4th season which was a “Comeback” season.  That season featured Matt Serra and Travis Lutter winning title shots and ultimately saw Matt Serra win the UFC belt against Georges St. Pierre.

Here is what a TUF 25 comeback season could look like in terms of cast

  • Colton Smith
  • Dhiego Lima
  • Yuri Villefort
  • Paul Bradley
  • Jason Jackson
  • Hayder Hassan
  • Eddie Gordon
  • Matt Dwyer
  • Chuck O’Neil
  • Dom Waters
  • Mike Ricci
  • Ramsey Nijem
  • Jonavin Webb

I would prefer a season similar to the current season.  The 16 flyweight cast members are all champions of other organizations.  UFC could seek out some of the best welterweights to add to the roster.  A cast could look like this:

  • Dhiego Lima (Titan)
  • Jason Jackson (Titan title challenger)
  • Brian Camozzi (RFA)
  • Khusein Khaliev (Global Proving Ground)
  • Alexei Kunchenko (M1 Global)
  • Borys Mankowski (KSW)
  • Handesson Ferreira (Jungle Fight)
  • Mukhamed Berkhamov (Tech Krep)
  • Chris Curtis (CES)
  • Manny Walo (CFFC)
  • Ben Egli (KOTC)

Obviously, some of the champions of other organizations cannot just leave and go to UFC due to exclusive contracts.  However, UFC could find a great cast of the top welterweights outside the UFC.  They don’t all have to be champions, but just say they are going to find the best non-UFC welterweights.  Target guys like Karl Amoussou and others who would be nice additions to the roster.  Even prospects like Logan Storley would be solid.

16 in ’16: The Light Heavyweights

The Light Heavyweight division in MMA has long been one of the most popular divisions with the fans.  However, many of those once popular fighters are stepping away in retirement.  While the division is not as talent rich with prospects as some of the lighter divisions, I believe that there are some future stars among this list.  We will see some future UFC and Bellator contenders emerge.  It seems like as we go up in weight the more prominent the Russian prospects are as you will see here.

  1. Mikhail Mokhnatkin – 8-1-1 – 26 years old – Russia

Mokhnatkin is the best light heavyweight prospect currently.  He is the right mix of skills and age to be a hot mikhail_mokhnatkin_newcommodity.  Not only that he is high level prospect in one of the weaker divisions in the sport.  Mikhail already has an impressive resume which includes a recent win over UFC veteran Fabio Maldonado. He has a solid all around game that really begins with solid grappling and wrestling ability.  He has strong and powerful takedowns, where he really showcases his athletic ability.  He has decent submission ability.  Mikhail, like many Russians has a background in combat sambo.  When he gets on top of an opponent, he is difficult to handle.  On the feet, he is solid.  He really did well standing in his fight against Fabio Maldonado.  Mokhnatkin is a southpaw fighter, which could pose additional problems for some opponents.  I believe that it would benefit him to be a little more aggressive on his feet.  There were instances of Mikhail being very passive in the striking.  Mokhnatkin has fought several fights above the light heavyweight class, which I think is unwise.  I believe he needs to stick around 205 pounds.  I also believe that he is a likely UFC target sooner rather than later.

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16 in ’16: The Middleweights

Middleweight has long been one of the weaker weight classes of prospects. However, as I assembled this list of 16 middleweight prospects, I found that the weight class is not as prospect starving as many assume. In fact, pound for pound, I would stack these 16 up against any other. Middleweight may not have 40-50 prospects like welterweight and below, but these 16 prospects are very strong.

  1. Ramazan Emeev – 14-3 – 29 years old – Russia

Emeev was born in Azerbaijan, but lives and trains in Dagestan, Russia at the Gorets gym.  He is a very well-roundedemeev fighter who has shown off his skills in multiple arts.  While he seems to have very good grappling ability, he is very impressive in his striking.  He possess really good power.  He is able and willing to use kicks and knees.  He also seems to have good quickness.  His takedown defense is very good as well.  All of this together make him very formidable.  I also think that his particular skill set would translate well against American competition.  His improvements are noticeable from fight to fight. He also seems to know how to finish.  His hands are very heavy as Albert Duraev learned.  Emeev is not really a liability in any one place.  Emeev has an impressive resume.  He holds wins over Mario Miranda, Maiquel Falcao, Luigi Fiorvanti, and Vyacheslav Vasilevsky.  I believe that Emeev is not only the top middleweight prospect, but he may be the top overall middleweight outside the UFC.  Emeev has talked about his interest in fighting in the UFC, so I believe it is a very real possibility once he is contractually able to do so.

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What Other Promotions Should Head to UFC Fight Pass?

UFC Fight Pass currently has deals in place with 15 different MMA promotions as well as Glory Kickboxing and the EBI in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Those promotions include InvictaFC, TitanFC, Fight Nights, Tech Krep, Pancrase, TKO, Shooto Brazil, Shooto Japan, Cage Warriors, XFO, Combate, BRACE, and VictoryFC, VTJ, and AlaskaFC.  I would imagine that UFC will continue to add content and streamed events.  I think that there are some fight promotions that just make perfect sense for UFC Fight Pass.

  1. EuroFC – Finlandeurofc

This is a new promotion that I expect to make big waves in the European MMA circle.  UFC already has fight pass deals with promotions in Russia and the U.K. so a Finland based promotion makes tons of sense.  From observing their work in preparing for their first show, EuroFC looks like the type of promotion UFC would like to deal with as well.

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16 in ’16: The Welterweights

The welterweight division is MMA is a very deep division.  It is one of the largest divisions in the UFC and it is one of the most talent right in term of up and coming fighters.  In an attempt to narrow down to 16 fighters for this particular list, some very good prospects were left off.  Some of the prospects that did not make the list are better prospects than some listed in other weight classes.

  1. Abubakar Nurmagomedov – 12-1 – 26 years old – Russia

Abubakar is a cousin to UFC lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.  He fights exactly how you would expect abunurmya Dagestani fighter to fight.  He is tough and gritty.  I do not know if his wrestling is to the level of Khabib’s but he is very effective with his wrestling.  His pressure can be absolutely overwhelming at times. He also seems to do very well in scrambles.  He is very heavy from the top position and seems to have a good base that keeps him from being easily reversed.  There are not many people that will out grapple Abubakar.  He stays active with his ground and pound, but it is not dynamic.   He did win his last fight with some ground and pound, but I don’t think his power will ever be jaw dropping, but I believe he can be effective by being relentless on the mat.  I believe where he is most vulnerable is at distance with his strikes.  Honestly, his striking is not bad, but he does not typically engage in striking exchanges.  Most of his striking is to set up a takedown or clinch situation.  Nurmagomdov has fought decent competition, but really will get a step up when he faces UFC veteran John Howard on October 7th.  While Abubakar is locked up with WSOF for the time, I would consider a win over John Howard to be his signature win.  When he becomes a free agent, I expect UFC and Bellator to be legit players for his services.

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16 in ’16: The Lightweights

The lightweight division in MMA has long been considered the deepest division in the sport.  With the large quantity and quality of prospects out there, that will not change any time soon.  I had a difficult time eliminating fighters from this group of 16.  I believe all 16 of these guys could jump into the UFC or Bellator and be competitive.  However, some stand out about the rest.

  1. Mateusz Gamrot – 11-0 – 25 years old – Poland

Gamrot’s striking is solid.  He is not a liability on his feet as many wrestlers might be.  However, striking is not hisgamrot bread and butter.  His kicks are maybe one of his best attributes.  He also has decent knees when he has confidence to throw them.  He needs to be careful about taking damage as he closes distance.  The holes in striking are improving, but still have a ways to go.   Gamrot falls into the wrestling base group.  His MMA wrestling is very good and is even improving.  He can usually take opponents to the ground at will.  I would not call Gamrot a submission stylist, but he has shown the ability to finish with submissions.  I believe that right now, Gamrot is not only the best lightweight prospect in Europe, but he is the best lightweight prospect in the world.  I would not hold your breath on Mateusz jumping to the UFC.  He is currently signed to Polish promotion KSW, which not only pays well, but also does not have a UFC-out clause.  It is possible that Gamrot will want to eventually prove himself on the UFC level.  Regardless, he is a fighter to watch.

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16 in ’16: The Featherweights

The featherweight division in MMA is one of the most talent rich divisions on the sport. The UFC has tons of quality featherweight prospects on roster. There is no shortage of capable guys willing and ready to jump into the mix in one of the major MMA promotions. Some of the guys listed below will emerge as contenders and champions in the next few years.

  1. Andre Harrison – 13-0 – 28 years old – USA

Out of all the fighters on all our lists, I think Harrison is the most deserving of a UFC offer.  It is quite shocking thatandre-harrison-titan-fc-39 UFC has not picked up Harrison yet.  He has a very, very good resume.  He is the champion of a promotion that UFC has a good, working relationship with.  He is very talented.  Harrison has an upcoming fight with former Bellator standout Popo Bezerra.  A win there should do the trick.  The Bellmore Kickboxing product is always improving.   His striking is crisp.  He mixes things up well with punches and kicks.  He does a great job staying in the right range.  He puts good combinations together.  his movement and speed are also very good.  His striking has improved consistently.  He was a division II All-American wrestler at Fort Hays State University so he has really good wrestling.  He can use his wrestling wither offensively or defensively.  He is able to control where a fight takes place.  The once knock I have heard on Harrison is that he does not finish fights.  We must remember that in a long streak of going to a decision, Harrison was fighting very good opponents.  He has finishing abilities.  I believe he needs to trust in his skills more and those finishes will come.

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