3 Fighters From Each Division To Keep An Eye On

Which fighters are on the cusp of being ranked in their respective divisions?  I believe there are some names you need to know.  These people are moving up and some are moving not only towards top 15, but have a trajectory that is pointed towards championships.

Flyweight

I like these three up and coming prospects.  They are young and talented.

  • Joby Sanchez
  • Ray Borg
  • Louis Smolka

Bantamweight

Two guys who have already crossed the threshold into the top tier are Aljamain Sterling and Thomas Almeida.  These guys are likely future title contenders or champions in UFC.  I also need to put a disclaimer here that were it not for a prolonger absence due to injury Chris Holdsworth would be on this list.

  • Rob Font
  • Pedro Munhoz
  • Anthony Birchak

Featherweight

  • Yair Rodriguez
  • Mirsad Bektic
  • Brian Ortega

Others on the rise: Arnold Allen, Levan Makashivili, Doo Ho Choi, Chas Skelly

Lightweight

Lightweight has always been a stacked division.  In this division there is not much distinction between the 11th ranked guy and the guy who would be ranked 25th.  These are some guys that I would be surprised to never see in a UFC ranking.

  • Islam Makhachev
  • Magomed Mustafaev
  • Joe Duffy

Others on the rise: Chris Wade, Kevin Lee, Johnny Case, Stevie Ray, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Chad Laprise, Mairbek Taisumov

Welterweight

This division is really fun 15 deep.  However, I think there is help on the way for the division.  These guys are soon to be knocking on the rankings door.

  • Tom Breese
  • Kamaru Usman
  • Albert Tumenov

Others on the rise: Darren Till,

Middleweight

Middleweight has always struggled, but I am quite confident in these three guys to hang around and climb the ranks

  • Elias Theodorou
  • Jake Collier
  • Antonio Carlos, Jr

Others on the rise: Scott Askham

Light Heavyweight

This division is lousy.  The top 15 has not hardly changed for 5 years.  Its tough to break into the rankings.  If I am honest, while I like the three guys below, I am not confident they will reach ranked heights.

  • Corey Anderson
  • Misha Cirkunov
  • Jonathan Wilson

Heavyweight

This division in the UFC is old.  Joe Silva prefers 35 years olds to 25 year olds.  This philosophy has hurt the division long term.  There are a few bright spots….

  • Ruslan Magomedov
  • Viktor Pesta
  • Konstantin Erokhin

15 Light Heavyweights For The UFC To Sign Right Now

The UFC light heavyweight division has long been one of the best divisions as well as biggest draws.  Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson and of course Jon Jones are some of the notables from the division.  However, the division is currently in peril.  Jon Jones is out for the foreseeable future working out his personal and legal issues.  Rashad Evans is still recovering from an injury.  Alexander Gustafsson is now injured.  Phil Davis is now in Bellator.  Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Shogun Rua are oft injured.  Feijao is MIA.  Rampage is back, but still has some uncertainty surrounding him.  Essentially you have four guys at the top who are active:  Daniel Cormier, Anthony Johnson, Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader.  Ovince St. Preux is some new life.  Jimi Manuwa, Jan Blachowicz, Patrick Cummins and Fabio Maldonado are nice gatekeepers.  Brendan Schaub is dropping down, but I don’t expect him to be more than a gatekeeper there.  Anthony Perosh is old.  Dan Henderson is at middleweight.  They gave two solid light heavyweight prospects tough fights and they lost (Cara de Sapata and Corey Anderson).  There is currently a title fight scheduled between Cormier and Johnson, but after that, what happens?  Does Ryan Bader get a title shot?  UFC needs, needs needs some light heavyweights.  The problem is that talent does not move to contender status over night.  They need to sign multiple guys now.  I have listed 15 signings for them to make.  I would argue that they need to sign 5-8 of these guys quickly and build them.

The problem with these guys is that most of them are under 30 years old.  Joe Silva tends to like guys over 30 years old, which is part of the problem with the division.

1. Ion Cutelaba – 10-1 -21 years old

2. Tyrone Spong – 2-0 – 29 years old

3. Shamil Gamzatov – 7-0 – 24 years old

4. Mikhail Mokhnatkin – 6-1-1 – 25 years old

5. Jiri Prochazka – 12-2-1 – 21 years old

6.Abdul Kerim Edilov – 15-4 – 23 years old

7. Alexey Butorin – 9-0 – 28 years old

8. Karl Albrektsson – 4-0 – 21 years old

9. Maxim Grishin – 19-6 – 31 years old

10. Misha Cirkunov – 8-2 – 28 years old

11. Josh Stansbury – 6-2 – 30 years old

12. Magomed Ankalayev – 4-0 – 22 years old

13. Shamil Nurmagomedov – 19-3 – 32 years old

14. Karl Moore – 5-0 -22 years old

15. Iain Martell – 10-1 – 24 years old

6 German Fighters UFC Should Look At For Their Berlin Show

UFC will make a return to Berlin, Germany on June 20th.  It is unlikely we will see any new Germany talent signed initially, however, if and when injuries open up, it becomes a great opportunity for local talent.

UFC is not forced to look at Germany only.  They could look toward surrounding countries, but these German fighters could be on UFC’s radar anyways.

1. Martin Buschkamp – 8-0 – 24 years old – Featherweight

2. Rany Saadeh – 6-1 – 21 years old – Flyweight

3. Max Coga – 11-3 – 25 years old – Featherweight

4. Abusupiyan Magomedov – 10-2 – 24 years old – Welterweight

5. Nicolas Penzer – 11-1 – 26 years old – Middleweight

6. Vladimir Sikic – 10-0 – 25 years old – Lightweight

Saba Bolaghi, Nicolai Salchov, Roben Crawford, Khalid Taha, and Jonas Billstein

Stephan Puetz is locked in a deal with M-1, but when his deal expires, he could move to UFC, but not in June.

Next Five Guys In Each Division UFC Should Sign

Heavyweight

1.  Cody East

2. Marcin Tybura

3. Denis Goltsov

4. Chris De La Rocha

5.  Brandon Griffin

Light Heavyweight

1. Jiri Prochazka

2. Mikhail Mokhnatkin

3. Shamil Gamzatov

4. Abdul Kerim Edilov

5. Maxim Grishin

Middleweight

1. Max Nunes

2. Vagab Vagabov

3. Alberto Pereira Uda

4. Jack Hermansson

5. Jack Marshman

Welterweight

1. Anatoly Tokov

2. Aigun Akhemdov

3.Beslan Isaev

4. Chidi Njokuani

5. Khusein Khaliev

Lightweight

1. Musa Khamanev

2. Gregor Gilliespie

3. Mehdi Baghdad

4. Marif Piraev

5. Milan Zerjal

Featherweight

1. Oleg Borisov

2. Tom Duquesnoy

3. Andre Harrison

4. Chris Fishgold

5. Arnold Allen

Bantamweight

1. Magomed Bibulatov

2. Brett Johns

3. Julio Arce

4. Luke Sanders

5. Toni Tauru

Flyweight

1. Alexandre Pantoja

2. Kairat Akhmetov

3. Nildo Nascimento

4. Rany Saadeh

5. Pietro Menga

MMA Sun 2015 Prospect Spotlight – The Welterweights – #9 – Jonavin Webb

The number 9 welterweight this year is CFFC welterweight champion, Jonavin Webb. Webb is a very promising prospect who has a solid  JonaviNWebb  8-0 career record.  In Kendall Grove fashion, he is know by the moniker “Spyder”.  Webb is in an interesting situation.  He is a guy who is expected to face Lyman Good in the coming months.  However, I believe that he would be a good contender for the 22nd season of the Ultimate Fighter, which will cast later this month. Webb even has a career win over UFC veteran Dan Stittgen.  The Daniel Gracie trained fighter has potential to imporve and become a elite fighter.

When you look at Webb’s skills you will see that he has a well rounded skill set. Four of his eight wins have come by way of submission. Webb has competed alongside some high level BJJ practitioners. Webb is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blackbelt.  The mat is where Webb excels the most and is the most dangerous. He is always a submission threat. I believe he can be competitive at a very high level on the ground. The one issues may be his ability at higher levels to get the fight to the ground. Webb does have some wrestling background in high school.  He does not have bad takeedowns, but I believe he could struggle against bigger, stronger welterweights. I like it when he becomes more relentless in his pursuit of takedowns. His top game is very good, but sometimes he lets guys up too easily. With that said, Jonavin is one of the better grapplers on our welterweight list.  Webb was featured in a earlier MMAJunkie feature on Fight Path.

Webb’s striking has improved throughout his career.  He is getting more confident with his hands and strikes.  I do not believe he will ever be a striker, but I believe he can become solid.  His weakness is his striking.  The danger comes when he is out classed on his feet and cannot get a fight to the ground.  One of the things I did notice about Webb is that he has gotten more comfortable with his knees, especially in the clinch.  I am a bit nervous for his next fight, it it is against Lyman Good.  That fight would be re-match.  In their first fight, Webb struggled, but following  an eye poke (controversial), the fight was ruled a no contest.

Webb can hang with most UFC fighters on the ground.  If you combine that with his improving striking he can become a real threat in the UFC.  As stated above, I believe Webb could be a good candidate for the welterweight cast of the Ultimate Fighter 22.

Flyweights

1. Kairat Akhmetov
2. Rany Saadeh
3. Kurban Gadzhiev
4. Matheus Nicolau
5. Ryo Hatta
6. Kevin Petshi
7. Hiromasa Ogikubo
8. Allan Nascimento
9. Yuki Motoya
10. Nildo Nascimento

Bantamweights

1. Magomed Bibulatov
2. Brett Johns
3. Jonas Bilharinho
4. Luis Rafael Laurentino
5. Mario Israel
6. Renato Carneiro
7. Toni Tauru
8. Matheus Mattos
9. Henry Corrales
10. Luke Sanders

Featherweights

1. Tom Duquesnoy
2. Pavel Vitruk
3. Oleg Borisov
4. Michael Tobin
5. Andre Harrison
6. Arnold Allen
7. Levan Makashvili
8. Shane Burgos
9.  Kleber Koike Erbst
10. James Jenkins

Lightweights

1. Gregor Gillespie
2. Maxim Divnich
3. Mateusz Gamrot
4. Marc Diakiese
5. Aziz Pahrudinov
6. Bekzod Abdurakhmonov
7. Steven Ray
8. Milan Zerjal
9. David Khachatryan
10. David Putvin

Welterweights

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10. Borys Mańkowski

Middleweights

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Light Heavyweights

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Heavyweights

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Women’s Bantamweight

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Women’s Strawweights

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A Breakdown Of Where MMA Talent Is Coming From?

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For years we have maintained that the breeding ground for MMA talent were in USA and in Brazil.  After all, Brazil is home to martial arts in many ways and USA by far has the best training facilities.  I would argue that is still true to a point.  However, my statistics show that Eastern Europe is the fasting growing place for up and coming MMA talent.  There was a moment in MMA history where the best prospects were from USA, Brazil and then Canada.  Perhaps we would include a place like Japan and U.K. in the talk following.  However, those countries have been surpassed by Russia primarily.

Where Did They Rank?

Out of my 393 prospects on my lists from male bantamweight to Heavyweight 70 were Russians.  That means 18% of the top prospects in the sport are Russian.  This does not include Ukrainian or Moldovan prospects either.  The United States still has the most prospects in quantity with 90 in total or 23% of the prospect pool.  Brazil did have the third most MMA prospects at 47 (12%).  Perhaps not surprisingly, the U.K. was next with 25 prospects in total (6%).  In one of the more surprising aspects, Poland rounded out the top 5 with 18 total prospects (5%).  Canada is still making a mark with 14 prospects on our lists.  France is making trending upwards with 13 prospects listed.  Japan comes in with 12 total.  Sweden had a showing of 8 prospects.  Ukraine and Germany follow them with 8 prospects respectively.

About The Lists:

There are several guys out there who do a great job scouting prospects and they might have some names on their radar that we are unaware of.  However, we believe we have a fairly comprehensive list with many weight classes having 50 or more prospects listed.  We also believe that this is an adequate sampling.  Certainty the results could vary slightly depending on what other prospects were listed, but we do not think the findings would change all that much.

For our purposes we have a strict definition of what makes one a “prospect”.  We would not consider one to be a prospect who has fought previously in UFC or Bellator.  Also, we withhold guys who have fought on the main cards of World Series of Fighting and OneFC.  In addition, we limit our prospects to under 33 years old.

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MMA Sun 2015 Prospect Spotlight – The Welterweights – #10 – Borys Mańkowski

The number 10 welterweight this year is Polish fighter and current KSW welterweight champion Borys Mańkowski.  Mańkowski has a 17-5-1borys-mańkowski career record that includes several very solid wins including victories over Mohsen Bahari, Aslambek Saidov and UFC fighter Peter Sobotta.  I really like Mańkowski’s progression.  He is very experienced at a fairly high level and he is still just 25-years old.

Mańkowski is an aggressive striker.  He moves forward constantly.  One of the things that stands out about his striking game is his powerful kicks.  Mańkowski is not really and striker and he has not typically used his strikes to finish fights, but he does have a much improved striking game.  He has shown glimpses of some power, and I believe he has the potential to have really good striking.  His movement is good and I like that he has become a solid counter puncher.  Sometimes he throws punches to wide and over-extends himself.  I believe that if he were to sit down on his punches a little more and throw a little straighter shots his power would increase.  I also would like to see him be a little more cautious.  There were times his striking defense became suspect and it seemed to do so in small waves.

I really like Mankoiwski’s overall grappling game.  He is a threat on the mat with submissions.Six of his victories have come by way of submission and he has done that in a variety of ways.  As a result, we know he has a wide array of submission skills in his arsenal.  He is a threat from top position and from off of his back.  Opponents have to be careful inside his guard.  His transitions on the bottom from submission to submission are very good.   Mankowski has shown thus far in his career the ability to get fights to the ground.  He has an impressive and powerful double leg takedown.

While I do not think the UFC can pluck him away from his exclusive deal with KSW, I do think that he is a fighter that will soon emerge on the big stage.  I would imagine that when his contract is fulfilled he will get big time offers from big promotions.  I think Mankowski could not only get to a place like the UFC, but I think he could win some fights there.

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