MMA Sun 2015 Prospect Spotlight – The Lightweights – 10 Who Just Missed Our Top Ten

The lightweight division is and has always been one of the most talent laden divisions in the sport.  I found it very difficult to create a list of bagdad110 top prospects for the year that met our criteria.  I ended up with a list of 20.  Usually, I have come up with a top ten and had five guys that could make a case to be on the list.  For the lightweights, I believe there were 10 guys worth a mention.  These fighters may have a case for being on our top ten.  These fighters have good resumes and are all likely to be in the big leagues one day.

  1. Yuki Kawana – 24 years old – 8-0 – One of the brightest of the Japanese prospects is Kawana.  Now fighting for Shooto, he could make a name for himself in 2015.  Kawana is young, but also is respected on the Japanese scene.  Any promotion would be smart to try to get a hold of him.
  2. Mehdi Baghdad – 29 years old – 10-3 – Baghdad is a French fighter training at Team Quest in California.  The current RFA champion is probably a win or two away from a UFC call.  Mehdi has very good striking.  He has good size for the weight class and could be another under the radar type guy to keep look out for.
  3. Vladimir Sikic – 24 years old – 10-0 – Sikic, the Croatian fighter, is fairly unknown by most.  But his record is impressive.  He has shown a variety of finishing tactics.
  4. Rubenilton Pereira – 21 years old -16-1  – A young Brazilian fighter with a good record and good jiu jitsu.  Currently fighting under the XFC banner, he has a chance to gain some experience.  He is a bit sloppy in exchanges, but that will tighten up with age.
  5. Saul Rogers – 25 years old – 9-1 – Keep an eye on this UK based fighter.  He is making waves in Cage Warriors and could soon contend for their title.  Rogers is a guy that has improved a good bit over his career.  He holds a notable career win over UFC veteran John Maguire.
  6. Teemu Packalen – 27 years old – 6-0 – Packlen hails from Finland, and certainly is mounting a nice resume himself.  I think he is one of the top Scandinavian fighters to watch.  He really has good submissions and ground game.
  7. T.J. Hepburn – 25 years old – 4-0 – Hepburn has a very good wrestling background and could really be one to keep your eyes on.  He has had moments in fights where he really looks good.  I would like to see him a bit more active, but with his wrestling ability and strength I think he could be a tough fight for anyone.
  8. Alex Volkanovski – 9-1 – The Australian fighter also has a solid resume highlighted by wins over Jai Bradney and Rodolfo Diniz.  Volkanowski could be one of the few Australian fighters who could make a run at the UFC.
  9. Ramazan Esenbaev – 25 years old – 8-1-1 – The Russian lightweight has a very good resume, probably deserving of top ten ranking, however, he is coming off of an unimpressive win to end 2014.  Given his age, I still think Esenbaev could make an impact in the division.  Oddly, when people talk about the Russian lightweights, his name does not get mentioned often…it should.
  10. Kuat Khamitov – 26 years old – 18-3 – The Kazakhstan native is a underrated fighter, who has an impressive resume.  I think if the UFC wants to target this part of Asia, he could be a guy that they look for.  There are 3-4 Kazakh fighters that could compete in the UFC.  I would not be surprised if UFC gave someone like him a shot.

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