5 “Big Show” Ready MMA Prospects From October

MMA Prospect expert Shawn Bitter takes a look at five fighters who proved they’re ready for the “big show” in September.

Khusein “Captain” Khaliev

Date – October 4th, 2018 | Promotion – WFCA 53 | Method – Submission (RNC), Round 2 | Opponent – Oton Jasse (17-3)
Khaliev is a fantastic, well-rounded fighter. He has 11 wins by submission but it’s his stand up that really illustrates his skill. The way he strings together his kicks, including his spinning kicks, in with his combinations is amazing. On the feet, he mainly relies on his kickboxing. He attacks every limb and has the ability to use spinning kicks but does it better than most other people. He has good wrestling but he’s not the guy to pick his opponent up and slam him to the mat. He’s very good at timing his takedowns and getting the trip takedowns. On the mat, he has excellent control and at times, he has relentless ground-and-pound. The UFC has recently signed many solid Russian prospects and now that Khaliev is on an 11-fight win streak it’s his turn to make a splash for the UFC. Khaliev is also very marketable as he’s fought around the world including the US.
Here is his full fight from October.

Khusein Khaliev
11 Submissions
From Grozny, Russia
Training out of K-Dojo Warrior Tribe
Ideal Cad- UFC Russia (February)
Ideal Opponent – Don Madge

Igeu “Smiley” Kabesa

Date – October 6th, 2018 | Promotion – EFC Worldwide 74 | Method – Decision (Unanimous) | Opponent – Calum Murrie (4-1)
Kabesa is a very decorated wrestler being a ten-time Wrestling Nationals Champion. He is young (24) and is solid everywhere making him one of the top prospects out of South Africa. Kabesa has amazing wrestling and grappling, he can move well on the mat and can get into mount fairly easy. His striking is good too moving in-and-out with explosive punches quickly. His only loss is to UFC fighter Danny Henry which was a rematch from the first meeting where he won. He’s currently with the South African promotion EFC and right now he’s cleared out all the other talent and it’s time for him to be on a bigger platform.
Here is his full fight from October. 

Igeu Kabesa
2 Submissions
From Sunninghill, Johannesburg, South Africa
Training out of Fight Fit Militia
Ideal Cad- UFC China targeted in 2019
Ideal Opponent – Humberto Bandenay

Austin “AK47” Vanderford
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Vanderford is a really strong wrestler as he was an amateur wrestling champion. He has excellent chain wrestling and once on top he is very dominant. He doesn’t have much on the feet but he is growing and he does hold power in his hands. Vanderford is coming off a big win this past Summer on the Contender Series in a comeback of the year performance. In the end, he didn’t get the title but he showed he is someone to watch for. He did just beat a good fighter in Edmilson Freitas and is ready for the big show opporunity but if not he is fighting again soon on the 5th of November against another top prospect in Joe Pierotti and a win there he would be more than ready.

Austin Vanderford
2 Submissions
From Portland, Oregon, US
Training out of Gracie Barra Portland
Ideal Cad- UFC Anaheim (January 26th)
Ideal Opponent – Danny Roberts

Shelton “The Gravedigger” Graves
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Date – October 19th, 2018 | Promotion – Final Fight Championship 32 | Method – Decision (Unanimous) | Opponent – Carl Semanutafa (12-8)
Graves may not be the most intriguing fighter to watch but he has boosted some solid wins in his career including winning the Ring of Combat title. Graves is a grinder who will put his opponents against the fence and work takedowns. As he doesn’t have much offensive output he has superior cardio. Graves fought on the first season of the Contender Series and as it was a lack luster fight he did get the finish in round 3 against Everett Sims but still didn’t get the contract. Since that bout, Graves won two more fights and is now on a 7-fight win streak.

Shelton Graves
1 Submissions
From Baltimore, Maryland, US
Training out of Top Flight MMA
Ideal Cad- Bellator LA (January 26th)
Ideal Opponent – Rudy Schaffroth

Ivan “Ural Hulk” Shtyrkov

Date – October 27th, 2018 | Promotion – RCC 4 | Method – TKO (Punches), round 2 | Opponent – Fabio Maldonada (24-12)
He has already beaten five former UFC fighters Jeff Monson, Fabio Maldonado, Rodney Wallace, Phil De Fries, and Antonio Silva. Shtyrkov gets visibly tired but it’s because of all the energy he puts into his fights. He has the power on his feet to drop anyone but tends to get hit a lot. Luckily he has shown a good chin and is able to take one to give one. Shtyrkov does have better wrestling, though, with a wide variety of takedowns from body lock takedowns, to double legs, to trip takedowns, showing both power and athleticism, which comes from his extensive sambo background. On top, Ivan is a strong submission threat, with five of his wins ending with a submission, four of them by an armbar. Ivan has moved down to light-heavyweight where he does look better. Ivan is now on a huge undefeated streak and the “Big Show” would have to be next.
Here is his full fight from October.

Ivan Shtyrkov
5 Submissions
From Yekaterinburg, Russia
Ideal Cad- UFC Russia (February)
Ideal Opponent – Nikita Krylov



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