Weekly MMA prospect report: LFA 51, Combate Americas, Bellator 206, and CW 97 Loaded with Talent
Each week MMA prospect expert Shawn Bitter looks at the top up and coming fighters stepping in the cage around the globe. From the tiniest shows to Bellator prelims we give you the cream of the crop.
Fight Night West 4, Friday. (Czech Republic)
Light-heavyweight, Rafal Kijanczuk (4-0)
Kijanczuk may only be 4-0 but he has some good wins over some decent competition. He is a legit finisher with all four wins via KO/TKO and three of them at 0:12, 0:15, and o:19. He’s very athletic and has very good footwork as he cuts angles and explodes in very well. There is still a lot unknown about him but he is worth the lookout. He fights Charles Andrade (34-41) who is coming off three losses but this is a solid test.
M-1 Challenge 97, Friday. (Russia)
Lightweight, Roman Bogatov (7-0)
Bogatov is a Russian prospect who has burst onto the scene this year for M-1 Global and is looking to capture the M-1 title this week. Bogatov is soely a grappler where on the feet he isn’t bad but is just unpolished on his striking and his defense needs work. The Russian is aggressive from bell to bell who will constantly press forward and secure takedowns with exceptional cardio. His grappling is top notch as he will give up takedowns he is still very good at scrambling and gaining top position. Bogatov wants to be on the mat as that is where he is very dangerous with his ground and pound where his positional grappling tieing up his opponent’s limbs and firing punches is very well done. He’s always attacking submissions and he has four subs on his record which is has best aspect of his skill-set. He fights Rubenilton Pereira (20-5) who is on a 5-fight win streak but his TDD should fail him.
Unified MMA 34, Friday. (Canada)
Welterweight, Pat Pytlik (6-0)
Pytlik is a solid prospect out of Canada with a 100% finish rate who trains out of Hayabusa Training Centre which is a camp filled with top-notch talent. Pytlik started his combat sports in muay-thai as he holds a 27-7-2 record than a 3-0 record in south-east east Asia. There isn’t much footage available but what you can tell is that he is dangerous in the clinch with key elbows stopping three of his bouts with elbows. He is also very technical with solid output but still, a lot is unknown about 29-year-old. He fights Vyron Phillips (7-4-1) who is coming off a win and is a good test for Pat.
LFA 51, Friday. (California)
Flyweight, Sabina Mazo (5-0)
The bright star out of Colombia and at only 21 years old, Mazo might just be on the door of a UFC contract. Mazo has scored two nasty head kick knockouts in two of her bouts. Mazo is good at a distance with her kicks and her jab and has good footwork. Mazo has solid takedown defense and has an underrated ground game that hasn’t been shown yet. She is very technical and can mix all her weapons together perfectly and has solid cardio as well. She will defend her LFA title against Jaimee Nievera (7-4) who is coming off a loss but this is a good test for Mazo.
Bantamweight – Gustavo Erak (19-3-1)
On the feet, Erak’s striking isn’t great but he has outstanding kickboxing, he goes high and low and mixes it well when coming in but is sluggish as the fight goes. Erak does have good wrestling as well with solid ground and pound is very active and always raining down punches and can do it for 3 rounds. Erak has a lot of experience with 23 total fights and still only 26-years-old. He fights Cody Gibson (15-7) who is a former UFC fighter and this is a big test for Erak.
Bantamweight, Nohelin Hernandez (8-2)
Fighting out of top camp in American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) Hernandez is a very talented striker. He has beautiful head movement and uses feints perfectly to set up heavier strikes. He doesn’t have much power but he has the timing and accuracy to do very well. He is an excellent counter-striker but he does a great job a fighting tall using his jab and setting everything up. Hernandez doesn’t do much wrestling but he does have very powerful ground-and-pound stopping two of his fights that way. He fights Rolando Velasco (13-5-1) who is coming off two losses.
Lightweight, Salaiman Ahmadyar (6-0)
With Afghanistan roots but born in Berkeley, California Ahmadyar is a solid prospect who trains out of top camp Team Alpha Male. Ahmadyar started in wrestling before competing in MMA and the takedowns have main his main focus in his MMA career. He’s an aggressive fighter who walks forward the whole time and will spam overhands over and over as the technique isn’t there but the power is. He will shoot for many takedowns each fight as he good top control and is a grinder but he still has a lot to show. He fights Joaquin Lopez (4-0).
Lightweight, Joaquin Lopez (4-0)
There isn’t much footage on Lopez but the 30-year-old prospect seems to have a solid skill-set on the feet. Lopez has solid boxing always throwing one-twos and really using solid movement side to side and cutting angles while throwing at angles very well. Lopez favors the lead uppercut and is always throwing after or before never throwing just one strike and the Californian born fighter has dynamite in his hands with all career wins via TKO/KO. He fights Salaiman Ahmadyar (6-0).
Shooto Brasil 88, Friday. (Brazil)
Bantamweight, Glyan Alves (11-3)
The Shooto Brasil current champ, Alves is a super fun and promising fighter to keep in eye out on. Alves is well-rounded being both good on the mat and on the feet but more so the feet where he is very dangerous. He’s really explosive and dynamic with his offensive output including spinning attacks, flying knees, and many other flashy strikes. He isn’t just a flashy type fighter as he can be very technical and he holds a lot of power in his hands. Alves does have good wrestling to fall back on as he’s not too effective once the mat, He fights Diego Ribeiro (8-1) who seems to be a good prospect but footage lacks.
Featherweight, Leonardo Limberger (11-1)
Limberger is well rounded but he may be better on the feet. He’s shown one punch knockout power but his high volume output is what he does best. Limberg throws one-twos from a variety of angles, almost never throwing one strike and mixing in kicks beautifully. He is an excellent range fighter with great footwork and perfectly timed counters. He uses leg kicks as one of his main weapons and does a good job switching to spinning kicks that are neither sloppy nor telegraphed at all. Limberger has underrated wrestling, as he has great timing on his double leg and he sets it up and executes perfectly. On the mat, you can’t ask for much more as he has good BJJ on top or off of his back, which shows in his 5 submissions. Limberger is constantly passing into better positions, getting the mount and the back, and landing effective ground and pound. Overall I really see no weakness in him at. He defends his title against Fabricio Martins (11-2) who he should beat.
Combate Americas, Friday. (California)
Featherweight, Andres Quintana (14-2)
“The Bullet” was first known to the larger MMA audience when he lost in the fight to get into the house on the ultimate fighter season 22. Since that, Quintana has gone 5-1 and is a much-improved fighter. Quintana has a ground game but on the feet it where he is a fantastic fighter and is why he has made his name known for Combate Americas. He has a lot of experience in amateur boxing and that has shown so much in his MMA career where he does keep’s his hands low but it’s allowing his punches to be less telegraphed. He is always throwing constant volume and is incredibly accurate as his style reminds you of Nate Diaz. He fights Erick Gonzalez (8-2).
Featherweight, Erick Gonzalez (8-2)
Gonzalez is a scrapper with tons of heart showing that in many of his fights. “The Ghost Pepper” is dangerous everywhere the fight goes as he is a heavy-handed guy on the feet and on the mat, he has slick jiu-jitsu. Gonzalez does slow as the fight goes and he does throw wild but he makes up with it with a lot of volume and throws long strikes from everywhere including the uppercut which he favors but if he connects he will put you down. His takedown defense isn’t too good but he does threaten off his back a bit and if he gets on top his ground and pound is a fight changer. He fights Andres Quintana (14-2).
Strawweight, Melissa Martinez (4-0)
Very very young in her career and at only 20-years-old, Martinez is a major prospect in the strawweight division. She’s only shown moments on the mat but she wants to be on the feet the entire time. Martinez, first of all, has great cardio and with the constant footwork and movement side to side she uses is crazy good. Melly has the ability to break an opponent down with her chopping leg kicks and with a quick release she has a dangerous head kick which she has won with a couple times. Martinez puts combinations together with her hands very well and her explosion and hand speed is solid. She fights Francis Hernandez (3-2) who is coming off a win but this should be an easy win for Martinez.
OFS 13, Friday. (Russia)
Featherweight, Aliyar Sarkerov (35-5)
Sarkerov has a massive amount of experience with 40 total fights and miraculously is still only 28. Sarkerov’s last loss came in April of 2015 to former top prospect, Ivan Buchinger. Since that loss, Sarkerov has gone on a tear winning his next 20 fights finishing all but one. Sarkerov is good everywhere, as on the feet he has very flashy and unpredictable out with kicks, strikes and body attacks as he mixes is together very well. His takedown ability is perfect, he sets up his entrances well, and he can use a variety of takedowns including trips, single leg, hip throws, and double legs. In general, his takedown ability is where it needs to be. On the mat is where he is spectacular, as he is a great danger at grabbing the neck and putting the fight away. He fights Antonio Ribeiro (16-3-1) who is a very tough test for Aliyar.
Aftershock 30, Friday. (Australia)
Bantamweight, Darwin Sagurit (10-3)
Many people will look past Sagurit looking at his age of 36 where he’s not considered a prospect. With that said I consider him a prospect because Sagurit has been doing everything right to try and get his shot at a big stage fighting at both 135 and 145 and winning titles between the two in the process. Sagurit may 5’4″ but he makes up with it with constant aggression and always throwing hands. You ever hear of the term, throwing everything but the kitchen sink? well, Sagurit throws the sink as well. When this dude hit’s it’s with heavyweight-like power which is why he has 8 KO/TKO wins and most of them he leaves the guys unconscious. The goal is to take him down as he has been on his back in the past but being so short it’s hard to get underneath him to do so. He fights Kairin Moses (4-2) who is coming off a loss.
URCC Colassal, Saturday. (Asia)
Featherweight, Do Gyeom Lee (5-1)
After losing his first professional fight, Lee has gone on to win his next five and has looked very good as well as winning the URCC title in the process. On the fee, Lee does a solid job at staying in the pocket and countering his opponents well and as he does get hit often, he has shown a solid chin. He’s also shown he has chopping leg kicks in his arsenal and stays committed to his weapons. His wrestling is good as well where his top game is getting better and better in each fight. He fights Mark Striegl (17-2) who is on a 3-fight win streak but I like Lee in this fight.
WWFC 12, Saturday. (Ukraine)
Heavyweight, Sergey Spivac (8-0)
WWFC Heavyweight Champion Sergey Spivac is a fighter that relies heavily on his size and strength. Although four of his eight wins are by submission, he could really improve his success by improving his offensive wrestling. He has the ability but needs to set up his attempts better. On top, Spivac is a force. He likes mount and has very strong active ground-and-pound, but his ability to go for the armbar is impressive for a big man, and he does it well with two armbar finishes to his name. On the feet, he is good once he lets his hands go and starts to string together combinations. He even has the ability to throw kicks up top with relative success. At the age of 23, Spivac has a good future. He fights Tony Lopez (61-28) who has been killing it on the regional scene so this is a huge test for Spivac.
Cage Warriors 97, Saturday. (UK)
Featherweight, Jack Shore (8-0)
Shore has made some good strides in his striking with good output, combinations, and fight-ending knees in the clinch. He is a slick wrestler with nice timing on his takedowns. If he can’t get it down the first time, he has shown the ability to adjust and chain wrestle his opponents. On top, he is a nightmare opponent. Shore is a pro at passing into better positions, scrambling well and hunting submissions. Shore’s ground-and-pound is a big fight-changer, too. He loves to throw vicious elbows often. He fights Oemer Cankardesler (8-5-2) who Shore should easily beat.
Lightweight, Mason Jones (5-0)
Jones fights out of Blaenavon, Wales and is a nice prospect at only 23-years old. Jones is a good wrestler who has some very well timed level changes who is very good at taking the back where he has two rear-naked chokes. Jones grappling is good in general but his ground and pound is also a difference maker. On the feet, Jones is always gonna be in your face pushing you against the fence landing knees and lethal elbows in the clinch. He’s always aggressive throwing a lot of volumes and really has solid cardio with his pace he brings. He fights Kacper Formela (8-1).
Lightweight, Kacper Formela (8-1)
With only one loss on his record, Formela is currently on a four-fight win streak. The native out of Poland brings a karate background into the cage but overall he is solid everywhere. On the feet is where Formela is at his beat as he has the tendency to throw one punch at a time but his release on his straight punches are solid and his kicks are very dangerous. The 22-year-old has solid wrestling as well and overall this guy has a bright future.
Bellator 206, Saturday. (California)
Lightweight, Aaron Pico (3-1)
Pico has competed in folkstyle, freestyle, and Greco-Roman winning a championship in all 3. He has competed in multiple wrestling based matches and has become very successful. Pico also has a background in boxing winning many belts and also being a Junior Golden Gloves champion in 2009. He came up short in his first bout but he has rebounded and won his next three, all first-round finishes. Pico has got the finishes with his hands with mixed in takedowns here and there but the power and accuracy on his stikes is awesome. He fights Leandro Higo (18-4) who is coming off a loss but this is a massive step up for Pico.
Featherweight, Gaston Bolanos (3-1)
There isn’t gonna be many fighters that will want to stand with Bolanos if they watched his fights or simply know of him. He is a two-time South American Muay Thai Champion, U.S. Muay Thai Champion, and a two-time USA representative at the IFMA World Championships. He started in combat sports at the age of 10 and now at 26 he could very well have a bright future. He’s super technical but more so explosive with his offense including the straight punches, damaging leg kicks, and the signature spinning elbow. He fights Ysidro Gutierrez (4-2) who he should beat.
Xtreme Fight Night 352, Saturday. (Oklahoma)
Heavyweight, Greg Hardy (2-0)
Hardy is a former standout football player competition in the NFL for at defensive end for six years. He has blown up on the MMA scene for both his troubled past and his big wins for the likes of LFA and Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He is only 2-0 as a pro but his two opponents had a record of 7-0 combined and he has blitzed through them easily. He fights Rasheem Jones (1-1) who is a gimmie fight for Hardy.
RIZIN 12, Saturday. (Japan)
Light Heavyweight, Jiri Prochazka (21-3)
At 6’4″ he is a massive fighter and he uses it to his advantage using leg kicks and knees at various ranges. Prochazka is a very dangerous fighter, finishing 19 of his 21 wins with only one going out of the first. He is really good at putting pressure on his opponents with a lot of volume, and really putting his kicks and punches together fluidly. Being such a dangerous striker, Prochazka is extremely athletic as he loves to launch himself in the air with flying knees. He is arguably the best light-heavyweight prospect world-wide. He fights Jake Heun (11-7) who is coming off a loss.
Flyweight, Kai Asakura (10-1)
Of what I saw from this guy he is a legit talent. He has excellent striking a lot of power in his hands especially for a Flyweight. He is explosive, athletic, quick, and his accuracy is amazing. I have seen good TDD and good counter wrestling and ability to take the back and get the choke. He does hold 7 KO/TKO with 2 submissions. He looks like the real deal. He fights Thanongsaklek Tiger Muay Thai (6-1)