Weekly MMA Prospect Report: TKO 45, LFA 56, Cage Warriors 100, and More
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.
PGC 1, Thursday. (Dubai)
Lightweight, Marif Piraev (24-2)
First of all his record won’t go unnoticed with 24 wins and only two losses – and at only 26 years old. Them losses was to the undefeated KSW lightweight champ Mateusz Gamrot and to top prospect Tofik Musaev. Piraev spends a lot of his fight time on the feet where you can see him looking for a big shot as he throws many step in knees, flying knees, and head kicks which he disguises so well with his movement. He moves in and out very well, exploding with punches and then back out so quickly. He holds 9 submissions and all that is set up by his well-executed wrestling. Piraev could just wall and stall against the fence because he is that strong but he chooses to go for constant takedowns against the fence and eventually gets the back. He could tighten up his takedown defense which would be his one flaw. He fights Tzvetelin Gerginov (5-1) who is on a good win streak but is not too good.
ONE Championship, Friday. (Malaysia)
Bantamweight, Daichi Takenaka (11-0-1)
He doesn’t offer much on the feet as his main goal is to close the distance and get the takedown. Takenaka does well at shooting for takedowns but if it doesn’t come quickly, he will position to the body-lock and get the takedown. On the mat is where he is at best, he is quick in scrambles and a big threat at taking the back and getting the choke where he holds four submissions. He fights Kevin Chung (5-1) who is coming off a loss.
TKO 45, Friday. (Canaday)
Featherweight, Charles Jourdain (7-1)
Jourdain has it all having shown very few weaknesses and like is opponent Laramie, he is quite young (23). Jourdain is excellent on the feet, leveraging athleticism in the form of flying knees. He is also a skilled kickboxer, and very good in the clinch. Jourdain does an awesome job landing big shots on the break, an undervalued tool in MMA. Jourdain gets the takedown mainly from the clinch where he utilizes primarily trip takedowns. Lastly, his ground-and-pound and conditioning have proven solid thus far. He is really getting better and better. He fights a very tough fighter in Alex Morgan (9-3) who is a test but I’m not too high on him.
Flyweight, Jade Wong (2-0)
Wong is only 2-0 as a pro but has been in martial arts since a young age as she took up boxing and kickboxing before switching over to MMA. She is still green which is expected in only two pro fights but I like where she’s at. Wong wants to keep the fight standing where she can let her hands go. She is aggressive, she’s rapid, and she has a beautiful dip to a right hand she throws. She still needs work but she is someone to watch for. She fights Marilyn Micallef (2-0) who is a threat on the mat but her striking is not on the level as Wong.
Bantamweight, Morgane Ribout (4-0)
The native out of France has a background as a world Judo champion. Ribout doesn’t have much footage but she has a 100% finish with all finishes in the first round. She’s someone to watch for. She fights Corinne Laframboise (2-2) who is a gimme fight for Ribout.
Unified MMA 35, Friday. (Canada)
Middleweight, Teddy Ash (12-3)
Ash doesn’t have hardly any footage available but he has a solid resume on the Canadian scene. He holds titles in the middleweight and the light-heavyweight divisions. Ash also has a win over former UFC fighter Seth Baczynski. He fights former UFC fighter Dominique Steele (17-11). With a win, that should be the ticket to the UFC for Ash.
LFA 56, Friday. (Minnesota)
Lightweight, Killys Mota (11-0)
Mota isn’t very technical or quick and his cardio lacks but his pressure and volume striking is what breaks his opponents. Not much power, but he throws constantly and is at his best against the fence where he is strong. By the fence, he has good knees, and can dirty box. Mota has effective wrestling but his ground and pound is where he is best with the number of strikes he throws. He fights Austin Hubbard (9-2) who is on a two-fight win streak but Mota should win.
Light-heavyweight, Alton Cunningham (6-1)
A very talented fighter and a pure athlete, Alton has finished off all seven of his amateur wins and all of his pro fights. He has a solid top game that he’s used to knocking his opponents out cold with his ground and pound, but he usually tends to stay on the feet, where he is a good boxer with the stopping power to put his opponents stiff. Cunningham also has very good kickboxing, even holding a head kick knockout. I’m really excited for the future of this 25-year-old and I like the move up to 205. He fights Erick Murray (4-1) who is a good test.
Middleweight, Taylor Johnson (4-0)
Not much footage is available for Johnson but in only four fights he has made a name for himself. In his debut, he beat a Jamal Pogues who is a top light-heavyweight prospect. In his other two fights which have been with LFA, he’s shown knockout power with an 8-second knockout and other quick finishes with his ground and pound in the mount. He fights Robert Gidron (4-1) who is a solid test for Johnson.
Featherweight, Youssef Zalal (5-0)
Zalal is a product out of FactoryX with the likes of some excellent up-and-coming fighters. Zalal is poised to have a big 2019 coming up as he’s an excellent prospect who can eventually win the LFA championship. “The Moroccan Devil” is well rounded but in his pro career, he holds four submission wins. His wrestling is a work in progress but on the mat, he has solid grappling and does a solid job at hunting for submissions. On the feet, Zalal has good output and as he’s shown power in his right hands he is more about volume with his kicks and strikes. Overall, I think he’s someone to watch for in 2019. He fights Steven Merrill (5-3) who is coming off a loss.
Real Fight, Saturday. (Russia)
Middleweight, Jun Yong Park (9-3)
Park started off his MMA career with up and down record going 3-3 in his first six fights. Park hit a spark with a win in November of 2016 and then went on to win his next six bringing his total win streak to six with all finishes. Park has fought in Japan, Korea, China, Austrailia, Guam, and Russia so he has good experience. Park is arguably one of the best Korean prospects right now but is for sure the best in the middleweight division. Park has a fan-friendly style as the Korean loves to throw down and put on a show. His takedown defense does need some work but he is an impressive striker. He fights Matvey Ivanenko (3-0) who has little footage.
Cage Warriors 100, Saturday. (UK)
Bantamweight, Jack Shore (9-0)
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 Mike Ekundayo (7-0).
Bantamweight, Mike Ekundayo (7-0)
Undefeated in 12 total fights, Ekundayo also went undefeated as an amateur going 5-0. “Airlines” is a bit one-dimensional as his striking isn’t really there but his wrestling is excellent. Ekundayo does a great job at closing the distance and utilizing trips to get the fight to the mat and showing good hips. He’s a very good wrestling with improving grappling who has a good gas tank and a bright future training out of Titan Fighter with mentor, Brad Pickett. He fights Jack Shore (9-0).
Conflict MMA 48, Saturday. (Georgia)
Bantamweight, Brandon Lewis (4-0)
He is skilled all around as on the feet he has improved a lot through his career. His kickboxing is good he does a nice job at throwing kicks in with his combinations throwing at a high pace with a lot of volume. He has good wrestling but his grappling is his best aspect as he excels in scrambles, is always moving, and has a good submission game with 5 submission wins in his amateur career. He fights Jason Faglier (6-2) who anyone at this point is a good test for Lewis.