2016 has been an incredible year so far in MMA, now let’s take a look at part 2 of the top prospects in MMA who should be making their UFC debut in the near future.
Lightweight: Mateusz Gamrot 11-0
The Polish MMA scene has never been stronger. Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk has proven herself to be one of the best fighters on the planet, and her next opponent, according to Bet365 will most likely be a fellow Polish fighter, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. One of the best fighters from Poland not fighting in the UFC is 25 year old Mateusz Gamrot.
Gamrot has not taken the easy route in his MMA career, but has yet to taste defeat in 11 professional fights. In just his 5th bout, he took on former UFC vet Andre Winner and defeated him via a dominant decision. Recently, Gamrot has defeated two highly touted prospects in Rodrigo Carvalheiro Correia and Miraf Piraev, finishing them both by TKO.
It seems like a foregone conclusion that Mateusz Gamrot will soon make his UFC debut. He is incredibly well rounded and has shown that he can compete at a very high level. He will be entering into perhaps the toughest division in the sport, and it will be interesting to see how he can fair against the elite of the elite.
Honorable Mentions: Gregor Gillespie, Milan Zerjal
Welterweight: Abubakar Nurmagomedov 12-1
The younger brother of UFC lightweight fighter Khabib Murmagomedov has been quietly fighting his way towards the big leagues for years. In August of last year, Abubakar made his WSOF debut and has since defeated all three of his opponents in that promotion.
Like Khabib, Abubakar Nurmagomedov utilizes an elite wrestling game and solid standup to overwhelm fighters. Out of his 12 professional wins, 10 were finished by either a submission or TKO. Dagestani fighters are known for their grit and tenacity, and Abubakar is a key example.
There were questions surrounding Nurmagomedov heading into his WSOF debut. He answered those questions with three dominant victories, and will soon face the biggest test of his career against longtime UFC veteran John Howard. If Abubakar wins that fight, it seems highly likely he will get a call to step into the UFC octagon.
Honorable Mentions: Alexey Kunchenko, Anatoly Tokov
Middleweight: Phil Hawes 4-1
Despite making US gambling news by suffering a submission loss in his most recent fight, Phil Hawes is still one of the brightest young prospects at 185 pounds. The Blackzilian trained fighter has been highly regarded since his MMA debut in 2014, and with a couple wins, he could soon be competing inside the UFC.
Hawes comes from a collegiate wrestling background, and has seamlessly adapted his skills into MMA. He has ridiculous explosiveness and speed, and is slowly gaining confidence in his striking skills.
His most recent fight showed that he still needs some experience before entering into the UFC, but sometimes a loss is the best thing for a fighter. With only five pro fights, Hawes still needs to prove himself, but he is without a doubt one of the most talented prospects in MMA. Make sure to follow this fighter.
Honorable Mentions: Aleksei Butorin, Mamed Khalidov
Light Heavyweight: Vladimir Mineev 7-0
It’s hard not to get excited about the idea of Vladimir Mineev competing in the UFC. He is one of the most decorated strikers in the world, and since making the transition to MMA, has been absolutely dominant.
Mineev went 24-2 as a professional kick boxer, defeating a number of dangerous fighters such as Sebastian Ciobanu and Mikhail Tyuterev along the way. He made his MMA debut in late 2014 and has gone 7-0, finishing his first 6 fights by first round KO, and his 7th by a second round submission.
Of all the prospects in MMA that we cover on this list, Mineev might be the most exciting. His world-class striking experience and improving ground game make him one of the most dangerous fighters outside the UFC, and it seems likely that Bet365 would list him as a heavy favorite against many opponents. The light-heavyweight division desperately needs new fighters, and Vladimir Mineev might be the perfect addition.
Honorable Mentions: Jiri Prochazka, Paul Craig
Heavyweight: Sergey Pavlovich 8-0
The last fighter we spotlight here is another Russian who’s been turning heads during his MMA career (no pun intended). Sergey Pavlovich has accumulated an 8-0 record fighting mainly in Russian regional shows, with all but one of his fights ending via KO or TKO.
At 6’3, 240 pounds, Pavlovich is a true heavyweight with an impressive skill set both standing and on the ground. He has yet to face any truly elite fighters thus far in his career, but his next fight takes place in less than two weeks as he takes on another prospect with a 6-1 record.
If Pavlovich wins, he may be knocking on the door to the big leagues. It may be wise for him to first sign with a smaller promotion such as Bellator MMA or WSOF before stepping into the UFC, but that is for him to decide. He is certainly one of the best prospects in MMA at heavyweight, and would be a welcome addition to a somewhat struggling weight class.
Honorable Mentions: Denis Smoldarev, Karol Bedorf
Who do you think is the most exciting prospects in MMA? Leave your comments below, and make sure to check out GamingZion’s list of online sportsbooks in the US including Bet365 to find all the best websites for betting on MMA!