The prospect pipeline is an important part of MMA. It’s the lifeblood of the sport that continues to bring us new talent and stars in the sport. That’s why it’s vital to mixed martial arts and its continued success among the masses.
It’s also why we must constantly keep our eyes on those up-and-coming fighters, so we can start to plan for the future. That’s what we will do on a monthly basis, so we now turn to November to see what fighters to keep an eye on.
|Jarred Brooks||def. Jun Nakamura via KO|
|Mateusz Gamrot||def. Renato Gomes via heel hook|
|Saul Rogers||def. Michael Adalena via RNC|
|Maxim Grisin||loss to Magomed Ankalaev via TKO|
|Vladimir Mineev||Did not compete|
Rafael Lovato Jr.
When: Nov 11
Where: Legacy FC 62: Lovato vs. Coleman
You can never get enough top-level middleweights or top middleweight prospects, as the higher the weight class, the less available fighters at a high level. Lovato finds himself a top prospect that has a chance to get to the big leagues quickly given his credentials and potential.
Lovato is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that has competed at a very high level. He is just 3-0 as a pro mixed martial artist, but in that time he has captured the middleweight strap in Legacy FC. He has finished all three of his bouts against more experienced fighters, showing that he has great potential to move on to the big leagues, eventually.
He headlines the Legacy FC card this month when he takes on Bellator vet Cortez Coleman for Lovato’s Legacy FC Middleweight Championship. Coleman is a strong wrestler, which could make it tough for Lovato to get the fight down. We will see if he has enough all-around skills to figure out the brutish middleweight.
When: Nov 11
Where: ONE Championship: Defending Honor
Women’s strawweight is among the most exciting divisions in all of MMA. They have an abundance of great talent that makes it an absolute shark tank of competition. One of the best prospects the division has is Nicolini, who will fight under the bright lights of ONE Championship this month.
Nicolini is a high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt that has made a solid move to MMA thus far. She is 2-1, with her only loss coming to the criminally underrated Norma Center. Her two wins both came via submission, including one over TUF veteran Lanchana Green, who has proven to be a solid prospect herself.
On her plate now is Mona Samir, a fighter who is a veteran of the ONE Championship promotion. It looks to be a welcome fight for Nicolini, who was a sought after prospect by the company. Look for her skills to be on display in what should be a gimme fight for this very dangerous 115-pounder.
When: Nov 11
Where: EFCA Worldwide 55
The South African MMA scene is very underrated in the world of fighting, especially when it comes to exciting fights. It is also home to Angolan fighter Pena, who has emerged as an under-the-radar, exciting prospect in the bantamweight division.
Pena is 11-0 thus far in his career and has captured the ECA Bantamweight Championship in that time. The knock on Pena is that he’s not a proficient finisher, something he will want to address before the UFC or another larger promotion. That said, he’s highly athletic and swarms on opponents. He’s a stifling fighter that makes opponents uncomfortable and continues to win fights.
Next, he will take on Irshaad Sayed in a title defense. Sayed is an 11-2 South African fighter that will serve as a solid test for the champ. Continuing to improve his record will be a big statement in his hunt to get to bigger money and exposure.
When: Nov 4
Where: Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis
I don’t normally include Bellator fighters on these lists, but I feel it would be highway robbery if I ignored the talent and potential of Ruth. He was a massive signing by the company, especially given the hype he has as an amateur wrestler.
Ruth has not yet competed as a pro mixed martial artist, so this fight will certainly be a measuring stick. Ruth wrestled at a high level and now trains with Greg Jackson down in New Mexico. That means he is under the guidance of one of the best coaches in mixed martial arts, which should help him learn quickly and strategize correctly.
He is given a measuring stick fight against Mark Mangiardi in his debut, an amateur who didn’t find that much success before taking this pro bout. Keep your eye on Ruth, as he has the raw ability and skill to be successful in the sport if the ship stays the course.
When: Nov 23
Where: Victory FC 53
Victory FC has been a solid promotion for prospects as of late, especially because their fights are now on UFC Fight Pass. They have really been stepping it up in their signings, including Stots, one of the best bantamweights emerging in the regional scene right now.
Stots is a big bantamweight at 5-foot-9 and highly athletic as well. The Roufusport product is 6-0 thus far in his pro career and has shown that he is an all-around threat. He has the ability to knock you out or tap you out on the ground, making him a little more tough to game plan for.
Stots now has a huge fight on his hands when he takes on respected veteran Jeff Curran, a man whose been around the block a time or two. Stots needs this victory to solidify himself as a top bantamweight prospect outside of the UFC. If he can win, expect the UFC to get him on their radar.