The Top 11 Prospects in MMA

It seems like in recent weeks many of the highest ranked prospects have signed to big promotions. Top-ranked light heavyweight prospect Marcos Rogerio de Lima signed with Strikeforce. Another talented light heavyweight, Ronny Markes signed with the UFC. Top ranked middlewieht prospect, Papy Abedi signed with the UFC. Highly thought of weltweight prospect Yuri Villefort signed with Strikeforce. Top ranked heavyweight prospect Stipe Miocic signed with UFC. Prospects are always emerging. However, in our opinion here is a list of the 11 best prospects in the sport. By prospect we mean guys who have not really had a shot in a big time promotion. There are several journeymen and veterans who are more highly sought after, but there are our top prospects.

Rank Name Record Weight Class
1 Gunnar Nelson  8-0 WW
2 Glover Teixiera 12-2   LHW
3 Alexander Sarnavskiy  14-0  LW
4 Jimi Manuwa  9-0  LHW
5 Robert Drysdale  3-0  LHW
6 Guram Gugenishvili 11-0   HWT
7 Tom Watson 14-4   MW
8 Bruno Santos 11-0   MW
9 Vyacheslav Vasilevsky 15-1  MW
10 Yoel Romero Palacio  4-0  LHW
11 Reza Madadi 11-2  LW

One interesting thing to note is that while there seems to be a consensus regarding many of these prospects’ potential, many of them have roadblocks to coming to UFC or Strikeforce. For example, Glover Teixera has been sought after for a long time, but visa issues have prevented him from fighting in UFC. In fact, one time he signed a deal with them, but his visa problems prohibited him from debuting. Glover has a few fights planned this fall including a fight with Marcio Cruz. He says that his visa issues will be cleared by then and he will sign with a big promotion. Yoel Romero Palacio is very talented, but his visa problems continue as well. Icelandic prospect Gunnar Nelson could sign anywhere, but he doesn’t seem to be in a rush at all. Vasilevsky, Gugenishvili, and Sarnavskiy are all unknowns. They have not fought the best of the best, but appear to be great prospects. However, their conenction with M-1 may prevent them from signing with a promotion such as UFC much as it did for Fedor.  They need to be tested.  By the time a fighter reaches 10-0 or better he may need stiffer competition to prove himself in the game.  It is quite possible for any of those guys to look to fight for Strikeforce, UFC or even Bellator, however many face roadblocks.  However, look for Bruno Santos, Jimi Manuwa, Reza Madadi and Robert Drysdale to be signed somewhere by year’s end. Manuwa returns from an injury and will fight in September. A win there will probably get him a UFC offer. Bruno Santos just wont the Bitetti middleweight tournament where he notched 3 wins in a night. There will be more people calling for his signing in UFC or Strikeforce. Robert Drysdale is perhaps the best jiu jitsu practitoner in the world. The UFC has obvious interest in him. He just submitted Mike Nickels in his third MMA fight. He may be one win away from an offer.

Other prospects to keep an eye on: Edinaldo Oliveira, Thiago Meller, Hacran Dias, Kevin Belingon, Jimmie Rivera, Yan Cabral, Al Iaquinta, Lukasz Sajewski, Assan Njie, and Bruno Carvalho.

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