The LHW division has long been the glamour MMA division. Some of the sports biggest rivalries and most prolific fights have come from Light Heavyweight. Even the fight known for causing the UFC inspiration, Forrest Griffin v.s. Stephan Bonnar, was fought at Light Heavyweight. These fighters have shown they have all the necessary tools to bring excitement and depth back to the Light Heavyweight division.
I have created this list after watching hours of fights from different MMA Promotions from all over the world. The rules were simple:
- The fighter could not have greater than 3 fights in the UFC.
- Fighter must be under the age of 30.
*As in all things in life, there can and will be exceptions
Marcel Fortuna is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu blackbelt and is as technical as they come on the ground. He seems a bit undersized for 205lbs and could use some work in his stand up game, but his perfect record in 2014 shows he is someone to watch.
Neal Ewing has only fought once in each of the last two years but has looked very good each time. He controls the cage extremely well and no one has been able to keep up with him yet. If he can piece together a few wins down in Texas in 2015 he could become a force
Darren has only had two professional fights but has looked specular in each. He is a first degree Taekwondo-do black belt with spectacular speed. Interested to see him take a fight outside of round one to see if he can maintain his frantic pace.
Karl Albrektsson is extremely fun to watch and seems to be improving drastically with every fight. He isn’t as comfortable on his feet as some of the others on this list, but he is great in scrambles and seems to always end up in top position. If the Swedish Ivan Drago, yes im giving him a new nickname, keeps up this pace, he will be a fan favorite very soon.
At just 25 years old Mikhail already fights as if he is a ten-year veteran. He hasn’t lost since 2010 and has victories over Valentijn Overeem and our number 7 ranked fighter, Artur Astakhov. His wrestling and ground attack is solid, but if he wants to be considered one of the Top LHW in the world he needs to develop some better stand up. It appears Mikhail is just scratching the surface of his potential.
Country: Northern Ireland
Karl is tall and uses his reach advantage over most opponents to his advantage. Has good power and has the ability to take 1 to give 2. He needs to focus on his wrestling, blatantly his kryptonite at this point. He only fought once last year, so Cage Warriors needs to make sure this changes in 2015 for Moore to reach his potential.
Artur was knocked out for the first and only time on April 29th, 2012. Since then he has gone an amazing 9-0 with 6 KO’s and 3 submissions. He throws some pretty amazing combinations and moves flawlessly to the ground and pound. If he can add any type of wrestling game he will be a force at LHW
Stephan is as scrappy as they come. He can trade leather with the top tier of the 205lb fighters and give as well as he gets. He has the ability to finish with his ground game or on his feet. If he can stay out of trouble and keep his chin down he will be fighting the best in M-1 for a long time.
It is unclear if Ken will continue to fight at LHW or Heavyweight, but very obvious he has a lot of potential. IF he is willing to cut the weight he could be a force in the LHW division. He is a smart fighter who stays out of trouble and uses all of his tools to gain a victory by any means necessary. 2015 should tell us a lot about the stock of this talented fighter.
The cousin of UFC Lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov is another exception to our rule of a prospect being under the age of 30. He has a killer instinct and is surging at this point in his career. He fought 6 times in 2014 and finished all of his fights except 1. Look for Shamil to be on American promotions radar very very soon.
Abdul has finished every one of his last 8 fights and has not left the first round in any of them. Big power and the ability to finish on the ground makes him a problem for anyone at 205lbs. Hopefully we see him in M-1 or Cage Warriors in 2015 to see how dangerous he can be against top competition.
Gamzatov is exactly what comes to mind when you think of Russian MMA. He grinds you down, he wears you out, and then he smashes you. He is a jiu-jitsu world champion and has amazing defensive power. I would love to see him against some of the top competition in 2015
Very impressive ground game and vicious ground and pound. Hands are improving with every fight. Hasn’t lost since 2012. Has wrestling skills not often seen outside of the U.S. Could become a star in Bellator in 2015. If he puts in the work he has the ability to compete with the best in the world within any organization. Look for him to get a high profile fight in Bellator in 2015.
I know what you are thinking; I may as well have titled these rankings, “From Russia with Love”. It’s not that I don’t think there is talent here in the U.S., it just seems that many of the younger Asian and European fighters are on another level right now. Feel free to prove me wrong. Agree or disagree I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, shoot me an e-mail or as always you can find me on twitter @TimmyStreetz. Next week we move to the Middleweights, so let us know who you think should make the Top 10 Prospect list. Until then, keep your hands up and your chin down…
|Ranking||Name||Record||Last Fight||Next Fight|
|1||Marcin Tybura||12 Wins 0 Losses||R1 Submission over Denis Smoldarev||Not Announced|
|2||Dmitriy Sosnovskiy||8 Wins 0 Losses||R1 TKO over Ivo Cuk||Not Announced|
|3||Chi Lewis Parry||6 Wins 0 Losses||R1 TKO over Alain Ngalani||Not Announced|
|4||Timothy Johnson||8 Wins 1 Loss||R1 TKO over Travis Wiuff||Fights Shamil Abdurahimov at UFC Fight Night on April 4th in Fairfax, VA, USA|
|5||Smealinho Rama||9 Wins 1 Loss||R1 TKO over Derrick Mehmen||Not Announced|
|6||Javy Ayala||8 Wins 3 Losses||R1 Submission over Raphael Butler||Not Announced|
|7||Cody East||9 Wins 1 Loss||R1 TKO over Vernon Lewis||Fights Joe Cason at Legacy Fighting Championship 40 on March 20th in Duluth, GA, USA|
|8||Joe Cason||9 Wins 1 Loss||R1 TKO over Robert Morrow||Fights Cody East at Legacy Fighting Championship 40 on March 20th in Duluth, GA, USA|
|9||Augusto Sakai||7 Wins 0 Losses||R1 TKO over Matt Frembling||Not Announced|
|10||Tom Aspinall||1 Win 0 Losses||R1 Submission over Michael Piszczek||Fights Ricky King at BAMMA 18 on February 21st in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England|
|HM||Curtis Blaydes||2 Wins 0 Losses||R1 TKO over Brad Faylor||Not Announced|
|HM||Brandon Griffin||4 Wins 0 Losses||R1 TKO over Tyler East||Not Announced|
|HM||Tanner Boser||6 Wins 0 Losses||R3 TKO over Jordan Tracey||Fights Tim Hague at Unified-MMA 22 on March 20th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada|