There are so many phenomenal prospects in Mixed Martial Arts today, and it isn’t easy keeping track of every new face. So here I will highlight five top prospects you should look out for in the first edition of 5 For Fighting in 2017.
While the heavyweight division isn’t the deepest top prospects in the division have managed to make interesting again. While most of the heavyweight prospect hype is surrounding Derek Lewis and former 5 For Fighting prospect Francis Ngannou, lesser known Justin Ledet is a prospect to watch in 2017. Undefeated through eight fights, Ledet has become one of the most intriguing prospects within the division. “El Blanco” made a successful UFC debut against Chase Sherman at UFC Fight Night 92 and followed it up with a submission win over Mark Godbeer at UFC Fight Night 99.
The Rosharon, Texas native is also undefeated in professional boxing through five matches and often shows off his boxing skills in the cage. What makes him an interesting heavyweight in Mixed Martial Arts is the fact that he isn’t the typical striker with huge knockout power. Instead, he is a volume boxer with good footwork and knows how to use his 6’4 frame and 80’ reach to his advantage. His speed and knowledge of the sweet science can cause a multitude of issues for many in the heavyweight division.
The next fight for Justin Ledet will take place at UFC Fight Night 104 at the Toyota Center in his home state of Texas. It won’t be an easy night for the hometown favorite as he takes on fellow highly regarded undefeated prospect Dmitry Sosnovskiy. It will be intriguing to see how this fight plays out. Both men are skilled strikers with proven submission ability and an undefeated record. The 28-year-old Justin Ledet has a great deal of upside and a win here will undoubtedly give him a higher profile fight next.
The featherweight division is really picking up as top prospects become contenders. However, there are still many lesser known prospects in the division who have real championship potential. One of those prospects is undefeated 26-year-old Martin Buschkamp. The Planet Eater trained fighter has emerged as one of the very best fighters in Germany winning all nine of his professional bouts. Seven of his wins have come by way of submission giving him an impressive 78 percent submission ratio.
Recently signed by the UFC the Itapira, São Paulo, Brazil-born submission specialist was expected to make his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 93. Unfortunately, Alex Enlund pulled out of the fight with an injury forcing Buschkamp to postpone his debut.
While his game is still not completely rounded Buschkamp is athletic enough to compete inside the octagon. Expertly timed takedowns and a strong submission game highlight the best parts of his game. While his stand-up still needs a great deal of work he does a good job keeping opponents at bay with powerful leg kicks and has the ability to explode into his takedowns. There are flashes of solid striking in his game but it is an area that needs improvement before facing the top featherweights of the UFC.
Great lightweight fighters are not hard to come by. The division is arguably the deepest in the sport today. However, having great fighters at every turn make it easy to miss other great up and coming talent the division has to offer. Adam Piccolotti is one of the best prospects in the game today. Undefeated through nine fights and amassing a perfect 5-0 record under the Bellator banner, Adam Piccolotti is making his case as a top lightweight performance after performance.
The 28-year-old Half Moon Bay, California native is coming off of a huge win over Brandon Girtz at Bellator 165. Piccolotti has proven himself with a very efficient grappling attack winning the majority of his fights by submission. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has also shown an impressive will to win with the ability to come back from behind and grab the victory. It is safe to say Adam Piccolotti is on his way to contendership in the Bellator lightweight division, but it won’t be an easy road.
At Bellator 174 the grappling specialist will take on fellow undefeated prospect Brent Primus. Thus far Primus has shown the ability to compete against solid competition himself and also has a well-rounded game that could give Piccolotti a real challenge in his attempt to break through the top ranks in 2017. With a wealth of potential and time to improve it will be compelling to see how Piccolotti deals with the moment. Bellator has a solid lightweight division but Piccolotti has everything need to rise to the occasion as a true challenger for the title.
Undefeated BAMMA fighter Pietro “Pitbull” Menga might be one of the scariest prospects in the flyweight division. At 13-0 with a 85 percent finish ratio Menga has proven himself one of the most prolific finishers in the division. In his last fight the England born fighter made his promotional debut under the Bellator banner at Bellator 158 despite the promotion not officially having a flyweight division.
The submission skills of Menga are remarkable and his speed and technical ability has really played a factor in his undefeated streak. On top of his submission game The MMA Academy Liverpool product has shown one punch knockout power most flyweights don’t have. Standing at 5’7 Menga uses his range well on the feet and while he is undoubtedly more of a submission threat his well rounded skills make him one of the absolute best flyweight fighters outside of the UFC.
If there is one thing I’ve learned watching woman compete in MMA it is that you probably shouldn’t fight the polish woman. Agnieszka Niedźwiedź is no exception to that. Undefeated in eight professional contest the bantamweight and flyweight competitor is one of the best prospects in the world. Tearing through the regional circuit Niedźwiedź is a Cage Warriors and Invicta veteran and recently secured her biggest career win finishing Samara Santos in the third round at Ladies Fight Night 4.
Agnieszka Niedźwiedź brings a fan favorite aggressive style that has become familiar with top polish women in the sport. That a style has given the extremely talented 21-year-old Grappling Kraków product a 78 percent finish ratio. Possibility the most promising young prospect in the bantamweight and flyweight division, “Kuma” is ranked number one regionally in Europe Eastern, Poland, United Kingdom, Ireland according to Tapology. It will be compelling to see where the Polish fighter goes moving forward as she is undoubtedly the prospect to watch currently.