Before the fights go down this weekend, check in with the @MMAWizzard to learn all about the prospects worth watching at this week’s Alaska FC, ONE, Bellator, ACB, LFA, M-1, and Brave CF events. We’ve got in-depth analysis on each highlighted fighter’s technique and tendencies, plus plenty of video highlights to get you up to speed. Which prospects will shine this weekend and take the next step toward MMA stardom?
Alaska FC 131, Wednesday. (Alaska)
-MW, Jordan Wright (6-0): Training out of Team Jackson-Wink, “The Beverly Hills Ninja” has a background in kickboxing and he’s transitioned those skills well into his MMA career by winning two fights by head kick. His grappling is even better in my opinion. He has good wrestling and has the ability to take the back or pass into mount easily, and if you’re wondering about his submission skills he won his first amateur fight with a flying armbar. He hasn’t fought against a truly skilled opponent yet, but at middleweight you can’t really expect to find great competition at the small regional shows. He fights John Stern (2-2), who he just beat very easily in January at light heavyweight so I don’t really expect much from this fight.
One Championship, Friday. (Southeast Asia)
-LW, Ev Ting (13-3): 27 year old Malaysian Ev Ting has earned a shot at the ONE lightweight belt this weekend thanks to a four fight win streak in the promotion against Kamal Shalorous, Rob Lisita, Eric Kelly, and Honorio Banario. Ting is technically solid on the feet and on the mat, and he can be overwhelming and explosive while standing. He uses a lot of creative offense including lunging knees and leaping, hard straight punches, and also does a good job of mixing kicks into his combinations, ending two of his fights by head-kick. He has decent wrestling skills and is particularly nasty at grabbing on to the guillotine in transition. He fights Eduard Folayang (17-5) who just won the ONE lightweight belt in his last bout against JMMA legend Shinya Aoki. Folayang is solid all around so Ting might have a tough time in this fight.
Bellator 178, Friday. (New England)
-FW, Dominic Mazzotta (12-1): Mazzotta will get his first chance at fighting under the big lights when he debuts in Bellator this weekend. His wrestling is his bread and butter and he’s skilled in judo, trip takedowns, slams, double legs, and just tearing his opponent down to the mat with brute strength. He’s got decent ground and pound, but when he takes the back and hunts for the RNC that’s when he’s usually on the path to victory. On the feet Mazzotta hasn’t shown much yet, as he is a low volume striker even though he has power in his hands and decent kickboxing. That said, he’s had two fights in which he landed a head kick that resulted in a finish. Although Mazzotta can be a bit telegraphed he is no slouch, always moving forward with good cardio and always bringing a good pace. He fights top prospect AJ McKee on the Bellator 178 main card.
-FW, AJ McKee (7-0): As the son of Antonio McKee, there’s a lot of hype behind this guy and he is pretty talented. McKee has good wrestling and sticks to his game plan of shooting for takedowns consistently throughout the fight, and he’s shown good timing on the double leg or he can just suplex his opponent to the mat. On top, McKee moves well but his control and intelligent top position game are what stands out. His striking is good and still improving, and he is good in the clinch where he likes to attack with knees. Lately he has started to use more of his kickboxing, though the mat is where he really shows his high skill level. He fights Dominic Mazzotta, who is probably the toughest test of McKee’s career so far (and vice versa).
–MW, Ed Ruth (2-0): Ruth is one of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers in MMA today, as he was a 2012, 2013, and 2014 NCAA D1 Wrestling Champion, a four-time All-American, and a four-time Big Ten Champion. With that wrestling background and training with top camp Jackson-Wink MMA, he has really developed into a promising prospect just two fights into his career. Ruth has dominated in those fights by getting easy takedowns, and he’s shown off strong mount passes and some good BJJ back control skills. He also has finishing ability thanks to his heavy ground and pound. Ruth fights David Mundell (6-2) who has been in the cage with Mike Perry twice and who should be much more of a test than Ruth’s first two pro opponents.
-HW, Tyrell Fortune (2-0): A former Olympic wrestler, Tyrell Fortune made his debut 5 months ago in the Bellator cage where he dominated. He seemed to be capable on the feet but didn’t choose to stay there long. As soon as that fight went to the mat Fortune secured back control and landed hard punches to the side of the head and big knees to the ribs until the ref stopped the fight. In his second bout he had a slightly tougher time but was able to overcome some early adversity and use his wrestling and ground striking to get the TKO win in the second round. He fights Branko Busick (0-0) who is a heavy handed guy but I’m not sure exactly what to expect from him.
LFA 10, Friday. (US West)
-MW, Ian Heinisch (7-0): Heinisch’s cardio is his best aspect especially for his style and the kind of pace he likes to set at middleweight. He is a pure wrestler at heart and can get the takedown anywhere and anyway. Even if the takedown doesn’t come easily he is very relentless with his wrestling, always working and trying to drive his opponent to the mat. On top, Heinisch stays active throwing ground and pound and once he gets on top he will most likely be there until the end of the round. The problem with most pure wrestlers is once they can’t complete the takedown they fall apart on the feet, but that’s not the case with Heinisch who has shown that he does have some good striking. On the feet, expect Heinisch to throw hard straight punches and move forward with the takedown in mind. At LFA 10 he fights Brazilian Lucas Rota (12-6) who is decent but lacks the takedown defense needed to give Heinisch problems.
Editors’ Note: Watch out for flyweight Brandon Royval on this card, too! He’s got crazy jiu-jitsu skills.
Brave CF 5, Friday. (India)
-WW, Carl Booth (7-0): When needed England’s Booth can wrestle, as he has good top control and has shown the ability to threaten with both ground and pound and submissions. But on the feet is where he is the most dangerous, as he has already scored knockouts with his right hand, his left hand, and a head kick. Booth is a very calm fighter who keeps range well, throwing a lot of front kicks and relying heavily on his counter striking. He fights Tahar Hadbi (13-6) in the Brave CF 5 main event who is a heavy handed fighter who has won eight of his last nine bouts.
-FW, Gary Mangat (9-1): British Colombia native Gary Mangat is a very solid all-around fighter. On the feet he is mainly a kickboxer, he chops at the legs, goes to the body, and connects to the head and at times it’s all set up in fluid combinations. Mangat is also an excellent wrestler with nice timing on his double leg level changes. The way he is able to regularly catch his opponents’ kicks and take the fight down shows great awareness to go with his wrestling ability. Once in top position, Mangat has very sound ground and pound and he is always landing no matter what position he is in. He has also shown he is a threat at taking the back but his ground and pound may be his best weapon. He fights Abdul Muneer (6-2) of India who is dangerous as long as this stays standing. He has knockout power on the feet and on the mat but is very wild, often throwing technique completely out the window. Managat should be able to use his wrestling to get the win as Muneer has shown weak TDD so far.
-FW, Alex da Silva (18-0): I haven’t got to see nearly as much of this guy as I would like to but from what I’ve seen he is very talented. His boxing is top notch as he sticks to the proven method of first attacking the body and then the head. His combinations are excellent and his kickboxing is well done. In the fights I’ve watched I’ve seen strong kickboxing, a good chin, good TDD, solid ability to get back to his feet after being taken down, and good cardio. At only 21 years old his record is impressive at 18-0, and he’s finished every one of his fights with 12 by KO/TKO and 6 by submission. He faces 24 year old Polish fighter Jakub Kowalewicz (8-3) who won his last two fights by knockout and is one of the more dangerous opponent that da Silva has faced so far.
ACB 58, Saturday. (Russia)
-Fly, Askar Askarov (8-0): The reigning ACB flyweight champion, Askarov’s nickname is “The Bullet” and he represents that well by attacking in a straight line while packing a punch. The 24 year old is very explosive and as he darts in and out he throws his opponent off with amazing head movement. Askarov utilizes the jab well and has shown some pop in both his right and left hands. He’s also a very good, smothering grappler on the mat who gets the back often and is very tough to shake off from any grappling position. Askarov is always going for the submission, and he really can do it all with 5 wins by submission and 3 by TKO. After destroying Jose Maria Tome in his most recent fight Askarov now defends his ACB belt against Anthony Leone (15-7), a Bellator/WEC/Strikeforce vet who looked great last time out in an entertaining submission win over Rasul Albaskhanov. Leone is a very accomplished grappler but Askar is the new breed and should be on another level.
M-1 Challenge 76, Saturday. (Russia)
-BW, Movsar Evloev (6-0): Evloev doesn’t have much to offer on the feet but he makes up for it with his high-level grappling game. He’s very good at findinggrappling opportunities in his opponents’ mistakes, catching kicks, jumping on the back, and jumping on slips but he has also shown he can get the body lock and score the takedown. On the mat is where he is excellent, the little amount of time he has been on his back he has shown an ability to sweep and scramble to the top with ease. Evloev threatens with submissions but at this point is someone who is just as likely to dominate position and stick like glue to his opponent. He fights Alexei Nevzorov (12-2) for the M-1 interim bantamweight title. Nevzorov enters on a three bout win streak and is solid but in a fight I’m sure will go to the mat I’m positive Evloev deserves to be the favorite.