Best Asian MMA Prospect by Division

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2012

Best Asian MMA Prospect by Division

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    Asia is the birthplace of many forms of martial arts and is home to some of the most legendary names in the sport's history.

    Currently, names like Cung Le, Dong Hyun Kim and Chan Sung Jung grace the UFC with their skill and competitive spirit. They are top guys in their divisions and represent the Asian continent.

    Here are the best Asian MMA prospects by division.

    See previous piece in series here, "Best European MMA Prospect by Division."

Flyweight: Haruo Ochi

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    Origin: Japan

    Record: 9-2-1

    Current Shooto employee Haruo Ochi is an incredible flyweight talent that needs to make the move to the UFC.

    The 28-year-old Japanese fighter owns four knockouts and two submissions in his four-year career. He has great power for a 125-pound fighter and good grappling ability.

    Japan should provide some solid flyweights as the division grows, and Ochi should find his way over to the UFC.

    Runners-up: Kentaro Watanabe (Japan) and Mikihito Yamagami (Japan)

Bantamweight: Yoshiro Maeda

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    Origin: Japan

    Record: 30-11-4

    It's hard to label a 45-fight veteran a prospect, but 30-year-old Yoshiro Maeda has the potential to be a big-show fighter.

    Maeda is a WEC, Dream and Deep veteran who always found himself in the middle. He has great kicks and respectable submissions, owning 14 knockouts and six submission wins.

    Maeda is only 30 years old, so it is possible he could earn his way to the UFC.

    Runners-up: Motonobu Tezuka (Japan) and Kyoji Horiguchi (Japan)

Featherweight: Doo Ho Choi

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    Origin: South Korea

    Record: 9-1

    Since I no longer consider Chan Sung Jung a prospect, countryman Doo Ho Choi is now the best Asian featherweight prospect.

    Only 21 years old, Choi owns six knockouts and a submission. The Sengoku and Deep veteran has dynamic striking skills and an exciting style that American fans are not familiar with yet.

    Letting him develop more may be smart, but one has to think he will grace the UFC in the future.

    Runners-up: Shintaro Ishiwatari (Japan) and Joe Taimanglo (Guam)

Lightweight: Jadamba Narantungalag

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    Origin: Mongolia

    Record: 8-2

    Although he is in his late 30s, Jadamba Narantungalag is still considered a prospect because he has only had 10 fights in his career.

    Despite that number, Narantungalag is highly skilled and a solid prospect.

    The Mongolian has finished five opponents, four of which were by submission. He holds a notable win against Australian lightweight staple Adrian Pang, in which he showed his toughness.

    There are no Mongolians in the UFC (Tiequan Zhang is from Outer Mongolia, China), so Narantungalag could give that nation someone to root for.

    Runners-up: Takasuke Kume (Japan) and Isao Kobayashi (Japan)

Welterweight: Keita Nakamura

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    Origin: Japan

    Record: 24-5-2

    Although Keita Nakamura is a UFC veteran, he is still a top prospect from Asia. His UFC debut came at the age of 22, showing he may have been too young and inexperienced to take that step up.

    Nakamura owns 11 submission wins along with four knockouts. He has tapped out Yasubey Enomoto, knocked out Omar de la Cruz, won a decision over Adriano Martins and choked out Ronald Jhun. 

    With a resume like that, it seems that Nakamura deserves another chance to prove his first run was chalked up to inexperience.

    Runners-up: Myung Ho Bae (South Korea) and Hyun Gyu Lim (South Korea)

Middleweight: Seung Bae Whi

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    Origin: South Korea

    Record: 7-3

    South Korea's Seung Bae Whi is a knockout artist with all the power to put any opponent he touches to sleep.

    Whi has never been finished, but owns six of his wins by knockout. His latest win saw him knock out Pride and UFC veteran Denis Kang with brutal knees.

    South Korea is starting to provide the UFC with solid fighters, and Whi would definitely be another guy of that caliber.

    Runners-up: Riki Fukuda (Japan) and Asif Tagiev (Kazakhstan) 

Light Heavyweight: Yoshiyuki Nakanishi

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    Origin: Japan

    Record: 11-2 (1 NC)

    Asia is not really known for heavier fighters, but there are definitely a couple of Asian prospects who are intriguing.

    The most intriguing might be Yoshiyuki Nakanishi.

    While he may be better suited as a middleweight, the 27-year-old constantly fights at 205. 

    Nakanishi owns six knockouts and two submissions. He has beat Bellator champ Christian M'Pumbu and knocked out Ivorian kickboxer Bernard Ackah with a head kick in the past.

    Runners-up: Hiroshi Izumi (Japan) and Shinsho Anzai (Japan)

Heavyweight: Satoshi Ishii

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    Origin: Japan

    Record: 4-2-1

    Japanese judo ace Satoshi Ishii is only 25 years old, but has the skills to be a very good heavyweight fighter. 

    Despite losing by knockout to Fedor Emelianenko in his most recent outing, Ishii has notably beaten Ikuhisa Minowa and Jerome La Banner. He owns two wins by submission, a product of his Olympic-level judo game.

    Ishii needs a win or two before he can earn a call from the UFC, but he definitely has the talent to make it there.

    Runners-up: Levan Razmadze (Georgia) and Guram Gugenishvili (Georgia)