The Beaten Path: Flyweight Prospects the UFC Should Sign
If you take a look at the UFC's flyweight roster, you will notice how thin it is. In fact, there are barely enough fighters in the division to get the total number of fighters into the teens.
With the latest signing of Darrell Montague, UFC appears to be on the verge of finally packing its flyweight division with talent. Montague was probably the best prospect in the flyweight division who was not currently in the UFC.
With that, let's take a look at a few flyweight prospects who could bolster the 125-pound division. Below is the current UFC flyweight roster.
- Demetrious Johnson (USA)
- Joseph Benavidez (USA)
- Chris Cariaso (USA)
- Ian McCall (USA)
- John Dodson (USA)
- John Lineker (BRA)
- John Moraga (USA)
- Darren Uyenoyama (USA)
- Tim Elliott (USA)
- Jussier da Silva (BRA)
- Louis Gaudinot (USA)
- Phil Harris (UK)
- Marcos Vinicius (BRA)
- Azamat Gashimov (RUS)
- Iliarde Santos (BRA)
- Jose Maria Tome (BRA)
- Ali Bagautinov (RUS)
- Darrell Montague (USA)
Josh Sampo and Alptekin Ozkilic
Sampo's Record: 9-2
Ozkilic's Record: 8-1
Sampo's Notable Wins: Czar Sklavos, Antonio Banuelos, Alexis Vila
Ozkilic's Notable Wins: Josh Robinson, Antonio Banuelos
I include Josh Sampo and Alp Ozkilic on the same slide here because they are products of St. Charles MMA. With that, the teammates have stormed up the flyweight rankings as of late due to their big-name victories and refined all-around games.
Sampo is a submission specialist with good wrestling and control on the ground. Five of his nine wins have come via tapout, including a fifth-round guillotine choke of Bellator vet and Olympic wrestler Alexis Vila.
His striking is still coming along, but his ability to control opponents on the ground is a huge asset. If he keeps knocking off top flyweights outside the UFC, there is no doubt he will be with the company soon.
As for Ozkilic, his biggest win came in his last fight when he knocked UFC veteran Antonio Banuelos clean out. He is the better striker than Sampo, but that doesn't mean he can't grapple. In fact, Ozkilic is also a solid wrestler with good ground-and-pound as well as tapout ability.
These two could become staples of the UFC flyweight division when given the call.
Adriano Moraes and Giovanni Santos Jr.
Moraes' Record: 9-0
Santos' Record: 12-2
Moraes' Notable Wins: Michael Costa, Dileno Lopes
Santos' Notable Wins: Rafael Santos, Stenio Barbosa
OK, so Giovanni Santos Jr. and Adriano Moraes aren't teammates like Alp Ozkilic and Josh Sampo in the last slide, but why not condense the two Brazilian prospects into one super slide?
Moraes burst onto the scene recently, taking out the heavily favored Dileno Lopes at Shooto Brazil 40. Lopes, a veteran of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 1, went into the third round with Moraes, when he ate a devastating kick to the body. Lopes crumbled, and Moraes tossed his name into a short list of top prospects at 125.
Although he has very good striking ability, he is more than a one-dimensional fighter. He owns an equal amount of knockouts and submission wins (three each) on his unblemished record.
As for Santos, he has not lost since 2009, and since then, he has looked like a standout on the tough Brazilian fighting scene. Like Moraes, he is well-rounded, with eight of his 12 wins coming by finish (five knockouts, three submissions).
The more the UFC ventures into Brazil, the more Brazilian talent it will need to fill the home-country quota. Santos and Moraes could not only fill that need but bolster the lightly filled flyweight division.
couldn't find a picture of Menga/fanpop.com
Notable Wins: Artemij Sitenkov, Mark Platts, Steve McCombe
Pietro Menga may not sound like a stereotypical, John Smith-type of British name, but the UK-based mixed martial artist is probably the best 125er on the island.
Menga's record is currently unblemished fighting in the British MMA circuit. He has finished all but one of his fights, including seven finishes via submission. Among the submissions that he has utilized are the rear-naked choke, guillotine choke, arm-triangle choke and armbar.
A step-up in competition would be a good thing for Menga, whether he wins or loses. It would show if he needs improvements in his all-around game or if he is the real deal.
Notable Wins: Tuan Pham, Anthony Figueroa, Dave Morgan
The march of the submission artists continues. This time, it's American Sean Santella.
"Shorty Rock" is a wrestler by trade who trains at AMA Fight Club with Frankie Edgar and company. Nine of his 13 wins have come on the ground, as he uses a combination of wrestling and submission prowess to overwhelm opponents.
Not only that, but Santella can fight off his back. A lot of wrestlers are like turtles when they are planted on the mat, but he has no problems, even though he is better on top.
He would be competitive with any man on the roster right now.
Notable Wins: Ulysses Gomez, Hiroyuki Abe
Nicknamed "M16," Rambaa Somdet is a natural strawweight (115 pounds). However, he doesn't let the weight difference in his fights affect the eventual outcome that he craves: a win.
Somdet was born in Thailand, so it's no wonder that his main style is Muay Thai. He possesses great striking and solid hips, which allow him to keep the fight standing.
He is not going to be confused with John Dodson or Demetrious Johnson in terms of speed, but he would be one of the fastest guys in the cage if he were on the UFC roster.
Notable Wins: Josh Robinson, Dillard Pegg
If there is a definition of a prospect, it has to be Sergio Pettis. Not even old enough to legally drink yet, Pettis is undefeated in MMA competition and looking to make the big time soon.
He is also the brother of top UFC lightweight Anthony Pettis. This is no wonder, as he has the great tae kwon do acumen of his brother.
He is looking for that big-name win to add to his resume. He has beaten some solid opposition, but a keynote win would push his stock through the roof.