The Beaten Path: 5 MMA Prospects to Watch in October
Our job here at the Beaten Path is to steer the casual fan toward the next wave of MMA stars. October is not short of up-and-coming talent, as promotions such as Bellator, Cage Warriors, CFA, RFA, Legacy FC, Maximum FC, Vale Tudo Japan, Road FC, One FC, Deep, XFC, PXC and World Series of Fighting all hold events this month.
With all that high-quality MMA going on and the new TV deals that many of them have made, there is also great access to that competition. Whether it's AXS TV, NBC Sports, Spike TV or the internet, we all will be able to witness a number of great up-and-coming talents.
With such a busy month, it's tough to narrow things down to five prospects. However, here are five prospects to watch in October.
5. Ivan Buchinger
Next Fight: Mick Sinclair, Oct. 5, Cage Warriors 60
See It: www.mmajunkie.com
Had it not been for Conor McGregor, who is now famous, Ivan Buchinger may have been in the UFC right now. The Slovakian has a strong 23-4 record against some good European talent.
Buchinger has good striking and a solid chin, but his submission game has been the keynote part of his game. Of his 23 wins, 13 have come by way of tapout, including his most recent win over Jamal Magomedov via an impressive triangle armbar.
With notable wins over Jason Ball, Diego Gonzalez and Mairbek Taisumov, it's only a matter of time before he hits the big show. A strong showing in the four-man tournament at Cage Warriors 60, against Sinclair and the winner of Stevie Ray-Jason Ball, could be his ticket to paradise.
4. Josh Sampo
Next Fight: Sam Thao, Oct. 12, CFA 12: Sampo vs. Thao
See It: AXS TV
If there is a flyweight that should enter the UFC in the near future, it's Josh Sampo. He has proven to be one of the best at 125 in his most recent bouts against top flyweight talent.
A college wrestler and submission fighter, Sampo has impressed lately with wins over Bellator vet and Olympic medalist Alexis Vila, as well as UFC and WEC vet Antonio Banuelos.
He dominates opponents with a skillful, methodical ground game. The St. Charles MMA product has Sam Thao up first, a man considered to be in the top 25 at 125.
Should he notch a victory at CFA 12, he could be getting a call from Joe Silva.
3. Alan Jouban
Next Fight: Mike Rhodes, Oct. 25, RFA 10: Rhodes vs. Jouban
See It: AXS TV
A professional since 2011, Alan Jouban has used his buzzsaw striking and physical toughness to run his record to 7-1. Considering that he is in the feeder organization to the UFC, he could get a call with a win this month over Mike Rhodes of Roufusport.
Jouban overly impressed in his latest outing at RFA 9, where he knocked out tough-as-nails UFC and Strikeforce vet Chris Spang with body shots and power punches to the head. He showed good takedown defense and a violent clinch game that could help him in a wrestling-heavy division.
Riding a six-fight win streak and going for RFA gold, Jouban will want to keep the fight upright against Rhodes. That will give him his best shot at victory and a call from the big leagues.
2. Henry Cejudo
Next Fight: Ryan Hollis, Oct. 11, Legacy FC 24: Page vs. Benoit
See It: AXS TV
If there is a prodigy in the 125-pound weight division with untapped potential, it is Henry Cejudo. He is an Olympic wrestler that has looked dominant in his four professional fights.
Legacy FC caught wind of this potential star, who has won all four of his fights in 2013. Not only is he occupied with current opponent Ryan Hollis, but he also has his sixth fight of the year scheduled for November against Elias Garcia.
His method is simple: takedown, smash and get the win. With his level of wrestling, he could be like Ben Askren, even though all of Cejudo's wins come from ground-and-pound in the first round.
Should Cejudo notch wins over Hollis and Garcia, he could find himself in the big leagues. He has the chance to be a real star in a division still in development.
1. Smealinho Rama
Next Fight: Anthony Hamilton, Oct. 4, MFC 38: Behind Enemy Lines
See It: AXS TV
What is essential for a key heavyweight prospect? How about a guy who is 21 years old, undefeated and already fighting for a title in a well-known organization.
That about sums up Smealinho Rama, a Canadian stud who has ran roughshod over the competition thus far. He has notched wins against Lee Mein, Ryan Fortin and Mike Hackert, which is a great resume for a guy just over a year into his MMA career.
The UFC is in desperate need for some depth at heavyweight and some of their recent attempts at padding the division have left them with some decent-at-best fighters with subpar cardio. Rama has never left the first round, showing he doesn't need cardio to be successful in a fight.