The Beaten Path: 5 Heavyweight Prospects the UFC Should Sign
Another year, another edition of the infamous "5 Prospects the UFC Should Sign" series.
We as MMA fans are a little older and a little wiser. We're getting accustomed to more and more MMA popping up in the mainstream.
It wasn't long ago that the UFC and Bellator were seemingly the only options on TV. Now, in addition to the UFC being featured on the Fox networks and Bellator on Spike TV, CBS Sports has Titan Fighting Championship and NBC Sports has World Series of Fighting, among other things.
First, we take a look at the heavyweights. It's a division that has recently grown with talent, some of whom would have made this list. Guys like Jack May, Ruan Potts, Alexey Oleinik and Ruslan Magomedov were recently acquired by the UFC and plan on fighting in the near future.
For now, we focus on five more guys the UFC can bring in. They are a mix of vets and young guns, but all should be considered prospective fighters for the world's largest MMA promotion.
As this is the third annual installment of the list, it's good to look back and see what fighters were included in the previous years.
Two of our prospects have made their way to the UFC in Jared Rosholt and Derrick Lewis. Both acquisitions were made within the last year.
Lewis has yet to debut due to injuries, but he is scheduled to finally fight in April against a man that would have made the list this year in Jack May.
Rosholt is 1-0 with the UFC, owning a decision win over Walt Harris. He is currently scheduled to take on Polish fighter Daniel Omielanczuk in Abu Dhabi next month.
As for the men that didn't make the UFC, most are still guys that should get a look from the company. Here is a full rundown of everybody included.
|Guram Gugenishvili||Derrick Lewis|
|Jared Rosholt||Damian Grabowski|
|Magomed Malikov||Maro Perak|
|Tyler East||Smealinho Rama|
|Shamil Abdurahimov||Satoshi Ishii|
Last Fight: Knockout win vs. Aleksander Emelianenko
A teammate of recent UFC signee Alexey Oleinik, Dmitriy "Wicked Machine" Sosnovskiy lives true to his nickname. His is indeed a wicked machine.
Coming in at 6'3", 245 pounds, Sosnovskiy is a young gun at 24 years old that has been a pro since late 2012. In that time, he has finished six of his eight foes, including Aleksander Emelianenko in his latest outing.
He has a ferocious ground game that includes heavy ground-and-pound and great control. He holds men down and punishes them for even stepping into the ring with him.
Seeing how the UFC has been eyeing talent from the Russian area as of late, I would not be surprised if Sosnovskiy ventures his way toward the company. This could be especially true since his teammate Oleinik was just grabbed by the UFC.
Last Fight: Knockout win vs. Rameau Sokoudjou
This spot was originally reserved for fellow Russian Ruslan Magomedov, but his recent signing to the UFC allows Konstantin Erokhin to snag his spot.
Although relatively young in his MMA career and having to stand out over other Russian heavyweights, Erokhin seems to be a true prospect. Although he is 32 years old, the 5'11", 226-pound powerhouse has only been fighting professionally since 2012.
After dropping his pro debut to Denis Goltsov, Erokhin stormed back like a bat out of hell to rattle off five straight wins. All of them were in the first round and all came via his brutal striking and uncanny power.
His last two wins have really turned heads. First, he blasted through Denis Komkin with a nasty one-punch KO before taking out UFC and Pride vet Rameau Sokoudjou with ease.
He has been fighting for the Fight Nights promotion in Russia, which seems to be the unofficial feeder organization of Russian talent to the UFC. His weight could be a concern, though, and he could end up making a move to light heavyweight if needed.
Last Fight: Decision win vs. Steve Mocco
This is the second time Smealinho Rama makes the list. That shows how special this fighter can be in the future.
Many people were high on the 21-year-old Canadian before he was savagely knocked out by an Anthony Hamilton head kick last year. Interest in him cooled off a bit, but it has surged back courtesy of a decision win over fellow prospect and Olympic wrestler Steve Mocco last month.
Rama is a young kid who has an extremely bright future in this sport. He is already a 6'0", 251-pound monster who is probably not done filling out his frame. That is a scary thought.
Add to that the fact that Rama has dynamite in his hands and a polished ground game, and you have yourself a future UFC staple.
And forget the head-kick loss to Hamilton. He simply got caught with a Hall of Fame-worthy blow that came out of left field (although it was impressive).
Last Fight: Decision win vs. Darrill Schoonover
Had you asked me a year ago what I thought of Anthony Hamilton, I would have responded with a confident "Not much." If you ask me today, I would have a completely opposite answer.
Like many fighters before him, Hamilton has greatly benefited from becoming a Greg Jackson disciple. He went from a middling heavyweight on a two-fight skid to Walt Harris and Fabiano Scherner to a man possessed on a six-fight surge holding Maximum Fighting Championship gold.
Hamilton is a striker through and through. That being said, he can take you down as well if needed.
He is a big heavyweight. Standing at 6'5" and weighing in around 260 pounds, he will not be physically outsized by many guys in the UFC outside of monsters like Antonio Silva, Stefan Struve and a few other people.
He has the right connections with Greg Jackson, and he certainly is building the resume. Recent wins over Smealinho Rama (on this list) and UFC vet Darrill Schoonover really have this heavyweight close to the big time.
Last Fight: Submission win vs. Konstantin Gluhov
I had a tough time deciding between Damian Grabowski and Marcin Tybura. After considering what points in their respective careers they are in, Tybura got the nod.
In my opinion, Tybura may be the best heavyweight prospect outside the UFC this point. He is one of many Polish fighters the UFC needs to take a serious look at. They could add some serious depth to multiple divisions.
Looking at Tybura, the undefeated Pole stands at 6'3" and weighs in around the 250 mark. He uses every bit of that size to grab a hold of his foe, ground them and beat them up like a schoolyard bully does a frail, defenseless kid.
If the following facts aren't scary, I don't know what is. Not only has Tybura submitted four men and knocked out one, he has forced two men to quit their fights against him, whether it was having the towel thrown in or quitting on the stool. That's how bad the beatings were.
Add to that three straight wins over respected vets Denis Komkin, Chaban Ka and Konstantin Gluhov, and you have yourself a guy bound for big things in the near future.
Oh yeah, and he is only 28 years old.