The Beaten Path: 5 Middleweight Prospects the UFC Should Sign
It's time to explore another edition of Prospects the UFC Should Sign.
We last left off with the light heavyweights. Now it's time to look at the middleweights.
The middleweight division has seen enormous changes of late. Long-time champion Anderson Silva has been dethroned, while Chris Weidman has grabbed the reins.
There are new faces emerging into the upper part of the division. Prospects are starting to develop and threaten the old landscape of the division.
So with that, we look at five middleweights the UFC should consider signing soon. These men would add depth to the division and be possible main carders.
As the third annual installment of this list, it's good to look back and see what fighters were included in previous years.
So far, four of the nine men included in this series have signed with the UFC. Those men are TUF 17 runner-up Uriah Hall, Tom Watson, Marcos Rogerio de Lima and Sean Strickland.
Hall was the man who terrorized TUF before coming to the UFC. He is currently 1-2 in the Octagon, falling to Kelvin Gastelum and John Howard before beating Chris Leben in a win-or-go-home situation.
Watson has failed to be consistent thus far in the UFC, though he has been in mostly close fights. He is 1-3 with the company, taking losses to Brad Tavares, Nick Catone and Thales Leites, and holding a win over Stanislav Nedkov.
Sean Strickland made a successful debut last weekend when he choked out Bubba McDaniel. He looks to have a bright future with the company and remains a top prospect.
Marcos Rogerio de Lima is a cast member of TUF Brazil 3, fighting up at heavyweight to compete. He is normally a middleweight, so it will be interesting to see if the UFC keeps him after the show so he can compete at 185.
|Uriah Hall||Michal Materla|
|Tom Watson||Wes Swofford|
|Elvis Mutapcic||Elvis Mutapcic|
|Chaun Sims||Marcos Rogerio de Lima|
|Jake Rosholt||Sean Strickland|
Last Fight: Knockout win vs. Adam Rodriguez
Although most of his work is done down in Peru, Ben Reiter is an American through and through. Not only that, but he is one of the best middleweights available to be signed by the UFC.
Known as "The Hunter," this 5'11" beast has been taking fights at light heavyweight and heavyweight just to stay busy. However, it is known that his true home is at 185 pounds.
He is a good wrestler with a frantic top game. He opens up opportunities to finish the fight with his hands and elbows, pouring on ground-and-pound with violent intent.
He has a solid submission game, but we don't see it as much as the concrete slabs he throws on the ground.
He is yet to be defeated and would benefit greatly from a step up in competition. A real keynote win over an established, respected vet would really put Reiter on the radar of the UFC.
Last Fight: Decision win vs. Ion Pascu
Formerly a prospect at 205 pounds, a loss to Jason Jones was the deciding factor for Max Nunes to make the drop to 185.
So far, it's looking like a magnificent decision.
The Swedish native went from being a medium-sized light heavyweight to a large middleweight. He stands at 6'2" and holds a muscular, lean frame that is perfect for his current weight class.
His nickname is "Power," which is fitting considering the ferocity with which he delivers everything. He is a destroyer on the feet, but also has the ability to catch you in a submission on the ground.
He is a finisher, too. The man has put away all but one of his foes, including Marcin Lazarz, Justin Davis and Ion Pascu. He has really cut his teeth in the European circuit with success.
The UFC will return to Sweden eventually, and when they do, they should have the number of Nunes handy. He could be a great addition to 185 and become an upper-midcard player, should he live up to his potential.
Last Fight: Knockout win vs. Mario Miranda
Several fighters from Russia and the surrounding area have been featured in this series.
Our next prospect, Ramazan Emeev, hails from the newfound hotbed of Dagestan.
Emeev, who may be a tad undersized at 5'10", has shown to be extremely game in his outings thus far.
The well-rounded sambo machine is a mixture of meathook punches and impressive takedowns, all of which equal a man accustomed to beating men up on the mat.
He has shown great growth in his stand-up as well. Not only did he best UFC veteran Mario Miranda two fights ago via a hard-fought decision, but he showed his improved stand-up by knocking Miranda out with brutal knees and punches in his most recent fight.
Those two wins over Miranda, who was a fairly successful UFC fighter, definitely prove that Emeev should be watched with a vigilant eye. He has shown his ability to hang with high-level fighters, now it's just a matter of having him sign the dotted line to prove he can hang with the best of the best.
Last Fight: Knockout win vs. Vitor Nobrega
I don't know the contract details that Bellator had with Slava Vasilevsky, but how they let this guy go is beyond me. He is an experienced and successful middleweight with the resume and skills to be a top guy with their company.
Instead, he is now running in the Russian MMA scene and could be a potential talent on the UFC roster.
That is, if they are suitors to get him.
Vasilevsky is just 25 years old and has already competed in the cage 25 times. That is astounding, as it shows how busy he is and how successful he has been in that short time.
He is a physically strong fighter, despite the fact that he is just 5'10". He may be a tad undersized, but his power and brute strength can somewhat make up for that.
He hasn't been beating pushovers, either. Vasilevsky has defeated UFC vet Xavier Foupa-Pokam, Trevor Prangley, Victor O'Donnell and Charles Andrade.
He has all the tools to be successful in the UFC. Now it's time to pull the trigger and get him in the 185-pound division ruled by men like Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida, where he should slowly build his way up.
Last Fight: Jorge Luis Bezerra
When I've picked British fighters as my top prospects in the past, those picks have occasionally come back to bite me in the butt.
I don't think that will be the case with Scott Askham when he eventually gets his shot.
Askham is a big, long middleweight, standing at 6'3". He has cut his teeth with the respectable Cage Warriors and BAMMA promotions, going undefeated in his pro career.
He is a striker with good power and technique. Six of his 13 wins come via knockout, including two which have come via head kick.
Like most British fighters, he is not the best wrestler, but his striking, footwork and ability to create distance can keep him out of shooting range for the most part. Of course, it would be beneficial for him to take on a true power wrestler to get a better glimpse into that aspect of his game.
Some have compared him to countryman Michael Bisping, though I think it's a little premature to compare him to somebody so successful at this stage. He does have the potential to be a long-lasting UFC vet and notch some victories given the chance, though.