Bahrain Hosting IMMAF World Championships, Brave 9: Kingdom of Champions

Great things are happening in the sport of MMA in Bahrain.

The 2017 IMMAF World Championships, which has been taking place there all this week, is to MMA’s top amateur hopefuls what the Olympics is to such sports as Judo and Wrestling. And, as related to the competitors at this year’s World Championships by way of an official letter from UFC President Dana White, the eyes of fans, fighters, and promoters across the world will be firmly fixed on the action, with no shortage of interest in those able to make the podiums come the end of the week.

Speaking of the Olympics, the current target of making the 2028 Games from Los Angeles is looking an increasingly likely prospect, with this week’s competition effectively helping to pave the way for an even bigger and more legitimate platform for the top-ranking MMA fighters of the future.

So with the IMMAF 2017 World Championships semi-finals set to take place throughout the day on Thursday November 16, you would have been forgiven for thinking the Kingdom of Bahrain would have had it’s fill of vital MMA action. But that’s where proud partners and Manama-based MMA powerhouse Brave Combat Federation come into it. When the week’s amateur fight-based festivities come to a close and a series of new IMMAF World Champions are crowned, Brave CF will host Brave 9: Kingdom of Champions, showcasing some of the best and most exciting talent from around the world.

With no fewer than three World Championship belts up for grabs, few shows have been as aptly titled as ‘Kingdom of Champions’. In the main event, undefeated Moroccan Ottman Azaitar (9-0) will face Mexican Alejandro Martinez (4-1) for the 155 lbs crown, with Alejandro having bested stunned veterans Paulo Bananada and Fabian Quintanar courtesy of back-to-back finishes. Azaitar, a dominant force on the European scene prior to signing for Brave, will also have his sights set on a third straight win under the Brave banner, and plenty of confidence coming into this bout.

At featherweight, Algerian exponent Elias Boudegzdame (14-4) will look to follow up on first round submission wins over Walel Watson and Masio Fullen, but with UFC veteran Lucas ‘Mineiro’ Martins (19-3) standing across the cage, that could be easier said than done. Martins rides a four-fight win streak that includes a final UFC victory over tough Scot Rob Whiteford, a victory that closed out a 4-3 run in the promotion. He has never lost outside the UFC, and defeated Fabian Galvan by submission in his Brave debut.

Finally, with bantamweight gold on the line, Filipino favourite Stephen Loman (9-2) will look to become the first of his countrymen to win a major World Title beyond the confines of Asia. Gary ‘Saint Lion’ Mangat (10-1), a Canadian of Indian heritage, will look to prevent that, and snare his second Filipino scalp after his Brave CF debut win over Loman’s compatriot Troy Bantiag.

Amid of slew of other great fights, MMA legend Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante (21-10-1) will announce his presence to Brave CF fans as he faces German-based Iraqi stand out Alan Omer (20-5), while Jordanian Nawras Azbakh (6-0) faces Brazilian bantamweight ace Felipe Efrain (11-2). For us here at The MMA Vanguard, however, all eyes will be on Egyptian sensation Ahmed Amir (7-1), as one of our feature fighters faces a tough test in Swedish lightweight Erik Carlsson (6-2). ‘The Butcher’, who has become somewhat synonymous with producing spectacular upsets, will look to extend his impressive six-fight win streak, this time as the fight favourite according to Tapology.com.

For coverage of all of the winners and losers in both the amateur and professional ranks, keep it right here at mmavanguard.com!

140 Days of Scouting

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A lot has happened since we published our 70 Days of Scouting article back on July 3rd. The total combined record of all the fighters covered by The MMA Vanguard was an impressive 10-1. Now, we’re back with our second update.

In this article, we will look at every fight contested by every fighter covered by The MMA Vanguard – no exceptions. So, how did everyone do? And just how good are the fighters we choose to cover?

Remember, our byline is ‘great writing about great fighters’ – and we pride ourselves on our eye for top talent. So without further ado, let’s get stuck into the detail…

Kyler Phillips

Last time we looked at 22 year old Arizona phenom Kyler ‘Matrix’ Phillips, he had disposed of Mexican Jonathan Quiroz at Legacy Fighting Alliance and was preparing to compete on Dana White’s Contender Series against James Gray. Well, that fight lasted just 46 seconds, with Phillips scoring an impressive TKO courtesy of standing elbows and some devastating ground and pound. We think it’s just a matter of time before this outstanding MMA Lab exponent competes on the biggest stage of them all.

Scorecard: 2-0

Mika Faavale

Alaska-based Hawaiian heavyweight Mika Faavale participated as The MMA Vanguard’s first ever exclusive interview ahead of his Alaska FC 32 fight with 75-fight veteran Tony ‘Kryptonite’ Lopez. Despite having just four fights on his record, Faavale earned the respect of Lopez in a back-and-forth, hard-hitting fight that Lopez eventually won by fourth round submission.

Scorecard: 2-1

Israel Adesanya

One of the most talented strikers on the planet, New Zealand-based Nigerian Israel Adesanya brutalized the over-matched and under-sized UFC veteran Melvin Guillard at Australian FC 20. Needing less than a round to record one of the most lopsided victories of 2017, Adesanya made it clearer than ever that he is ready to compete at the highest level – but between competing in MMA in China and continuing to challenge himself across other combat sports, it may take a serious offer before he commits to an exclusive deal with a major company.

Scorecard: 3-1

Jose Torres

An interview with two-time IMMAF World Champion Jose Torres gained significant traction, helping to establish The MMA Vanguard as one of the most outstanding prospect-based MMA websites anywhere in the world. With the support of IMMAF, this article drew a wide and varied audience, but the hard bit was yet to come…

The Titan FC Flyweight champion was about to jump up a weight class and challenge hugely experienced Farkhad Sharipov (17-7) for the Bantamweight title in a bid to become a two-division title holder. On June 19, Jose ‘Shorty’ Torres achieved that ambition, cementing his place as one of the top prospects in any division anywhere in the world. A sure-fire future UFC top contender, Torres remains one of The MMA Vanguard’s favourite fighters.

Scorecard: 4-1

Mohammed Usman

Mohammed Usman racked up his first professional MMA win back in May, scoring a 76 second submission win over Derrick Williams. Usman, brother of UFC star Kamaru, then went one better last month when he put away Dante Harrell, also by submission, in just 68 seconds. A bonafide prospect for the Tachi Palace Fighting organization, the former Arizona Wildcat is definitely one to watch going forward.

Scorecard: 6-1

Emeka Ifekandu

Omaha, Nebraska’s Emeka Ifekandu was a 2-0 prospect when we covered him in May of this year, and he pointed to the fact he’s had to fight for everything he’s had his whole life as cause for his success in amateur and pro MMA. Well, the Mick Doyle-trained stand out has doubled that record across a pair of fights in July and August! The bantamweight defeated Honduran Jorge Serrano at King of the Cage, before scoring a third round TKO of undefeated up-and-comer Steven Merrill at Legacy Fighting Alliance. Now 4-0, Ifekandu has an exciting future ahead of him in a sport where he truly belongs!

Scorecard: 8-1

Ben Edwards

Canberra, Australia’s kickboxer-turned-MMA fighter Ben ‘Guvnor’ Edwards had to endure a prolonged delay to make his MMA debut against fellow heavyweight Brandon Sosoli, but the wait was worth it when he finished Sosoli off in the very first round. One of the most decorated fighters in the world, the two-time ISKA World Kickboxing Champion looks set to take the MMA game by storm!

Scorecard: 9-1

Frank Sforza

It’s been a fantastic 2017 for Master Sergeant Frank Sforza, a 14-year military veteran and serving Police Officer in the state of Massachusetts. With a heavily-disrupted 6 year career behind him, Sforza entered the year at 5-0, and has won three straight times since! A 64 second submission of Jay Ellis in June was followed by a second round submission win over Jeff Anderson, both under the Cage Titans banner. Now 8-0, it remains to be seen if Sforza will compete again before the year is out.

Scorecard: 11-1

Chandler Cole

A self-described ‘natural middleweight’, Chandler Cole has competed successfully at both amateur and pro levels in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. That may change in future following Cole’s first ever defeat at the hands of Tebaris Gordon for Legacy Fighting Alliance with a 265 pound limit. A very grounded athlete, Cole will no doubt be back – the question is, in which weight class?

Scorecard: 11-2

Heather Hardy

We spoke to two-division world boxing champion Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy ahead of her MMA debut, and she sounded extremely confident despite going against a nine-fight veteran in Alice Yauger. That confidence was well-placed, as Hardy adapted superbly to life inside the cage, finishing the highly durable Yauger with thirteen seconds to spare.

Scorecard: 12-2

James Gallagher

One of the best, most highly-touted prospects anywhere in the world, Straight Blast Gym’s James Gallagher has had to deal with an enormous amount of pressure throughout his young career. Now 7-0, the 20 year old bested a man twice his age when he stopped Chinzo Machida, brother of Lyoto, in less than half a round. A submission ace with extremely well-rounded skills, Gallagher will return to Ireland to face Jeremiah Labiano in November.

Scorecard: 13-2

Chris Hofmann

Swiss-Filipino middleweight Chris Hofmann continued his devastating run of form under the URCC banner with a successful title defence over Canadian Robert Sothmann back in August. Hofmann, an outstanding wrestler and striker, is riding a seven-fight winning streak, all coming by way of TKO.

Scorecard: 14-2

Thiago Moises

Outstanding Brazilian prospect Thiago Moises hit a bump in the road when he dropped a five-round decision to Robert Watley for the Legacy Fighting Alliance lightweight title. That loss saw a four-fight winning streak snapped, but this uber-talented grappler will no doubt be back in the cage before long!

Scorecard: 14-3

Katharina Lehner

We spoke to German bantamweight ace Katharina Lehner in June of this year, and she said she had exciting news coming up regarding signing for a major promotion. That promotion, it turned out, was none other than US-based Invicta FC, and Lehner made her debut for the outfit last month. Dangerous Alexa Conners sported a 4-1 record, but was unable to see out the first round against Lehner, who recorded an impressive first round TKO to further underline her incredible potential!

Scorecard: 15-3

Andrey Koreshkov

While it’s a bit disingenuous to describe former Bellator Welterweight Champion Andrey Koreshkov as a ‘prospect’, The MMA Vanguard simply could not pass up the opportunity to speak to the Russian ace ahead of last month’s bout with Chidi Njokuani. Koreshkov promised to stand and bang with Njokuani, and did so brilliantly landing a flying knee before further emphasising his superiority on the ground with a takedown and ground and pound combination. Koreshkov, no doubt, remains one of the most dangerous fighters in the Bellator 170 pound division!

Scorecard: 16-3

Kristi Lopez

A highly marketable prospect, Puerto Rico’s Kristi Lopez didn’t quite the Bellator debut she wanted against a well-matched opponent in Jessica Sotack, recording her first career draw! A back-and-forth affair, it will be interesting to see what’s next for the promising 34 year old!

Scorecard: 16-3-1

Chris Honeycutt

Chris Honeycutt faced tough veteran Kevin Casey at Bellator 182, and he was confident his outstanding athleticism combined with a high pressure offence would be too much for the BJJ ace. That assessment was pretty much spot on, as Honeycutt overwhelmed Casey en route to a second round TKO! The Fresno, California native will now set his sights on the uppermost echelons of the Bellator middleweight division!

Scorecard: 17-3-1

Daniel Crawford

A stunning win over seasoned veteran Ronnie Mann introduced Daniel Crawford to BAMMA fans back in May, and just this evening Crawford followed that up by claiming the BAMMA Featherweight title from Frenchman Damien ‘Frankenstein’ Lapilus by TKO just 26 seconds into round number two! The Londoner, possessing devastating power and exciting boxing stylistics, showed off a well-rounded game as he effectively out-grappled Lapilus in the first round.

Scorecard: 18-3-1

Cody Stamann

Just weeks after his excellent interview with The MMA Vanguard, Cody Stamann announced he had signed with the UFC and would face fellow prospect Terrion Ware at UFC 213. The toughest test on the biggest stage of his career, Stamann nevertheless proved more than up to the challenge, besting Ware across all three scorecards thanks to an outstanding and very strategic performance. The 15-1 Michigan native, who recalled how MMA in the state used to be like ‘The Wild West’, will now face French ace Tom Duquesnoy in a battle of two of the very best featherweight prospects anywhere in the world!

Scorecard: 19-3-1

Martina Mokhnatkina

Russian Samboka Martina Mokhnatkina, wife of light heavyweight Mikhail Mokhnatkin, bested Irina Degtyareva in style, posting an 86-second submission win to advance to 3-0 back in June. A Fight Nights Global fighter, Martina is one of the best female Sambo fighters of her generation, and could soon establish herself as one of the top bantamweight prospects in the game.

Scorecard: 20-3-1

Amir Albazi

‘The Prince’ made his Bellator debut in May of this year, taking out Britain’s own Jamie Powell at Bellator 179. Now 10-0, the Swedish-born fighter of Iraqi descent, who now competes out of London Shootfighters in England, looks a stellar proposition at flyweight, having competed his whole previous career at 135 lbs. An extremely gifted grappler, 23-year old Albazi has an incredible future ahead of him.

Scorecard: 21-3-1

Rafael Lovato, Jr

When The MMA Vanguard looked at world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stand out Rafael Lovato, Jr back in May, he had recently needed just 13 seconds to submit the overmatched Charles Hackmann. Fast-forward to July, and Lovato received a step up in competition as Bellator pitted him against UFC veteran Mike ‘Biggie’ Rhodes. Showing just how good his grappling chops really are, the distinguished ace needed less than two minutes to choke Rhodes into submission. Can anyone in the Bellator middleweight division hang with Lovato?

Scorecard: 22-3-1

Thanh Le

The only surprise when Thanh Le competed on Dana White’s Contender Series against Lazar Stojadinovic was that Le was not immediately picked up by the promotion. The world class Korean TaeKwonDo practitioner needed less than a round and a half to dispatch the ‘Bosnian Bomber’, scoring a stylish and customary TKO win. Whether or not the TUF veteran will compete for the UFC in the near future remains uncertain, but what is clear is this American of Vietnamese descent is a stand out striker and a bonafide prospect.

Scorecard: 23-3-1

Dom Meriweather

Clearly a man of great taste, Dom Meriweather reached out to The MMA Vanguard for an interview back in May, and after analysing the Alaskan’s prospects, we decided he was right up there with some of the best we’ve seen. Later that month, Dom blasted past local rival Michael Williams, scoring a second round TKO, and we look forward to see what’s next for ‘Mocha Bear’.

Scorecard: 24-3-1

Logan Storley

Logan ‘Storm’ Storley was, somewhat bizarrely, relatively unheralded when Bellator picked him up following The MMA Vanguard’s article back in May. A four-time NCAA Division I All American wrestler, Storley continued to make his transition to MMA look easy when he dismantled Kemmyelle Haley in less than two minutes in his promotional debut, and the future looks incredibly bright for the welterweight ace. Step up in competition well and truly required!

Scorecard: 25-3-1

Jack Shore

Jack Shore spoke to us ahead of the toughest fight of his career against Konmon Deh at Cage Warriors 83, and the hyper-talented Welsh stand out and IMMAF European Champion extended his perfect streak to 16-0 across both the amateur and professional formats. A first round submission defied Deh, and underlined Shore as one of the best featherweights on both the British and European scenes.

Scorecard: 26-3-1

Arjan Bhullar

Arjan Bhullar faced possibly the toughest challenge of any fighter on this list when he made his UFC debut against Brazilian Luis Henrique. The Canadian Olympian passed that test with flying colours, recording a unanimous decision win, re-establishing himself as the best hope for any fighter representing the Indian subcontinent. With the hopes of dual nations resting on his shoulders, this impressive heavyweight is now a perfect 7-0.

Scorecard: 27-3-1

And that’s that!

With The MMA Vanguard’s tipped fighters having fought a combined 31 times since the site’s inception back in late April, and with many fighters stepping up to bigger organizations and fighting even tougher competition, there was a danger results would not have been anywhere near as favourable – but when The MMA Vanguard picks fighters, we are prepared to throw the full weight of our support behind them – and that’s because we believe in them, and we believe they have the brightest futures!

Thank you for reading, and continuing to engage with The MMA Vanguard!

Cody Stamann

Cody Stamann

A native of Sparta, Michigan, Cody Stamann is a dual-division athlete able to lay claim to titles at both featherweight and bantamweight. A representative of Michigan Top Team and training partner to 13-fight UFC veteran and current Rizin FF stand out Daron Cruickshank, Stamann boasts an outstanding 14-1 record, and may be the best kept secret in the American bantamweight division – outside of the north central states, that is.

A veteran of no fewer than 35 pro and amateur bouts combined, Stamann has been terrorizing opponents in the lighter weight classes for almost a decade. Before that, Stamann was a self-confessed sports addict who competed in every sport he could. Speaking exclusively to The MMA Vanguard, Cody said he wrestled and boxed throughout his high school years, which led him to his amateur MMA debut. Stamann would go on to compile a superb 19-1 mark, before, naturally, the professional ranks beckoned.

Reminiscing on the early days of his career, Stamann said: “MMA in Michigan was like the Wild West. When I started [competing] there was no sanctioning body for amateur fighters. It was a glorified street fight, and promoter’s made a killing because they didn’t have to buy insurance or pay physicians. Luckily the state has stepped up and fighters are better protected now,” before adding: “MMA in Michigan is becoming much more legit, and we’re starting to see local guys compete on the big shows.”

One of the current forerunners in terms of Michigan-based promotions are Stamann’s current employers, Knock Out Promotions [KOP]. With the financial clout to bring in tough fighters from all over the United States, Stamann is one of the beneficiaries of an ever-improving fight scene – and an ever-increasing level of competition. But while Stamann has spent the majority of his career competing in Michigan and the surrounding states, one particular fight stands out on his record as a geographical anomaly.

Stamann’s third pro fight, which followed on from two first round stoppage victories (including an 8-second guillotine choke submission of Chris Bourdon), saw Cody in unfamiliar surroundings – Romania, no less. Travelling to Craiova, Romania’s sixth-largest city, Stamann found himself facing off against debutant Benjamin Alexandercu. So how exactly did that come about? “It was a short notice fight,” Cody told us, “I basically showed up, weighed in, knocked a dude out, collected a check, and flew home,” Stamann laughs – not bad work if you can get it (much less get the job done)!

Returning to home soil, Stamann would best Terry House Jr, Adam Alvarez and Jeremy Czarnecki to improve his record to 6-0, and earn a fight with fellow unbeaten prospect Ruben Baraiac (5-0). This fight, with Stamann’s recently won TXC Featherweight title on the line, brings back great memories for ‘The Spartan’. “Everyone was sure he could beat me,” he told The MMA Vanguard. That didn’t happen, however. A third round knock out victory underlined Cody’s potential – not only to onlookers, but to Stamann himself: “It made me realize I was legit, and could fight anyone,” he says, describing the bout as one of the favourites of his career so far.

Many of his most cherished memories don’t relate directly to competition, however. Rather, Stamann is most fond recalling time spent competing with the support those closest to him: “My favourite memories in this sport are the ones I’ve shared with my team and family. There is nothing better than knowing that you have a group of people who selflessly love and support you, no matter what happens in the cage,” he says – and while Stamann’s career has seen far more ups than downs, there have been challenging times. One outcome in particular still rankles with Stamann.

Speaking of a split decision loss to Larry Digiulio in August 2014, Stamann’s only professional loss, Cody says: “To this day I’d urge anyone to watch that fight and see who they think won. I believe I did, but it is what it is. [Losing like that] made me hungry, and helped me realize I should always push for a finish.” That fight saw Digiulio display good boxing and counter-striking, with Stamann combining angles and movement with effective takedowns. While the first round saw Cody controlling the majority of it’s duration, Digiulio scored with the more telling strikes, and it’s possible to make a case for either fighter.

The second round was also closely contested, but with Cody landing a good one-two early, he seemed to have the initial momentum. Threatening for a takedown, Cody found Digiulio countering with a tight-looking guillotine that Stamann would ride out and escape from – but it was, nonetheless, a warning sign. Back on the feet at Cody’s behest, the hyper-confident Stamann scored with effective leg kicks, while Digiulio looked to counter body and high kicks, eventually landing a good left hook towards the end of the round. Again, both fighters had their moments, though Stamann undeniably controlled much of the pace.

A highly competitive fight up to that point, the two could scarcely be separated as they went to a third and final round, both athletes providing ample evidence of their toughness and stamina. Shots had landed, and both men had barely flinched; the action had been pushed, and neither man looked like wilting. With everything to play for, both fighters continued in much the same vane – Cody landed kicks, Digiulio loaded up on punches, and the latter would go on to deny Stamann a takedown at around the 60 second mark. Perhaps the first notable strike of the round went ‘The Spartan’s’ way, a crisp right hook landing from a short-range exchange, before a big takedown from Cody gave him a great position with less than half the round to go. A superb pass to side control, from where he briefly threatened a North-South choke, could have spelled the end for Digiulio with the clock running down – but after a brief scramble and a quick separation, Digiulio, impressively, found a way back to his feet. Here, Stamann landed one of his flashier strike attempts, a flying knee, that left Digiulio reeling. After a little Diaz-esque taunting, Stamann continued to make statements with some solid counter-striking against an ever-more desperate Digiulio. Another one-two combination and a takedown in the final second must have left Stamann in no doubt of his superiority, but that couldn’t detract from the fact the first two rounds were a little too close for comfort.

While an argument could easily be made for a 30-27 scorecard in Stamann’s favour, two of the judges scored the bout 29-28 for his opponent. A shocked commentary team mirrored the visual aesthetics of Cody Stamann himself in the moments immediately following the verdict, but for ‘The Spartan’ it was, nonetheless, a lesson learned: never leave a fight in the hands of the judges.

The memory of that defeat was later consigned to history with consecutive wins over Giovanni Moljo and Chris Dunn, victories that would result in a call up for Titan Fighting Championship. A slated bout with Kevin Croom never transpired, however, and as fate would have it, Stamann found himself facing another impressive opponent instead, in the form of Kyrgyzstan-born Farkhad ‘Frank’ Sharipov (15-6) in his KOP debut. The importance of the fight was not lost on Stamann – while he had faced talented opposition, Sharipov was a cut above in terms of experience and skill set, and had the record to prove it. “Farkhad is the most well rounded guy I’ve ever fought,” Stamann told The MMA Vanguard, “In the past I had fought good strikers and good grapplers, but never someone who was good at both. Farkhad was a BJJ black belt and an awesome boxer. I have never worked harder to prepare for a fight. When I started my camp, I wasn’t sure I could beat him,” he admitted, “But on fight night, I knew there was no way I could lose.”

By now a 9-1 contender, Cody needed a win like this to cement his place as one of the best fighters operating in the lighter weight classes outside of the elite promotions. While this particular fight would take place at bantamweight, Cody’s desire for competition had seen him fluctuate between 135 and 145 lbs. On that score, Cody considers himself a ‘natural’ featherweight, but this would not be the first – or last – time he would dedicate himself to a cut to bantamweight – it just takes “a lot of dedication to a good diet”, Cody told us.

That dedication would pay off in a huge way on March 26, 2016. A clearly amped up Stamann would put on one of the finest performances of his career to date, with the state of Michigan having ‘not seen a fight of this magnitude in a long time’ according to one of the KOP commentators.

Clearly respectful of Sharipov’s boxing acumen, Stamann looked to focus on his utilizing his feet early on, a spinning back kick giving ‘Frank’ something to think about, while also displaying vastly improved striking defence. Evidencing a much higher, tighter guard than had been displayed against Digiuilio, Stamann was able to avoid much of the wrath of Sharipov’s trained fists. Still, Stamann would land his own share of punches, and continue to time his kicks well. By the end of the first round, it was clear that it was Sharipov who had something to find.

If the Baraiac win had taught Stamann that he was indeed cut out to beat legitimate opposition, the Sharipov performance must have acted as a signal to the rest of the MMA world. With an intense focus, and often preternatural timing, Cody continued to dominate in his most testing challenge to date, and his growing self-belief was on display for all to see. Sticking to his aggressive stylistics and reaping the rewards because of it, Cody would dump Sharipov on his back early in the second stanza courtesy of a leg-catch, bull-rush combination, and would continue to land strikes the entire round. Sharipov may have had the experience advantage, but it felt like Stamann had more to prove; and prove it he did!

With constant motion and ever-changing angles, it was almost possible to see the belief grow within Stamann, and eat away at the confidence of the battle-tested veteran Sharipov. Battle-tested veterans, however, are always liable to find that little something extra…

Immediately following a front kick-flying knee combination from Stamann in the third and final round, Sharipov landed a spectacular axe kick, under the weight of which Stamann’s right knee clearly buckled, his hand momentarily grasping at the injured joint. Stamann, with thirty seconds left, was suddenly vulnerable. A body punch from Sharipov found it’s mark, and with Stamann effectively disabled and left to cover up, Sharipov poured on the pressure with beautiful boxing combinations against the fence, more than likely taking the round by sheer weight of numbers.

Still, the judges decision this time went the way it should have. A sublime, non-stop performance from Stamann had seen him rise to the toughest challenge of his career, and emerge victorious. This followed by a 72-second win over veteran Erik Vo, as well as impressive performances against Stephen Cervantes (6-1), Bill Kamery (13-6), and most recently Zac Church (8-4), have earned Stamann an outstanding 14-1 mark. If the Sharipov win hadn’t already put UFC brass on notice, surely the succession of impressive victories have caught the eye of the sport’s biggest global promotions.

In the words of Stamann himself, “I’m the best prospect at bantamweight in the world. I can fight, talk, and sell tickets. If you don’t know me now, I promise you will.”

The MMA Vanguard have no doubts about that!