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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
‘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.
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?
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.
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’.
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!
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.
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.
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!