Bantamweight Honorable Mentions | MMA Prospects Report 2013

So, after wrapping up our Top 10 Bantamweights, there were some deserving fighters that just missed the cut this year. They will be eligible for next year’s report, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these fighters actually started outperforming the guys I listed. MMA is a funny sport, where just one win or loss can change the whole temperament towards a fighter’s prospect status.

Thus, without further ado, here are the guys that received consideration, but just missed the cut:

Bantamweight Honorable Mentions

 
 
 
 
Pedro Munhoz
"The Young Punisher"
Ht: 5'6 - Age: 26
Team: Kings MMA
OVR: 8-0


Winning Streak: 8
Finishing Rate: 75%
Munhoz was the last cutoff for my Top 10. He's currently signed to RFA and will be vying for their Bantamweight championship in August. Munhoz has excellent Jiu-Jitsu and has recently moved stateside where he trains at Kings MMA and Black House. Munhoz's striking is still a work in progress.
Michinori Tanaka

Ht: 5'5 - Age: 22
Team: Reversal Gym Yokohama
OVR: 8-0


Winning Streak: 8
Finishing Rate: 62%
Tanaka was the 2011 Shooto Rookie MVP, which has been a decent precursor to a successful MMA career in Japan. Tanaka could probably compete at Flyweight should he eventually fight in the UFC, but he is doing just fine racking up 8 straight victories, 5 coming via submission. Tanaka has a decent right hand, but it's his slick grappling game that has thus far led his way to success.
Tyson Nam

Ht: 5'7 - Age: 29
Team: Sports Lab
OVR: 12-5


Winning Streak: 0
Finishing Rate: 58%
Nam still has a decent amount of buzz surrounding him, following a shocking upset of current Bellator Bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas. Nam's upset win looked more like a fluke as he was completely dismantled in his follow up bout with Marlon Moraes. Nam is still a dangerous striker, but he will have to make serious improvements in his takedown defense and grappling to ever be a consistent fighter.
Rodolfo Marques
"The Nightmare"
Ht: 5'6 - Age: 29
Team: Nova Uniao
OVR: 14-2-1


Winning Streak: 0
Finishing Rate: 36%
Marques looked to be working his way up to the UFC or Bellator following a 13-0-1 career in his native Brazil. Instead, Marques jumped at the opportunity to compete in Dream's 2011 Bantamweight Tournament. He won his 1st round matchup before losing in the semifinals to Bibiano Fernandes. Following Dream's demise, Marques signed with World Series of Fighting, but while awaiting his debut, he accepted a fight with Pedro Nobre in Brazil. Though Marques was originally deemed the winner via decision, it was later overturned to a Draw after it was revealed that Marques' teammates were some of the judges. Marques has yet to fight for WSOF and has not fought in nearly a year. Marques' status as a top-level prospect has largely faded due to his questionable choices of promotions to fight for.
Leandro Issa
"Brodinho"
Ht: 5'7 - Age: 29
Team: Evolve MMA
OVR: 11-3


Winning Streak: 1
Finishing Rate: 73%
Leandro Issa's recent rise in One FC can be attributed to his wise decision to drop down to Bantamweight. Issa trains out of Evolve MMA, which is quickly becoming the premier camps in all of Asia. Issa is ultra-talented on the ground. Issa suffered a bit of a hiccup in his rematch with Soo Chul Kim, but there will likely be a 3rd fight, which Issa should largely be considered the favorite. Issa also holds a recent win over PRIDE veteran Masakazu Imanari.
Leandro Higo
"Pitbull"
Ht: 5'6 - Age: 24
Team: Team Nogueira
OVR: 12-2


Winning Streak: 3
Finishing Rate: 75%
Higo is considered one of Brazil's top prospects, but he may have missed a golden opportunity at the UFC in 2012 when he came up short in a decision loss to Iliarde Santos. While Santos went on to sign with the UFC a few fights later, Higo has continued to rack up wins in his native Brazil. Though his striking has improved, it's Higo's ground game that is still his most dangerous feature.
Rolando Velasco
"The Machine"
Ht: 5'6 - Age: 26
Team: Last Stand Fight Team
OVR: 11-2


Winning Streak: 3
Finishing Rate: 62%
Rolando Velasco looked to be one of the top Bantamweight prospects in the world back in 2008, thanks to a win over Darren Uyenoyama and being crowned the Tachi Palace Fighting Champion. Yet, Velasco fell on hard times, going on a 3-fight winless streak before completely disappearing from the sport for nearly 3 years. Velasco returned to the sport in 2012 and has since won 3 straight fights including a recent win over Carson Beebe. Velasco trains alongside UFC Bantamweight contender Michael McDonald.
Zeilton Rodrigues
"Nenzao"
Ht: 5'8 - Age: N/A
Team: Nova Uniao
OVR: 12-3


Winning Streak: 6
Finishing Rate: 92%
Zeilton Rodrigues may be Nova Uniao's next fighter to receive an opportunity to fight in the big leagues. Though Rodrigues has come up short against stiffer competition, he has won against a variety of solid Brazilian opposition including a 2008 TKO win over Marlon Moraes. Rodrigues' brings a solid grappling game, which is no surprise considering his Nova Uniao association, but he is also very long (5'8) and has some decent power in his hands.
Thomas de Almeida
"Thominhas"
Ht: 5'7 - Age: 21
Team: Chute Boxe
OVR: 10-0


Winning Streak: 10
Finishing Rate: 100%
Almeida has a decent amount of hype surrounding him despite only being 21 years old. Almeida has raced out to a 10-0 record, all coming via finish. He has yet to face stiff competition, but that opportunity should come soon as he just made his splash stateside for Legacy Fighting Championships. Almeida is back in Brazil, but if he continues to rack up wins, he should expect a bigger promotion to come calling very soon. Almeida reminds me a bit of his teammate Lucas Martins, who just won his first UFC fight at just 24 years old.
Shintaro Ishiwitari

Ht: 5'6 - Age: 28
Team: Cave
OVR: 15-5-4


Winning Streak: 0
Finishing Rate: 47%
Ishiwatari just missed out on his opportunity to become the top Japanese Bantamweight in the world after losing in the 5th round to Kyoji Horiguchi. Ishiwatari was up on the scorecards heading into the final round, but he could not hold on for the upset win. Ishiwatari's 6-fight win streak came to an end, which was highlighted by wins over UFC veterans Caol Uno and Motonobu Tezuka. Ishiwatari holds the King of Pancrase title and has excellent grappling chops thanks to his Judo background.

Others to watch:

L.C. Davis (20-5)
Anthony Leone (12-5)
Joe Taimanglo (18-4-1)
Brandon Hempleman (9-1)
Soo Chul Kim (7-4)
Kevin Belingon (11-3)
Yusup Saadulaev (10-3-1)
Russell Doane (8-1)
Frank Baca (16-2)
Cody Gibson (8-3)
Jason Sampson (10-1)
Chris Beal (7-0)
Mike Maldonado (5-0)
Shane Howell (13-7)
Anthony Birchak (10-1)
John Fraser (11-4)
Jonathan Mackles (13-2)
Yuta Sasaki (12-1-2)
Carson Beebe (14-2)
Matt Hobar (7-1)
David Grant (8-1)
Tito Jones (10-6)
Andrew Whitney (9-2)
Jesse Brock (14-7)
James Brum (12-2)
Jimmy Jones (4-2)
Andrew Leone (6-2)

The 2013 MMA Prospects Report

My 2013 Prospects Report started on June 1, 2013. All statistics, news, and info are reflected up to that date.
*Introduction/FAQ
Fighters marked with a "+" after their name have since signed with a major promotion.
FlyweightBantamweightFeatherweightLightweight
1. Darrell Montague +
2. Sergio Pettis +
3. Josh Sampo +
4. Sean Santella
5. Danny Martinez +
6. Mamoru Yamaguchi
7. Dileno Lopes
8. Ali Bagautinov +
9. Rafael de Freitas +
10. Jose Maria +


* Honorable Mentions
1. Henry Cejudo
2. Bibiano Fernandes +
3. Aljamain Sterling +
4. Marlon Moraes +
5. Sheymon Moraes
6. Josh Hill +
7. Chris Holdsworth +
8. Brandon Bender +
9. Kyoji Horiguchi +
10. Sirwan Kakai +


* Honorable Mentions
1. Lance Palmer +
2. Doo Ho Choi +
3. Chas Skelly+
4. Rick Glenn +
5. Jim Alers+
6. Ande Fili +
7. Gleristone Santos
8. Tom Niinimaki +
9. Goiti Yamauchi +
10.Chris Gruetzemacher +


* Honorable Mentions
1. Bubba Jenkins +
2. Justin Gaethje +
3. Gilbert Burns
4. Tony Martin +
5. Katsunori Kikuno +
6. Joe Ellenberger +
7. Carlos Ferreira+
8. Ivan Jorge +
9. Yui Chul Nam +
10. Nick Newell +


* Honorable Mentions
WelterweightMiddleweightLight HeavyweightHeavyweight
1. Alex Garcia +
2. Dhiego Lima +
3. Yan Cabral +
4. Cathal Pendred +
5. Rashid Magomedov +
6. Assan Njie
7. Myung Ho Bae
8. Mike Rhodes +
9. Hernani Perpetuo +
10. Chidi Njokuani


* Honorable Mentions
1. Mamed Khalidov
2. Elvis Mutapcic +
3. Michal Materla
4. Ramazan Emeev
5. Joseph Henle
6. Ricardo Abreu+
7. Bubba Bush
8. Jeremy Kimball +
9. Tim Williams +
10. Sean Strickland+


* Honorable Mentions
1. Robert Drysdale +
2. Tyrone Spong +
3. Patrick Cummins+
4. Jan Blachowicz+
5. Steve Bosse+
6. Kyle Cerminara
7. Viktor Nemkov
8. Max Nunes
9. Francimar Barroso +
10. Jake Butler


* Honorable Mentions
1. Steve Mocco +
2. Jared Rosholt +
3. Tony Johnson +
4. Guram Gugenishvili
5. Magomed Malikov
6. Satoshi Ishii
7. Derrick Lewis +
8. Chris Birchler
9. Walt Harris +
10. Ante Delija


* Honorable Mentions
D.C. Ross is the lead writer at www.rankingmma.com. Prior to that he worked as the lead MMA columnist at www.mmasurvival.com. His work has been mentioned on sites such as www.mixedmartialarts.com, www.cagepotato.com, and www.reddit.com. D.C. Ross is also the author of, "The World's Top MMA Fighters: Over 450 Fighter Profiles and Analysis," which is available at Amazon, Itunes, B&N.
  • Jebidiah Smith

    Irshaad Sayed is another bantamweight to watch. Former Muay Thai Champ, 6-2 (only losses to Jumabieke), training out of Evolve MMA, and only 24 years old. Also great job with the rankings so far.

    • D.C. Ross

      Thanks for the heads up on Sayed. Training at Evolve should put him on the right path to success. I will definitely add him to my database.