50 Best MMA Prospects of 2013

Lightweight Division

#31 MMA Prospect: Tony Martin



Tony Martin is the darkhorse of my Top 10 Lightweights featured in this year’s MMA Prospects Report. He is not on the radar of most MMA fans, but he should be.

Martin made his amateur debut in 2011, finishing both of his opponents via KO/TKO in the 1st round. He turned pro just a few months later and immediately started racking up submission wins. Martin was primarily fighting in the CFX promotion, which is owned by his coach, UFC veteran Brock Larson. Martin’s record stood at 5-0 overall, with all 5 of his wins coming via submission, though it should be mentioned that the level of his competition was hardly impressive. It wasn’t for a lack of trying though as Martin was finding it extremely difficult to find willing opponents to step in the cage with him.

Luckily, for Martin, he finally got his opportunity to face a familiar name in TUF 8 runner-up Phillipe Nover. Following his dominant 2012 campaign, Martin dropped down to 155 lbs. for his fight with Nover. It was a close fight throughout, but Martin primarily used his wrestling and suffocating top game to grind out a decision victory. The win over Nover was huge for Martin’s career and confidence. Nover was a seasoned veteran and a very dangerous opponent, who was still capable of winning big fights, evidenced by his decision victory over top prospect Darrell Horcher just one fight later.

Martin has since won 1 more fight as he outpointed undefeated prospect Tyler Hellenbrand via unanimous decision.

Camp/ Country:

Martin primarily trains out of Brock Larson’s Get Sum Athletic Compound in Minnesota. He was also thought to have trained out of Minnesota MMA, which is home to some of the state’s top fighters, though I was unable to find any confirmation. Martin’s alliance with Larson is going to benefit him in his long term goal of signing with the UFC or Bellator. Larson is one of the most respected battle-tested fighters in the sport, and if he says Martin is ready for the big leagues, I have a feeling Joe Silva or Sam Caplan will believe him.

Martin’s wrestling has improved drastically over the last couple of years. That is likely a strong indicator of Larson’s influence over Martin’s development. Martin’s career has been steadily handled as he continues to add new skills to his ever-expanding repertoire.

Career Forecast

Not much is known about Martin’s background prior to fighting. He’s shown a solid wrestling base in most of his fights, but by all accounts he never wrestled at the college level. He just seems to be a naturally gifted athlete that has worked exceptionally hard at building his skill set.

Martin is a huge Lightweight, standing 6’1. He uses his length extremely well with kicks and a nice left jab. He has developed some very impressive takedown ability and though his top game can be passive at times, he has fast developing submission and ground ‘n’ pound skills. For him to go out and beat Nover via decision, just 6 fights into his career is a big feat. The double-edged sword with that type of win though, is that he’s likely not going to have a long line of opponents willing to face him.

Martin’s question marks mostly revolve around his lack of experience and overall polish as a fighter. His finishing ability is still a bit lacking, though I think he will continue to improve in that area. Martin is just a bit raw at this point in his career. Currently, he’s a bit limited with his striking and is often hesitant to let his hands go. He could easily build up some confidence by training with some high-level Muay Thai instructors to develop his overall striking and truly use that length to his advantage. We have all seen what a guy like Duane Ludwig has done for Team Alpha Male. If Martin can develop some elbow and knee strikes, he could be a very dangerous fighter.

It is odd to say that Martin is still raw, considering he could probably go into the UFC or Bellator and win fights, but I believe he is just tapping into his full potential. I look at a similarly sized guy like recent UFC signee James Krause, who took years to truly round out his game and become the fighter he is today. Martin has all the makings of being that new breed type of fighter with his size and capability of being well-rounded in all areas.

Martin may not be a world beater just yet, but if he can continue to stay focused and develop his all-around skills at the rate he is currently doing so, don’t be surprised to see Tony Martin on your television screens in the very near future.


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Video 1: Martin vs. Phillipe Nover (2013)

Video 2: Martin vs. Jay Ellis (2012)

Other Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonymartinmma‎
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Tony-Martin-80436

Featherweight Division

#32 MMA Prospect: Chas Skelly



Chas Skelly was an NAIA All-American wrester before making his transition to MMA in 2009. In just 6 months time, Skelly jumped out to a 5-0 start, including a win over current UFC Featherweight Daniel Pineda. Skelly slowed down his feverish fighting pace a bit, collecting one more submission win before being given a second opportunity to fight on a Bellator undercard, once again butting heads with Pineda. Skelly impressively submitted Pineda for the second straight time, and was soon rewarded with another Bellator fight against Georgi Karakhanyan. Unfortunately, Skelly suffered a foot injury and was forced off the card and ultimately spent nearly 2 years on the sidelines.

In 2012, Skelly made his return to the cage, defeating his next 2 opponents to raise his overall record to 9-0. Skelly’s next fight against Strikeforce veteran Nick Gonzalez was cancelled due to Gonzalez missing weight. He eventually returned to defeat journeyman Rey Trujillo at Legacy FC event. 6 months later, Skelly was once again called to appear on a Bellator undercard, where he defeated Jarrod Card via decision.

Camp/ Country:

Skelly trains out of Team Takedown alongside Johny Hendricks, the Rosholt brothers (Jake & Jared), and the recently retired Shane Roller. The gym is heavy on wrestling, which is likely the way Skelly prefers it. Team Takedown has connections to the UFC and many of the regional promotions around the Midwest such as Legacy FC, which Skelly recently competed in.

Career Forecast

Chas Skelly’s MMA record speaks for itself, 11-0 overall with 8 finishes, 2 of which came against current UFC Featherweight Daniel Pineda. So, why is Skelly not signed to the UFC or Bellator? It’s simply been a matter of timing and Skelly’s unfortunate luck with injuries.

Skelly was likely on his way to signing an exclusive deal with Bellator prior to his foot injury and the scrapped bout with Georgi Karakhanyan. That injury kept Skelly out for an extended period of time, and upon his return he seems to be just hitting his stride again. Skelly has beaten some tough veterans in his last few fights, but he hasn’t really wowed anyone with the style in which he won those fights.

Skelly has a grinding style of fighting. He uses his size extremely well to frustrate his opponents and eventually starts hunting for the takedown where he can use his submission skills. Skelly’s striking is still a big concern that has yet to be fully addressed. He is not going to be able to crack the Top 10-15 of the UFC if he cannot expand his current skill set. Outside of Hendricks, his camp, Team Takedown, has struggled to diversify their skills over the last few years. The same fate may prove true for Skelly should he start facing elite level competition.

Skelly seems very likely to sign with Bellator in the very near future. He has appeared on 3 Bellator undercards as a regional draw, and has won each of those fights. Bellator is not keen on signing wrestling-based fighters unless they are at an elite level, so that could be reason enough for why Skelly has not been offered a Bellator contract.

The UFC’s Featherweight Division is currently stacked and Skelly will have to start finishing guys in order to make a statement that he belongs on the big stage. I do believe Skelly deserves a shot at proving himself against marquee competition. He would be a solid Top 25-30 type guy in the UFC right now, comparing very similarly to Darren Elkins, who also has good size with a wrestling base. Skelly just needs to keep grinding his way to victories because the one thing that the UFC or Bellator can’t shy away from signing, is an undefeated prospect with a legitimate record against tough competition. If Skelly can win his next 3-4 fights, and raise his record to 15-0, I expect him to be signed by either the UFC or Bellator.


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Video 1: Skelly vs. Luis Vega (2012)

Video 2: Skelly vs. Will Samuels (2009)

Other Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChasSkelly
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Chas-Skelly-47227

Featherweight Division

#33 MMA Prospect: Rick Glenn



Rick Glenn’s record according to the leading MMA databases is filled with confusion. Both Sherdog and Mixedmartialarts.com have Glenn making his debut in 2006. Mixedmartialarts.com claims it was his amateur debut, and that Glenn did not turn professional until 2009. That could be the likely scenario since Glenn would have only been 16 years old for that debut fight. It is also rumored that Glenn went 15-0 as an amateur and 13-2-1 professionally according to one of his training partners.

The whole thing is confusing, but regardless of that headache, here is what we do know. Rick Glenn is a legitimate prospect that is capable of finishing fights with his hands, elbows, or knees. Glenn started his MMA career at a very young age, which I mentioned above. In 2010, following a close decision loss that dropped his record to just 2-3 overall, Glenn started to see his luck turn around. Competing primarily in the Midwest Cage Championship promotion, Glenn won 4 straight fights and would go on to capture their Featherweight title. After a close title defense against UFC and Bellator veteran Ryan Roberts, which ended up in a draw, Glenn bounced around promotions from King of the Cage to Wisconsin’s NAFC. Regardless of what promotion Glenn was fighting for, the result was the same as he continued racked up wins and soon gained some traction as a prospect to watch.

Canada’s Score Fighting Series soon signed Glenn to a contract in 2012. Glenn impressively defeated two tough Canadians Lyndon Whitlock and Tristan Johnson before leaving the promotion to sign with recent upstart World Series of Fighting (WSOF). Glenn made his WSOF debut against undefeated Brazilian prospect Alexandre Pimentel. Pimentel was able to edge ahead early due to his grappling and a 2nd round knockdown, but Glenn stayed patient and eventually scored a come from behind victory via knockout.

Camp/ Country:

Rick Glenn trains out of Roufusport alongside big show veterans Anthony Pettis, Erik Koch, and Alan Belcher. It is Roufusport’s newest addition, Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, that may end making the most difference in Glenn’s ability to beat elite-level competition. Dick Roufus is obviously a master of striking, but many of his fighters have fallen victim to superior wrestlers. Hopefully Askren’s arrival has helped Glenn improve his overall takedown defense and general awareness of what it will take to compete with world class wrestlers such as Askren.

Career Forecast

Rick Glenn reminds me a lot of his training partner Erik Koch. Koch is a more explosive athlete, but the similarities in size, reach, and striking styles are apparent. Glenn’s potential will ultimately come down to whether he is able to keep his fights standing. We saw him struggle with Pimentel’s grappling in his last fight, and that does not pose well for Glenn’s future chances against elite-level competition in the UFC or Bellator.

Glenn is a dangerous striker, who is capable of finishing a fight at any moment. We have seen fighters like Koch and George Roop have good success in their respective weight classes due to the unique size and reach advantages they possess while striking. If Glenn can continue to work on the effectiveness of his jab and leg kicks in order to maximize his reach differential, he could turn out to be a legitimate threat. As of now though, expectations are tempered due to his ground game.

Glenn is currently competing in WSOF and it is now rumored that there is not an out clause should the UFC or Bellator come calling. On the other hand, WSOF is an ideal place for Glenn to refine his talents and continue to test his skills against stiffer competition. His last opponent, Pimentel, was a legit prospect, and if Glenn can win 1-2 more fights in similar fashion, I would not be surprised to see either the UFC or Bellator come calling once his WSOF contract expires.

Glenn is only 24 years old and his career truly looks to be on a permanent upswing. Roufusport is an ideal location for a fighter like Glenn, and I believe the the sky is the limit if he can keep improving upon his overall skill level.


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Video 1: Glenn vs. Alexandre Pimentel (2013)

Video 2: Glenn Highlight Video

Other Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gladiatorglenn
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Rick-Glenn-20171

Featherweight Division

#34 MMA Prospect: Jim Alers



Jim Alers is the reigning Cage Warriors Featherweight champion. He has outstanding Jiu-Jitsu and has truly rounded out his entire skill set, which should have him on the radar of the UFC in the very near future.

Alers wrestled in high school before finding a new hobby in the form of Jiu-Jitsu. Alers soon entered the MMA ranks in 2008, and ran out to a 3-0 record before signing with Florida’s Art of Fighting. Alers made an impressive debut, submitting fellow prospect Freddy Assuncao. Alers’ undefeated streak would soon come to an end though as he was finished in the opening seconds of his fight with Ronald Jacobs.

Alers would spend nearly a year away from the cage, bettering his skills in the gym, and earning his education at Central Florida University. Following his brief hiatus, Alers returned with a vengeance, submitting his next 3 opponents in a combined 3 minutes and 46 seconds.

Alers eventually signed with Cage Warriors Fighting Championship (CWFC) in 2012. Alers quickly made his mark, finishing European veteran Matteus Lahdesmaki via TKO. Alers was then tapped as Conor McGregor’s next title contender, but a week leading up to their fight, McGregor pulled out of their fight due to injury. Alers ended up fighting Brazilian veteran Marcio Cesar, submitting him in the 2nd round. Alers called out McGregor in his post-fight interview, but he would never get the opportunity to fight the Irish champ as McGregor was soon signed to the UFC.

CWFC put McGregor’s vacated Featherweight title up for grabs as Alers faced off against Finnish prospect Joni Salovaara. Alers controlled the majority of the fight, finally finishing Salovaara in the championship rounds.

Camp/ Country:

Alers trains out of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Barra in Orlando, Florida. Between the two gyms, Alers has trained alongside TUF 12 winner Jonathan Brookins and Bellator veteran Farkhad Sharipov. Alliance JJ and Gracie Barra are two of the leading JJ associations in the sport, so Alers likely has had access to a variety of top-level grappling instructors. His camp doesn’t seem to have an abundance of contacts with the UFC or Bellator, but his recent performances in Cage Warriors likely has caught their attention.

Career Forecast

Alers is a very well-rounded fighter and truly has the makings of a solid prospect that could one day contend in the UFC. His overall ground game is excellent, despite him not being a Black Belt just yet. Alers’ striking has come a long way over the last few years. He is still a bit stiff, but he’s developed a dangerous right hand that has dropped some of his opponents with it.

Alers had some bad blood growing with recent UFC signee Conor McGregor. Though McGregor is off to bigger and better things, it would be no surprise to see these two fighters eventually face off in the UFC. Some are calling McGregor a future UFC champion, but he would have had his hands full with Alers had their CWFC championship fight gone down as planned.

Alers has tackled his career in a very methodical fashion. He has continued to better himself in the gym, whether striking or grappling. He has worked his way up through the belt system of Jiu-Jitsu and has already begun finding success at some fairly high-level grappling tournaments. If Alers can continue to work on his striking, he could turn out to be a future contender in the UFC’s Featherweight Division. If I had to compare him to someone in the UFC right now, I would say he reminds me a bit of Hacran Dias.


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Video 1: Alers vs. Marcio Cesar (2012)

Video 2: Alers Highlights

Other Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/fightJim
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Jim-Alers-36581

Featherweight Division

#35 MMA Prospect: Andre Fili



Fili grew up under less than stellar circumstances, stating that family violence and drugs, were frequent scenes in his household environment. Luckily, Fili found his way out by following the path towards being a mixed martial artist.

Fili made his MMA debut in 2009, winning his first 4 fights via TKO or knockout. Fili next faced off against Team Alpha Male fighter Derrick Burnsed in a 5-round title fight at 155 lbs. Supposedly WEC scouts were in attendance to watch Fili, but he ended up being carried out of the cage after a 5th round knee injury. Prior to the injury, it was a close fight, though Burnsed had arguably started to pull away in the last couple rounds.

After more than a year out of the cage, Fili returned with a vengeance, winning 6 fights in a year’s time. During that winning streak, Fili signed on with Tachi Palace Fights (TPF), having won his debut over Ricky Wallace at TPF 14. Fili was set to face TUF 15 alumni Chris Saunders at TPF 15, but Saunders was replaced by veteran Enoch Wilson. Fili used his wrestling and conditioning to keep Wilson on his back for the majority of the fight to win a unanimous decision.

Unfortunately, Tachi Palace Fights temporarily closed their doors and Fili was left without a fight for nearly 6 months. Luckily, Fili was still the reigning Featherweight champion of West Coast Fighting Championships, and they were able to fill the void by offering Fili an opportunity to fight fellow prospect Adrian Diaz. Fili and Diaz both landed their fair share of punches, but it was Fili’s furious 3rd round blitzkrieg that ultimately led to his TKO win.

Fili has an upcoming bout scheduled in Japan’s Pancrase organization, but an opponent has yet to be announced.

Camp/ Country:

Fili trains at Team Alpha Male alongside UFC stars Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, and Joseph Benavidez. Fili’s long frame and lack of wrestling pedigree seem to be a strange fit for the camp, but by all accounts, Fili’s personality fits right in with his fellow training partners. Fili’s wrestling has noticeably improved over the course of his career and with the recent addition of striking coach Duane Ludwig, Fili may be able to take his career to the next level.

Career Forecast

Fili is a solid prospect, with a great record and a very charismatic personality that will lend itself towards making him a fan favorite. The main issue I have with Fili’s ability as a future top-flight contender is his lack of polish regarding his technical skills. On one hand, his unpredictability and unorthodox style keeps his opponents guessing, but there are times where he just simply leaves himself wide open for counter attacks. UFC-quality competition will take advantage of those mistakes, where as now, Fili is able to get away with it and still win fights.

Fili has a solid chin, evidenced in Video 1. He is a willing and able brawler, but it is his well-rounded package of skills that truly make him a Top 10 Prospect. He has great takedown defense, but he can also use his wrestling to bring things to the floor. His conditioning is excellent and his overall amount of passion in the cage seems to give him an edge in the later rounds.

Fili is somewhat of a slow starter in his fights. I am not sure if that is actually part of his gameplan, but he seems willing to feel out his opponents first, and then apply whatever superior skill he has over his opponent to win the fight. As mentioned previously, that strategy lends itself to danger as he continues to step up his competition level. In his fight with Ricky Wallace, Fili was hit with some big punches, and luckily he was able to use his wrestling to expose Wallace’s ground game. A few months later against veteran journeyman Enoch Wilson, Fili was taken down and fully mounted, but he ended up transitioning out and securing top control for the majority of the fight. Fili always finds a way out of danger, but the concerning part is why he puts himself there in the first place.

One thing for sure is that Fili is a gamer. He comes to fight. He puts on a show, and the fans go home happy. The UFC or Bellator would be proud to have a fighter like Fili in their organization.



* Something else to note, www.mixedmartialarts.com has Andre Fili listed as “Andre Givens”


Video 1: Fili vs. Ricky Wallace (2012)

Video 2: File Highlights

Other Links

Twitter: None
Sherdog Profile: http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Andre-Fili-58385

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