I am writing this article to provide some of the prospects I feel have relatively high potential in the UFC based off what I’ve seen thus far. I am not stating all of these fighters in this full article have the potential to be the champion of their respective division (though I think some can be). However, I am including them because I believe they have the capability of moving up the rankings and obtaining a very good reputation inside the octagon.
I realize ‘prospect’ can be perceived as a subjective term so I will specify that the fighters in this article I am referring to have no more than 4 fights in the UFC thus far (as of April 10th, 2020) and have made their promotional debut. By no means have these fighters looked perfect in the UFC thus far. In fact, some of these fighters have lost at least once so far in the promotion, but I believe in their long-term growth and future success which is why I am mentioning them in this piece. I hope you enjoy!
Men’s Featherweight Division
‘Super’ is an accurate nickname for Sodiq Yusuff who has looked like a STUD in the UFC thus far. Sodiq is a very good, technical striker with some BIG power in his hands, fast, a very good athlete, and a very good grappler (which I didn’t see on display until his most recent bout against Andre Fili). Sodiq has been tested against some very solid competition in this weight class and has performed very well. Yusuff also showed he responds very well to adversity in the octagon as Gabriel Benítez hurt him briefly in the first round of their fight, but Yusuff responded by earning a TKO victory in the same round against the very durable, Benítez . Sodiq is currently ranked #13 in the deep, UFC Men’s Featherweight Division, but honestly, I can see him progressing even more to be a top 10 fighter.
Mike Davis had difficult matchups in both his Contender Series appearance (against Sodiq Yusuff who’s also in this article) and his UFC debut (against Gilbert Burns → ranked #6 at Welterweight), but made a good account of himself in each appearance given the circumstances (UFC debut was on very short notice and up a weight class). In his following bout in the UFC, Davis performed in a very dominant way as he landed 139 significant strikes, 2 knockdowns, 2 takedowns, and a pass on the ground which led him to getting a stoppage victory in the third round. Davis is a very good athlete, fast, a good wrestler, a very good striker, and a good grappler. At 27 years young, I expect Davis to get even better and become a ranked fighter in this deep division after a few more bouts.
Movsar Evloev is an excellent takedown artist and grappler. Movsar is a young, undefeated, and very talented fighter from Russia who will give a lot of fighters’ difficulties in this weight class as it will be a difficult challenge defend to his takedown attempts. Evloev’s striking and overall game is improving as he’s been training at Tiger Muay Thai with the likes of Mairbek Taisumov and other very talented fighters. At 26 years young and gaining more UFC experience, I see a lot of potential in Evloev. I believe he will be a ranked fighter in this very good weight class in the near future.
Lerone Murphy’s fight footage prior to his UFC debut was very impressive so that in addition to a few other factors, allowed me to feel good placing a bet on him as a huge underdog against fellow talented fighter, Zubaira Tukhugov. While the fight ended in a draw, I though Murphy made a good account of himself fighting competitively with Zubaira. Murphy was hurt and knocked down in the first round, but dealt with the adversity well by winning the following 2 rounds in 2 of the 3 judges’ eyes. Murphy has solid cardio, is a very good athlete, is a technical, threatening, striker, and is a fundamentally sound grappler (had Zubaira in a deep guillotine choke while reversing position on the ground after he was taken down in round 2). Lerone’s takedown defense can be improved and he will need to improve it in order to become a ranked fighter in this division. I am hopeful he can improve his game as he is still young, gaining more UFC experience, and trains with fellow UFC fighters including Danny Roberts and Rafael Fiviev while training at both Manchester Top Team and Tiger Muay Thai.
Jamall Emmers has wins over very talented UFC fighters, Alexander Hernandez and Cory Sandhagen because he is a very talented, well-rounded fighter himself. That said, the lack of optimal game planning (i.e. should wrestle more in fights against opponents whose best chance to win is via the striking), phases of timidity, and striking defense at times will continue to get in his way of making his way up the ranks if not addressed. Despite these flaws, I am hopeful that they can be addressed as these are areas of improvement that, from a fundamental perspective, are very doable. He is well into his MMA career as he has 22 professional fights, but a chance to compete in the UFC and a promotional debut tough loss (split decision) can hopefully motivate Emmers to fix these flaws in order to have a lot of success in this promotion.