Josh Hill – 9-0-0 - Canadian – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 20-4, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
The young Canadian has fought for a variety promotions, including Score Fighting Series and W1. He became the Aggression MMA Bantamweight champion in March of 2011 by winning a 5 round Unanimous Decision over Diego Wilson (5-0), and he has also gained wins over other prospects such as Eric Wilson (5-1) and Darin Cooley (4-0). The powerful wrestler has recently become a bit of a decision specialist, as he’s gone to a decision in each of his last 5 fights. Hill is a very physical fighter, a massive 135 pounder, and most recently ended the 7-fight win streak of John Fraser (10-4).
Brandon Bender – 10-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 22-5, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
After being ranked the number 2 Featherweight prospect on my 2012 list, he has since dropped to Bantamweight in his most recent fight – a 1st round submission win. After winning a comfortable Unanimous decision in his first fight in 2006, Bender has since rattled off 9 straight Submission wins – 8 in the first round - all coming by some sort of choke. A jiu-jitsu black belt, Bender has also trained Tai Kwon Do since a teenager and was a high school wrestler, so is extremely well-rounded. He has fought good opposition, and his opponents have a combined record of 22-5. The American fought his toughest opponent to date in February when he fought Marlin Wiekel (9-2), but of course Bender won it by Submission.
Aljamain Sterling – 7-0-0 - American – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-7, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
Fighting for CFFC, Sterling won their Bantamweight championship in October 2011 with an excellent upset victory over the experienced Sean Santella (8-2), which he won via a 5 round decision. He has since defended his title twice with a pair of submission win over Casey Johnson (4-1) and most recently Sidemar Honorio (8-2). Sterling is a 2 time NCAA Division 3 All American, and has tremendous athleticism. He also had a 6-1 record as an amateur, and trains at Team Bombsquad alongside UFC vets such as Mike Massenzio & Pat Audinwood.
Sergio Pettis – 6-0-0 - American – 19 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-10, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
The brother of former WEC champion and current UFC contender Anthony Pettis, Sergio is the younger, smaller version. He trains at Roufusport alongside his brother and fighters such as Alan Belcher, Eric Koch & Ben Askren, and was also 4-0 as an amateur. His style is extremely similar to his brother, and in his first 6 fights wins include 2 head kick knockouts and 2 first round submissions. After starting his career at Flyweight (my number 1 flyweight prospect in 2012), he has recently moved up to Bantamweight, where he’s successfully stepped up in competition and beaten Tom McKenna (5-1) and Jimmy Jones (4-1).
Michinori Tanaka – 6-0-0 - Japanese – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-5, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Young Japanese prospect Michinori Tanaka won a reasonably stacked Shooto Rookie Tournament in December 2011, where he dominated Akihito Ishihara (3-0) in the final to win the prize. The 22 year old trains out of a good Japanese gym alongside veteran Shinichi Kojima, and has finished 4 of his 6 fights by submission. In the PXC event held in the Philippines in November, he won the battle of prospects and handed my number 3 Bantamweight prospect of 2012, Russell Doane (8-0), his first defeat.
Patrick Holohan – 9-0-1 - Irish – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 15-8, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
Holohan is the only Irishman on this list, and at the young age of 24 he has built up an impressive record. He has finished 8 of his 9 wins, with 7 of them coming by submission, and 7 of those in the very first round. As evidenced by his record, Holohan is a jiu-jitsu specialist and finished runner up in the 2010 Irish BJJ Open at blue belt. This past year he has beaten some good European fighters, including Artem Sitenkov (14-7), Damien Rooney (8-2) and Steve McCombe (13-14).
Tuerxen Jumabieke – 14-0-0 - Chinese – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-4, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Jumabieke trains out of China’s top MMA gym Xian Sports alongside fellow prospect Guan Wang (10-0). He is one of the most active fighters on the list and the sanda specialist has fought 10 times in the last 18 months. The quality of his opposition hasn’t been great, and his best wins are over Honggang Yao (6-2) and Longyun Jiang (4-1). Jumabieke is the Legend Fighting Championship Bantamweight title and fights mostly for the RUFF organisation. He stated that in mid 2011 he turned down an offer from Bellator.
Sheymon Da Silva Moraes – 5-0-0 - Brazilian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-4, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Moraes comes from a professional Muay Thai background, and held a 50-11 record before turning his attention to MMA early in 2012. He is a multiple champion of various Muay Thai and Kickboxing promotions, including being the 2010 Brazilian champion. He trains out of famed Brazilian camp Team Nogueira, and he has been named Team Nogueira’s Muay Thai coach for TUF Brazil 2. Moraes has won 3 of his 5 fights by TKO, with 2 decisions. He put his name on the map in September when he handed top Brazilian Bantamweight and current UFC fighter Pedro Nobre (12-0) his first defeat. In his most recent fight he won a close split decision over the experienced Eliel Santos (14-9).
Chris Holdsworth – 4-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-4, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
A former amateur star, Holdsworth has since carried on with the same form in the pro ranks. He held the Tuff-n-Nuff title at both Featherweight and Bantamweight during his 6-0 amateur career, during which he finished each opponent in the first round. Since turning pro he has also finished each of his fights, all by submission, with his best win over Juan Rivas (4-6). The 25 year old is a Marc Laimon black belt, and he also teaches jiu-jitsu at Laimon’s MMA School in Las Vegas. In 2012 he signed a 4-fight deal with top regional promotion RFA.
Pedro Munhoz – 7-0-0 - Brazilian – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-5, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Another Bantamweight who fights for the RFA organisation, 26 year old Munhoz has won all 7 of his professional fights. A jiu-jitsu black belt, Munhoz is a no-gi specialist who has competed in numerous jiu-jitsu tournaments. In 2011 he won the Respect in the Cage Bantamweight championship with a Submission victory over Camilo Gonzalez (3-0), and in his most recent fight he got an impressive 1st round submission of Bill Kamery (10-3). He has finished 5 of his 7 fights, with 3 coming by Submission and 2 due to strikes.
David Aranda – 9-0-0 - Spanish – 36 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 15-10, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
At 36 years old, David Aranda is one of the oldest fighters out of all 205 fighters in any weight class. He was a late starter and had his first fight at 32 years old, and now at 36 he is the champion for 2 regional European promotions. Aranda holds several impressive wins on his record, including James Doolan (15-6), Olivier Pastor (16-10) and Mathias Klockars (5-0). Aranda is an extremely well-rounded fighter, and his ranks include being a third dan black belt in kickboxing, as well as being a purple belt in jiu-jitsu – which he has used to help him gain 8 submissions wins in 9 fights. He also has an unbeaten 3-0 K1 record.
Pietro Menga – 8-0-0 - English – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 10-13, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
24 year old Pietro Menga fights out of top UK camp Team Kaobon, home to fighters such as Terry Etim, Paul Sass & Paul Kelly. He posted a 5-1 semi-pro record before turning pro in 2011, and has since won all 8 fights, finishing each of them (6 submissions & 2 TKO’s), including 19, 35 and 40 second victories. A well rounded fighter, Menga has competed in several grappling competitions (including winning gold at the Spirit Challenge European BJJ open), and also has pro Muay Thai fights under his belt. In his most recent fight in December he got his best win to date, when he submitted the experienced Steve McCombe (15-17) in the first round.
Alan Nascimento – 7-0-0 - Brazilian – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-2, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
21 year old Brazilian Nascimento is a product of the famous Chute Boxe gym, and has been tipped by many to be the next big star to come out of it. Since starting his career late in 2011 as a 20 year old, he has since posted 7 straight wins, finishing every fight, with 5 of those in the first round. Nascimento is very well rounded, and though his 6 submission wins would suggest he prefers the ground game, he actually has professional kickboxing experience. He has fought poor opposition so far in his career, except in July when he submitted American prospect Terry Acker (4-0) for the Legacy promotion.
Joe Murphy – 6-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 10-11, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
American submission specialist Murphy has finished 5 of his 6 fights in his young career, all by submission. He has been fighting experienced fighters, and his wins include Ray Cervera (5-1), Tyler Weathers (8-8), Rodney Rhoden (7-11) and Maurice Eazel (7-13). A purple belt in jiu-jitsu under Cleber Luciano, Murphy regularly competes in jiu-jitsu tournaments, and last year he won gold in the advanced division at the Best of the West Championships and Grapplers Quest World Series.
Nathan Gow – 5-0-0 - American – 19 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-4, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
A reasonably tall Bantamweight at 5’9”, Gow has smashed through his 5 opponents so far. He was a champion as an amateur, finishing with a 10-1 record. Since turning pro he finished his first 4 fights by submission (all via some sort of choke); and most recently won a decision over Dyton Galliher (2-0). At just 19 years old, Gow is the youngest fighter on the Bantamweight list alongside #4 Sergio Pettis and #30 Tymoteusz Swiatek, and he has a brother who is also an MMA fighter.
Thomas De Almeida – 10-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-9, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
In 18 months Almeida has fought 10 times already, and has one of the most impressive records on this list – he has finished all 10 fights in the first round, with 6 TKO’s and 4 Submissions. After fighting solely in Brazil in his first 7 fights, Almeida signed with American promotion Legacy and won his first fight for them in November when he knocked out Cody Williams (4-3) with an elbow in just 2 and a half minutes. He trains out of feared Brazilian gym Chute Boxe, and also holds a win over Ivonei Pridonic (4-2).
Marcin Lasota – 5-0-0 - Polish – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-6, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Before turning professional, Lasota had an extensive amateur career, finishing with an impressive 17-5 record. He has a number of jiu-jitsu accomplishments, including 1st place in the Polish BJJ Championships. The 23 year old trains out of one of Poland’s top camps, and he’s gone to the judges’ scorecards in 4 of his 5 fights. He is the first of two Polish fighters on the Bantamweight list, and during his first 5 fights, he already holds wins over Filip Macek (6-3) and Aleksander Georgas (5-1).
Mike Wooten – 5-0-0 - English – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-10, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Englishman number 2 on the Bantamweight list, Wooten fights out of UFC veteran Jason Tan’s Liverpool MMA Academy. The 23 year old has finished 4 of his 5 fights, which includes 3 first round TKO’s, one of which came after just 16 seconds. He’s fought for a variety of UK promotions, and in December he picked up his most impressive win to date – a submission win over CWFC veteran Alan Philpott (7-2).
Dae Hwan Kim – 7-0-1 – South Korean – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-1, Last Fought: Feb ‘12
The lone South Korean fighter out of the entire 205 fighters, Hwan Kim has compiled an impressive 7-0-1 record. Kim started his career in 2008 when he won the 8 man Spirit MC Bantamweight tournament, defeating 3 men in one night. After taking a 3-year hiatus, the 25 year old returned in 2011 and has since posted 4 more wins. The downside to the record is the poor opposition faced, with Jay Gyeon Kim (2-0) his best win.
Matheus Mattos – 5-0-1 - Brazilian – 20 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-3, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Matos is an Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira protégé who trains out of Team Nogueira alongside the likes of the Nogueira bro’s and the Pitbull Freire bro’s. The 20 year old turned professional at the beginning of 2011 and has since racked up 5 wins, all coming by stoppage. As you would expect fighting out of Nogueira’s camp, he is well rounded with 2 submission wins and 3 TKO wins, and most recently he knocked his opponent out with a superman punch.
Yuta Yamashiro – 5-0-1 - Japanese – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-3, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Yamashiro has fought exclusively for Japanese promotion Tenkaichi Super Fight, where he has tore through opposition with all 5 wins coming by submission. The down side to this record however is the poor competition he has faced, though he did fight his most experienced opponent yet in October when he beat Gussan Gussan (4-3). The submission specialist has fought 3 times in each of 2011 and 2012.
Thomas Soto – 5-0-0 - American – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-3, Last Fought: May ‘12
American fighter Soto is also known as Sgt. Thomas Joshua Soto, as he is a 6 year army veteran who has fought in Iraq among other places. He placed 4th overall representing Team Bliss in the 2011 All-Army Combatives Tournament in October and took home a gold medal at the Fort Bliss Open Combatives Championships. Soto has won 3 by decision and 2 by submission; and his most impressive win was a hard fought split decision over Isaiah Reyes (5-1).
Chris Beal – 6-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-12, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
Beal has had it tough at some points in his life, but has come out of it to have a perfect MMA record. The 27 year old started off his career with a couple of wins before he was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. He beat the disease, and returned to MMA 2 years later in 2011, and has since won a further 4 fights to take his record to 6-0. He is not a finisher - 5 out of his 6 wins have come by decision (including 2 split decisions). Beal is a former Lightweight, who made the smart decision to drop down a couple of weight classes last year. Most recently he beat the experienced Kana Hyatt (10-11).
Mario Israel – 5-0-0 - Brazilian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-0, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
28 year old Brazilian Mario Israel has blasted through everyone he has faced. Israel turned pro in 2008 and won his first fight, but took 4 years off and returned in 2012 to win 5 fights in a 8 month period. He has finished all of his fights, with 2 submissions and 4 TKO’s, including a head kick knockout. The strength of his opponents has been poor – his first 4 opponents had just 5 fights between them, but most recently in November he knocked out the unbeaten Felipe Rego (3-0).
Josh Baker – 5-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-9, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
24 year old Josh Baker was the Cage of Chaos Champion during a 5-1 amateur career that included 3 submission wins, and his only loss being a split decision. Baker trains out of Strikeforce fighter Jorge Gurgel’s academy, and since turning pro, Baker has won all 5 fights. He went to the judges’ scorecards in his first 4 fights, and most recently in September he finished his first fight, submitting Richard McDole (3-3).
Eli Tamez – 5-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-7, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
27 year old Tamez trains at a great camp at Octagon MMA, where his coaches include jiu-jitsu master Bruno Bastos and Olympic silver medallist wrestler Jamill Kelly. He had a 5-1 amateur career before turning pro, which included being the Chaos at the Coliseum champion. After turning pro in 2011, he has won all 5 fights, winning 2 by decision, 2 by submission and 1 by TKO. In his most recent fight he beat Nathan Torres (2-1) for the Legacy FC promotion.
Nelson Salas – 4-0-0 - American – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-3, Last Fought: May ‘12
After flying under the radar for most his career, Nelson Salas put himself on the map in May last year when he knocked out my number 11 Bantamweight pick of 2011, Angel Huerta (5-0), in the very first round to hand him his first defeat. He held a mediocre 3-2 record as an amateur, but has come into his own since turning pro – finishing all 4 of his fights (2 TKOs & 2 Submissions), with 3 of the wins coming in the first round.
Geane Herrera – 4-0-0 - American – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-2, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
American fighter Herrera is a relatively newcomer to the sport, only starting MMA a few years ago. Now 22, he has 4 pro fights under his belt and is already the Bantamweight champion of regional promotion RFC, which he won by submitting the previously unbeaten Jared Crawford (4-0) in less than 3 minutes. After going to a decision in his first fight, Herrera has since rattled off 3 straight first round submission victories.
Diego Andre – 5-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-1, Last Fought: Jan ‘12
After starting off his career with a narrow split decision win, Andre has since posted 4 straight stoppages, with 2 submissions and most recently 2 knockouts. In December of 2011 he gained his best win so far, when he handed prospect Wilker Leandro (5-0) his first defeat with a second round knockout. In his most recent fight, he defeated Rogerio Assis (2-0).
Tymoteusz Swiatek – 9-0-0 - Polish – 19 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-1, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
19 year old Pole Swaitek was an amateur star in his homeland, winning a number of amateur tournaments for the AMMA promotion. He turned pro last year, and has fought all 9 fights in 2012, winning each of them with 6 of them finishes. Among his wins include an 8 second knockout and a 59 second TKO win. Unfortunately his record is weakened by the poor opponents he has faced – none of his 9 opponents have had more than 1 fight.