Sean Strickland – 10-0-0 - American – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 28-6, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
21 year old Sean Strickland is the KOTC Middleweight Champion and rises 2 spots from last year to take the top spot. He won the KOTC title in 2011 when he TKO’d the former long time champion Brandon Hunt (8-2) in the very first round. In the rematch in 2012, Strickland was again victorious by TKO, this time doing the job 24 seconds faster. In his most recent fight in December he won a close split decision over UFC veteran Josh Bryant (14-1). Since making his debut in 2007 at just 17 years old, Strickland has finished 8 of his 10 fights, with 6 of those coming in the very first round. He is a jiu-jitsu purple belt, and also holds wins over Donavin Hawkey (5-1) and Brett Sbardella (4-1). His opponents have an impressive 28-6 record combined.
Ben Reiter – 8-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 29-9, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
After being ranked as the number 6 light heavyweight prospect on my 2012 list, Reiter has since dropped down to middleweight and has had great results. Reiter is American and wrestled for Pennsylvania at university; but moved to Peru a few years ago to volunteer for a charity, helping out children in poor villages. He has fought his entire career in Peru for the Inka promotion, and he is their middleweight Champion. His accomplishments include winning the 4-man one-night light heavyweight tournament in August when he was just 1-0. During the tournament he TKO’d Fernando Dauny (11-4) in the semi finals, and ended the 7-fight winning streak of Fernando Di Pierro (9-1) in the final. The 25 year old has finished 6 of his 8 fights, with 4 wins coming via TKO and 2 via submission. In his most recent fight he won a rematch against Fernando Di Pierro (9-3).
Krzysztof Jotko – 12-0-0 - American – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 21-6, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
The lone Pole on the middleweight list, Jotko rises 8 places from last year’s list to take the 3rd spot. Jotko is an impressive 12-0 in his MMA career, which includes 6 finishes and 6 decisions. He is a Polish amateur Champion, and held an incredible 35-5 amateur record. Early in his career Jotko won the ZSSZ 8-man one-night middleweight tournament, finishing 2 by TKO and the other by Decision. In his most recent outing he won a 4 man one night tournament, beating Martin Zawada (25-11) in the final. He also holds wins over Tomasz Kondraciuk (6-3) and Damir Hadzovic (4-1).
Benjamin Brinsa – 12-0-0 - German – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-21, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Young German fighter Brinsa is a finisher – finishing 10 of his 12 wins (4 TKO’s & 6 Submissions), with 8 first round finishes among them. The strength of his opponents has been poor overall, with just 1 opponent having a positive record before his most recent fight. He stepped up in competition in November however, when, in his first fight in over a year, he handed the previously unbeaten Simone Tessari (7-0) his first defeat. This win helped him rise from number 18 on last year’s list, to take the number 4 spot this year. Brinsa has an excellent stand up game, and was a former footballer, but gave it up to focus on MMA.
Chris Davis – 8-0-0 - American – 30 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 23-13, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
Chris ‘The Hot Seat’ Davis is a jiu-jitsu black belt and has submitted 7 of his 8 opponents (6 via his speciality triangle choke). Davis trains at American Top Team alongside fighters such as Hector Lombard, Thiago Alves & Dustin Poirer; and has fought sporadically since making his debut in 2006, averaging a fight every 10 months. Davis actually made his amateur debut back in 2001 as a 19 year old, and went 8-2 in his amateur career, finishing 7 of his 8 wins by submission. The 30 year old fought twice in 2012, getting 2 impressive submission wins over UFC veteran Johnny Rees (13-4) and Bellator veteran Jon Kirk (16-9).
Rumen Dimitrov – 13-0-1 - Bulgarian – 30 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 20-19, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
Retaining his number 6 spot from the 2012 list, Dimitrov is a specialist Sambo fighter, and his accomplishments include winning gold at both the 2009 World Sambo Championships and 2009 European Sambo Championships. He also won bronze in the 2007 & 2008 World Championships. The 30 year old is the MAXFIGHT middleweight champion, and has finished 11 of his 13 wins, with 6 coming via TKO and 5 by Submission. In 2010 he beat UFC veteran Shonie Carter (49-26), and he also holds wins over Ivan Ivanov (8-5), Mikel Cortes (5-1) & Ignas Petkus (4-2). Dimitrov has a twin brother who is also a successful mixed martial artist (and interestingly competes at a lower weight class), who holds a 19-2 record.
Jake Mapes – 6-0-0 - American – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-3, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
29 year old Mapes is a jiu-jitsu black belt under Xande Riberio. Surprisingly he won his first 3 fights due to punches, but has since submitted his 2 most recent opponents. At brown belt Mapes won bronze in the Pan American games and World Championships, and is also an American National Champion in the brown belt division. He received his black belt in 2009 and is a jiu-jitsu instructor at The Arena (where he also trains) – home of fighters such as KJ Noons & Jon Tuck. Mapes is a big middleweight who has also fought at light heavyweight (and heavyweight for jiu-jitsu contests), and he got his best win in August 2011 when he beat Matt Lagler (5-4).
Adam Khaliev – 6-0-0 - Russian – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-7, Last Fought: May ‘12
Possibly the best stand up fighter on this list, Khaliev is a Kudo fighter, which is a Japanese martial art consisting of Karate, Muay Thai & Judo. The 27 year old fights for the Russian League S-70 promotion, and his accomplishments include winning the 2011 Kudo World Cup and the 2009 Kudo World Championship. In 2011, he made headlines when he performed one of the first tornado kick knockouts in MMA, when he knocked out Alexei Belyaev (13-6) in the first round. He followed this up with wins over Alexander Dotenko (9-3), Valdas Pocevicius (33-27), and Magomed Mago’imov (6-2).
Jeremy Smith – 8-0-0 – South African – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 16-6, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
South African fighter Smith is a former pro Thai Boxer and was the South African Muay Thai Champion. He held an impressive 10-1 Muay Thai record before turning his attention to MMA. It is therefore unsurprising that 5 of his 8 wins have come via TKO, and he also holds 2 submission wins. The lone fight that went to the judges’ scorecards occurred in December 2010 when he handed Strikeforce veteran Joe Ray (5-0) his first defeat in a tough decision. In March the 27 year old submitted Garreth McLellan (5-1) to win the EFCA Middleweight title and most recently beat Darren Daniel (3-1) to defend it.
Nicolas Penzer – 7-0-0 - German – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-9, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
German fighter Penzer has arguably the finest record on paper on this list – 7 wins with 7 first round Submissions (4 Armbars & 3 Rear Naked Choke’s). His average fight time is just 1 minute 45 seconds, and his wins aren’t just over debutants either. In his most recent fight in April he needed just 60 seconds to submit the experienced Sebastian Risch (8-2), and with the victory he won the RFC Middleweight title. Penzer is a jiu-jitsu brown belt who has previously competed in the ADCC trials. One downside is he has not competed outside of Germany, so it would be nice to see him sign for a larger European organisation such as CWFC.
Scott Askham – 8-0-0 - English – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-14, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
24 year old Englishman Scott Askham has one of the best records on the list, with 7 first round finishes in his 8 wins (6 of which by TKO). He has an extremely good stand up game, and among his wins include 4, 24 and 35 second TKO victories. Askham recently signed with top European promotion CWFC, and for his first fight for them stepped up in competition and beat Denniston Sutherland (18-8) – his first fight that went to a decision. With this win, he is now in the top 10 of the UK middleweight rankings. He is the UCFC middleweight champion, and also had a perfect 2-0 amateur record before turning pro.
Elias Theodorou – 6-0-0 - Canadian – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-7, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
The lone Canadian middleweight on the list, Theodorou has an impressive 6-0 record, which includes 3 decision wins and 3 finishes. He fights for top Canadian promotion Score Fighting Series, and in his 2 fights for the promotion he has won 2 impressive unanimous decisions over Simon Marini (9-3) and Ali Mokdad (6-2). For his most recent fight in November the 24 year old spent time training at Tristar gym - famously home to George St Pierre, and spent extensive time working with UFC fighter Francis Carmont.
Andrew Todhunter – 4-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-8, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
Todhunter made his amateur debut in 2009 as a 21 year old and became an amateur star, ending his amateur career with a 7-0 record which included 6 wins in less than 2 minutes. He turned professional at the end of 2011, and has continued his success into his pro ranks with a perfect 4-0 record. He has finished each of his 4 fights by submission, and in his most recent fight in September he won the XFL Middleweight Title when he submitted the experienced Brandon Gaines (5-19). He also holds a solid win over Brandon Newsome (8-7).
Luke Barnatt – 5-0-0 - English – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-11, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
The second of five English fighters on the middleweight list, Barnett is the tallest fighter on the middleweight list at a huge 6’6”. Barnatt was 8-1 as an amateur before turning professional, and so far in his career he has posted a perfect 5-0 record. Barnatt trains out of the Tsunami gym, which is one of the best up and coming gyms in the UK which also houses UFC fighter John Maguire. Barnatt has finished 4 of his 5 fights, including winning his last 3 in the very first round. Among his wins include Matteo Piran (8-7) and Lee Johnson (5-1).
Krasimir Mladenov – 8-0-0 - Bulgarian – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-11, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The second Bulgarian fighter on the middleweight list, Mladenov is a sambo specialist, just like his compatriot and number 6 ranked Rumen Dimitrov. In 2010 he won gold in the European Sambo Championships, after winning bronze the previous year. He is primarily a grappler, and has finished 4 of his 8 wins, with 3 coming by submission. He fights for top Bulgarian promotion MAX FIGHT, and in his 4th fight he got an impressive Submission win over Svetoslav Zahariev (7-3). The 26 year old has also has experience fighting in America, where he holds wins over Kenneth Seegrist (4-6) and Brandon Sene (2-1).
Tolly Plested – 6-0-0 - English – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-7, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
Englishman Tolly Plested trains with UFC fighter Vaughan Lee at Icon BJJ, where he is also a jiu-jitsu instructor. His background is in boxing, but he soon moved on to jiu-jitsu and is now a brown belt under World Champion Ze Marcello. In 2010 he came 3rd in the British no-gi Open Elite Division, and in the same year he won the WUMA European cup. Plested is a big middleweight who also competes in strongman and power lifting events, and he recently signed for top British promotion UKMMA. Plested has finished all 6 of his fights (3 TKO’s & 3 submissions), with 5 of the wins coming in the very first round.
Noel Ligon – 5-0-0 - American – 31 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-8, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
31 year old American Ligon recently put his name on the map in July when he won a dominant unanimous decision over Strikeforce veteran Artenas Young (8-4). Prior to this victory, Ligon has won 4 other fights, finishing 3 of them inside the distance. The 31 year old comes from a boxing background, and was also 2-0 as an amateur before turning pro. Ligon was scheduled to fight for the Legacy Middleweight Title in November, but was forced to pull out due to an injury.
Fred Harrington – 6-0-0 - English – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
English fighter Fred Harrington has blasted through each of his opponents, finishing each fight with a mix of TKO’s and submissions. None of his last 5 opponents have even made it past the 3 minute mark. Harrington has a very well rounded game – he has both boxing and Muay Thai fights to his credit, and he was also recently promoted to purple belt in jiu-jitsu. Harrington has previously fought at welterweight, so a drop back to that division may happen in the future.
Omari Akhmedov – 8-0-0 - Russian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The second Russian on the Middleweight list, Akhmedov one of the best records at 8-0 with 6 finishes (4 TKO’s & 2 submissions). Even more impressive is the fact that he has finished 6 of his fights in the very first round. The Russian has fought regularly, and in 2012 he fought 4 times. In April last year he defeated 3 men in one night, winning each fight by TKO to win the Governors’ Cup trophy – beating Aliyor Isakov (2-0) in the final.
Mike Jasper – 5-0-0 - American – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-6, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
Mike Jasper is a protégé of the legendary Bas Rutten, and he’s won all 5 fights since making his debut in 2011. Jasper fights for the BAMMA USA promotion and he has now won 3 consecutive fights for them. The 29 year old is a stand up fighter, and has stopped 3 of his 5 fights due to punches. In his most recent fight he eked out a split decision to end the unbeaten run of fellow prospect Manny Murillo (4-0). He also holds a win over the experienced Daniel McWilliams (9-19).
Cole Ackerman – 7-0-0 - American – 31 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-9, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
At 7-0, Cole Ackerman has one of the strongest records on this list, especially considering he has finished 5 of the 7 fights, and 4 of those in the very first round. The 31 year old made his pro debut back in 2008, and has sporadically since. He fights out of North Dakota’s ‘Pound Em’ promotion, and in 2011 he got his best win to date when he topped Jonathan Knutson (8-3). He also holds a win over the experienced Mike Crisman (12-26).
Chase Owen – 7-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-5, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Originally born in Kentucky, America, Chase Owen now lives and fights in Japan. Owen has lived in Japan for many years, and has fought his entire career for the Tenkaichi Super Fight promotion, where he is their middleweight champion. Owen is a kickboxer, and has finished 6 of his 7 fights (4TKO’s & 2 submissions), with 4 of them coming in the first round. The 24 year old has been fighting since 2008 when he was 20, and his most impressive win came in 2009 over Yuta Nakamura (6-7).
Chris Feist – 5-0-0 - American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-10, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
Feist trains out of one of America’s top camps at Team Takedown, where he gets in training with fighters such as Johnny Hendricks, Jake Rosholt & Shane Roller. Like many of his teammates, Feist comes from a wrestling background and wrestled for Portland State at University. The 28 year old primarily fights for the Texan promotion XKO, and he has used his wrestling to help him win his first 5 fights. Most recently in September he TKO’d Micah Franks (3-1).
Kendrick Miree – 5-0-0 - American – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-4, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
Miree is a big middleweight at 6’2” and trains out of the Atlanta American Top Team camp, where he gets in training alongside Douglas Lima and Roan Carneiro. Miree was formerly a light heavyweight, and also had a perfect 3-0 amateur record before turning professional. He has impressively finished all of his fights – 4 by submission and 1 TKO, with 4 of the wins coming in the first round. In 2011 he knocked out the experienced Dave Vitkay (10-10).
Leandro Athaide – 5-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 2-5, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
Surprisingly the only Brazilian fighter on the middleweight list, Athaide trains out of one of the top camps in Brazil at Nova Uniao – home to MMA champions such as Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, & Eduardo Dantas. Athaide is another that has recently dropped down a weight class from light heavyweight, so he is a big middleweight. After starting his career with a decision victory, Athaide has since finished his last 4 fights, with 2 TKO’s and 2 Submissions.
Brandon Bear – 4-0-0 - American – 30 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-7, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
Before turning professional, Brandon Bear was a champion of 2 organisations in his amateur career, ending it with a perfect 4-0 record and finishing every fight. The 30 year old has started his professional career the same way, with 4 straight wins (including 2 TKO’s & a submission). Outside of MMA, Bear is an army captain and in his most recent fight he fought at Fort Riley for Titan FC’s fight for the troop’s card, where he TKO’d Nick Budig (4-2).
Yannick Bahati – 4-0-0 - English – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-4, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The 5th and final English middleweight on the middleweight list, Bahati has made a great start to his young career, winning all 4 fights. Bahati comes from a boxing background and had an excellent amateur career in the sport as a teenager, before turning his attention to MMA a few years ago. The big middleweight trains at Ultimate Training Centre alongside UFC fighter Vaughn Lee, and also had an unbeaten amateur career before turning professional. As a pro he has finished 3 of his 4 fights due to punches, and he beat Ben Constantine (3-3) in his BAMMA debut.
Casey Ryan – 4-0-0 - American – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-4, Last Fought: Mar ‘12
American fighter Casey Ryan is a grappling coach at famed MMA camp Alliance MMA – home to fighters such as Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis & Michael Chandler. The submission specialist has unsurprisingly won each of his fights by submission, and has needed less than 6 minutes to beat his first 4 opponents combined – an average fight time of just 1 minute 25 seconds. As an amateur Ryan held a submission win over Bellator veteran Jesse Juarez.
Oliver Dohring – 6-0-0 - German – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-1, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
25 year old German fighter Dohring is a former light heavyweight who recently dropped to 185 pounds. Dohring has fought his entire career for a variety of different German promotions, fighting twice a year since 2010. He has only gone to the judges’ scorecards one time, finishing 5 of his 6 fights – 3 by submission and 2 by TKO, with his best win over Mario Gulawski (2-1).
Jakub Stejskal – 5-0-0 - Czech – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 2-3, Last Fought: May ‘12
The final fighter on the middleweight list was actually on the light heavyweight list last year. He made his middleweight debut in his most recent fight when he stopped Maciej Marczewski in the first round due to punches. After fighting his first 4 fights for the Czech promotion GCF, he had his first fight in Poland in May. Stejskal has finished each of his 5 fights with 4 submissions & 1 TKO, though he hasn’t fought very experienced opponents, with them having just 5 fights between them.