Lance Palmer – 5-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-8, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Probably the best wrestler out of all 205 fighters this year, Palmer has made a perfect 5-0 start to his MMA career. Palmer is a four time division 1 All-American wrestler out of Ohio State, as well as a 2010 Big Ten wrestling champion. The 24 year old has made a great choice in training at Team Alpha Male – possibly America’s best camps for smaller fighters, which houses Uriah Faber, Joseph Benavidez and Chad Mendes, among many others. Palmer made his MMA debut early in 2011, and in August last year he became the UVC featherweight champion by beating Jon Washington (5-2). After this victory he signed with top regional promotion RFA, and in his debut for them in November he got his best win so far when he defeated UFC & WEC veteran Fredson Paixao (10-4).
Mark Striegl – 12-0-0 - Filipino – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 25-15, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Filipino fighter Mark Striegl has fought for a variety of Asian promotions including URCC, Legend FC & PXC. Striegl is half Filipino and half American - he grew up in Tokyo, and went to college in San Diego. He wrestled in high school which gives him a good base for MMA, and loves to work a combination of takedowns & Submissions. He has finished 10 of his 12 fights, with all 10 finishes coming by submission, and he has won his last 2 fights by his patented scarf hold armlock. He kept busy in 2012 fighting 6 times, which has helped him rise 4 places from the 2011 featherweight list to take 2nd spot this year. His best wins are over Yusuke Kawanago (7-2) and PXC champion Harris Sarmiento (35-23).
Eric Kelly – 9-0-0 - Filipino – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 16-8, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The second fighter from the Philippines in the top 3, Eric Kelly is the URCC Featherweight Champion and also fights for top Asian promotion One FC. Another submission specialist, Kelly’s record is extremely impressive as he has finished 8 of his 9 fights, with 7 of the wins coming by submission. Kelly is a former Bantamweight, and is also a Wushu gold medallist in the Asian games. He’s currently taking part in the One FC 8 man featherweight tournament, and in the first round he TKO’d former UFC champion Jens Pulver (26-16). The Filipino fighter also holds impressive wins over Bae Young Kwon (7-2) and Mitch Chilson (2-0). In February he is scheduled to fight Honorio Banario (7-1) for the inaugural One FC featherweight title.
Renato Moicano Carneiro – 5-0-1 - Brazilian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 23-2, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Renato Moicano was ranked number 1 in the 2011 list, but drops down a few places this year mainly due to the fact he only had 1 fight in 2012 which ended in a draw. The Brazilian is still a top prospect however, and each of his 5 wins has been against extremely credible opponents. In just his 2nd fight he dominated veteran Joao de Souza (32-8) and followed that up with a submission of Eduardo Felipe (13-7). In his 2 most recent wins he has beaten Joao Nogueira (11-3) and Iliarde Belo Dos Santos (21-4). A tall featherweight at 5’11”, he returned in November after a 18 month absence and drew with Felipe Froes (7-2). The 22 year old fights out of Constrictor MMA team, which houses fighters such as Paulo Thiago and Rani Yahya.
Raoni Barcelos – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 10-8, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
Barcelos has an excellent resume in wrestling and jiu-jitsu. In jiu-jitsu, an art he has trained since 2 years old, he has been a black belt for 7 years now since the age of 20, he’s a 4 time world champion at lower belts, and also the 2009 Brazilian no-gi world champion in the black belt division. In wrestling he has fought for the Brazilian National freestyle wrestling team, winning a silver medal in the 2006 Pan American games. Barcelos made his MMA debut early in 2012, and after fighting exclusively for the Shooto Brazil organisation, he won their featherweight title in September with an excellent win over the experienced Jorge Rodrigues (27-7). Barcelos trains out of a great camp at Ruas Vale Tudo, where he trains under the tutelage of MMA legends Marco Ruas and Pedro Rizzo. Barcelos has finished 3 of his first 4 fights, with each finish coming in the very first round.
Marat Gafurov – 7-0-0 - Ukrainian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 18-3, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
As with many Eastern-European fighters, Gafurov comes from a pankration and sambo background. He is a grappling specialist, as shown by his 5 submission wins in 7 fights, and in 2011 he won the Ukrainian National ADCC championships. Gafurov recently dropped to featherweight after starting his career at welterweight, and trains out of Legion MMA – one of Russia’s top camps. He has fought 5 of his 7 fights for the well known M1 organisation, and is their current featherweight champion, winning the title in November by submitting Vugar Bakhshiev (9-5). Gafurov has beaten lots of other good fighters so far in his MMA career – he also holds wins over Mairbek Taisumov (17-3), Magomed Arapkhanov (7-1) and David Kozma (7-2).
Sean Soriano – 7-0-0 - American – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-7, Last Fought: Jan ‘13
Soriano trains at one of the top camps in MMA – the new Blackzilians gym, which is home to numerous top MMA fighters such Alistair Overeem, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort & Anthony Johnson. At just 23 years old, Soriano has already got 7 wins including 6 stoppages, with 4 of those coming in the first round. Soriano is extremely well rounded, which can be seen in his 3 Submission and 3 TKO wins and among his victories include Lee Metcalf (6-5) and Matthew Perry (3-1). In his most recent fight in January, he won the battle of unbeaten prospects when he won the CFA featherweight title with a 5 round unanimous decision win over Victor Delgado (6-0).
Chas Skelly – 10-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 19-9, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
American fighter Skelly has one of the best records on this list at 10-0 with 8 finishes. Skelly made his debut back in 2009 and fought 7 times in his first 14 months. He suffered numerous injuries after this period however, and after 2 years off he returned in June last year and has since posted 3 more wins. Skelly impressively holds a pair of submission wins over UFC fighter Daniel Pineda, and most recently he TKO’d Reynaldo Trujillo (12-8) in his Legacy FC debut. Other wins over Luis Vega (8-2) & Tim Snyder (9-5). The 27 year old is a tall featherweight at 5’11”, and trains out of top American camp Team Takedown – home to other wrestlers such as Johnny Hendricks & Jake Rosholt.
Mirsad Bektic – 5-0-0 - American – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-15, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
At just 21 years old Bektic is one of the youngest fighters on the list. Although he was born in Bosnia, he represents the USA having moved there when he was 8. Bektic grew up with a karate and boxing background, and actually pursued a bodybuilding career as a teenager. Since switching his attention to MMA, he has posted a perfect 5-0 pro record, to go along with his 9-0 amateur record (of which he finished all 9 fights). In addition to this, he also has a 5-1 boxing record and 2-1 Muay Thai record. He started his career fighting for Titan FC, and recently signed with RFA, where he beat Doug Jenkins (6-2) in his debut for the promotion. Bektic trains out of American Top Team, where he trains alongside fighters like Hector Lombard, Thiago Alves & Dustin Poirer.
Demarte Pena – 5-0-0 – South African – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 15-6, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Originally born in Angola, Pena moved to South Africa when he was 10 and has lived there ever since. Pena comes from a striking background, and is 6-0 as an amateur Muay Thai fighter, and he also had a 4-1 amateur MMA record before turning pro. As a professional he has fought his whole career for the South African EFCA promotion, and in just his 3rd fight he beat Leo Gloss (8-2) to win the EFCA featherweight title. He has since defended the belt twice, submitting Wesley Hawkey (7-2) in June and most recently winning a 5 round decision over Wessley Griesel (4-2) in October.
Guan Wang – 10-0-1 – Chinese – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-11, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
One of just 2 Chinese fighters out of the entire 205 this year, Wang is a top Muay Thai fighter in his home country. The 26 year old made his MMA debut back in 2006 as a 20 year old, but took a 4 year hiatus from the sport to represent China in Muay Thai fights. He returned to MMA in August of 2011 and has since racked up 6 wins to take his record to an impressive 10-0. He has finished 7 of his 10 wins in the very first round, all due to punches. A former lightweight, Wang dropped to featherweight last year, where he is very tall for the weight class at 5’11”. He trains out of Xian Sports, China’s top MMA gym, alongside number 7 bantamweight prospect Tuerxun Jumabieke (14-0).
Bruno Miranda – 5-0-0 - Brazilian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-7, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
The man nicknamed ‘Robusto’ is just 22 years old and trains out of Carlson Gracie Team in Brazil. He has fought mainly for the WOCS promotion, and has won all 5 fights after making his debut 2 years ago as a 20 year old. Robusto has big power in his fists, as evidenced by his impressive 16 second knockout of Sergio Rodrigues (9-3) in his most recent fight in September. In addition to this, he also holds wins over Frederic Fernandez (6-10), Gilvan Alves (4-0) & Nicolas Joannes (4-3), which is extremely impressive considering how young he is.
Lucas Cruz – 6-0-0 - American – 20 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-7, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
20 year old American Lucas Cruz is 6-0 in his professional career after posting a 2-0 amateur record. Considering his age and inexperience, Cruz has beaten some extremely solid opponents so far in his career. As well as beating John Ortolani (6-5), Lionel Young (6-7) and Pete Jeffrey (5-4); Cruz gained the best win of his career in his most recent fight when he beat the previously unbeaten Andreas Juedi (5-0). Cruz is the CFX featherweight champion, and has finished 5 of his 6 fights, with 2 knockout wins and 3 submissions.
Martin Buschkamp – 6-0-0 - German – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-5, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Buschkamp has made a cracking start to his career, and is already the Outsider Cup featherweight Champion. The 22 year old won the title in July 2011 when he won a 4-man, 1-night tournament, submitting each opponent in the first round. He has finished all 6 fights by 1st round Submission (all by rear naked choke in fact), and his average fight length is just 90 seconds. Buschkamp was born in Sao Paolo, but brought up in Germany. He is a protégé of UFC vet Peter Sobotta, and in 2011 he won bronze in the European Jiu-Jitsu Championships for his category. In his most recent fight he beat Filip Macek (8-4).
Masahito Hisataka– 6-0-0 – Japanese – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-6, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
Japanese fighter Hisataka is the 2010 DEEP featherweight Future King Champion, which he won by defeating 2 men in one night, including Yusaku Fujisawa (3-0) in the final. After this he took 18months off to heal injuries, and has won both fights since returning in April last year, impressively beating veteran Yusuke Kagiyama (14-6) in his most recent fight. Hisataka is not a finisher, and every fight apart from his debut has gone to a decision. He trains at Wajutsu Keishukai MMA alongside UFC fighter Yasuhiro Urushitani.
Julio Cesar Neves – 14-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-8, Last Fought: Jan ‘13
Julio Cesar Neves has the most wins on the featherweight list with his 14-0 record, and is also the tallest featherweights on the list at a massive 6’1”. The Brazilian does however have a reasonably padded record, with his best win is just over Guilherme Severo (4-1). Neves is the most active fighter on the list, as his 14 fights have come over a 14 month period, including 9 fights in 2012 and 3 fights in December alone. He has impressively finished 12 of his 14 fights with 8 TKO wins and 4 submission wins. His favourite move is the flying knee, which incredibly he has used to knock out 5 opponents!
Artur Rofi – 5-0-0 - American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-7, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
American Rofi is a tall featherweight at 5’11” and his size helps his submission game, which can be seen by his 4 submission wins in 5 fights. The 28 year old had an impressive 12-1 amateur record before turning pro, with the lone loss to UFC vet Mackens Semerzier. In 2007 he won the amateur category for his weight class in the WKA North American Combat Sports Championships. He trains at Team Bittencourt Jui-Jitsu under the tutelage of Renzo Gracie, and is due to get a CFFC title shot later this year.
Nick LoBosco – 6-0-0 - American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-5, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
LoBosco has won all 6 of his pro fights, as well as all 4 of his amateur fights. LoBosco won the California Mixed Martial Arts Fighting Systems "Caveman Challenge" in 2009, an endurance challenge involving exercises such as tire flips, press ups & monkey bar. LoBosco was a standout wrestler at CBC and is now the assistant wrestling coach at Parkway South. The 28 trains at ATT Evolution, home to Tyrone Woodley, who also corners LoBosco. Although he hasn’t fought the most experienced of opponents, he has beaten everyone in front of him with ease, including 3 finishes in less than 1 minute.
Pavel Vitruk – 6-0-0 – Russian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-3, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Virtuk fights for the M1 promotion, and in July he put the other M1 featherweights on notice when he won the battle of undefeated prospects and beat Radoslaw Piechnik (6-0). Vitruk is another fighter that is not a natural finisher, as 5 of his 6 wins have gone to the judges’ scorecards. The Russian is just 22 years old, and also holds a win over Ratmir Teuvazhukov (4-2). He is a small featherweight at 5’5”, and in his most recent fight in November he beat the previously unbeaten Ilya Ovechkin (3-0).
Nicklas Backstrom – 5-0-0 – Swedish – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-2, Last Fought: May ‘12
The 3rd of 7 European fighters on the featherweight list, Backstrom landed on the MMA map last March when he upset veteran Sergej Grecicho (11-4), a fight which Backstrom took on just 1 weeks’ notice! He followed this up in May with a TKO win over Tomas Hytten (9-8). Backstrom made his debut back in 2009 as a 20 year old, and has fought for a variety of European promotions including CWFC and Vision FC. The 23 year old trains out of Hilti NHB, Sweden’s top MMA gym, where he trains with fighters such as Reza Madadi & Per Eklund.
Billy Daniels – 6-0-0 - American – 20 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-9, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
The youngest fighter on the featherweight list at just 20 years old, Daniels has already had 6 professional MMA fights and won all of them. He has won 4 of his 6 fights by submission – all by some sort of choke, and 3 of these in the very first round. In March he submitted Daniel Goode (5-1) in the 4th round to win the RMFC featherweight title, and needed just 54 seconds to submit Sooksan Simpleman (6-8) in his first defence. He signed for Showdown Fights at the end of last year, and beat Derek Wilkerson (3-0) in his first fight for the promotion.
Evgeniy Odnorog – 7-0-0 - Ukrainian – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-5, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
The second Ukrainian fighter on the featherweight list, Odnorog is a submission specialist that has finished 6 of his 7 fights (5 submissions & 1 TKO). Among his finishes include 4 first round stoppages, and a rare omoplata submission. The 22 year old has kept extremely busy, and fought 5 times in 2012, and on 3 separate occasions he has fought twice in one night. His best win came in his debut over Kriss Larkin (5-2).
Joe Barajas – 8-0-0 - American – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-4, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
Barajas comes from Hawaii and has kept active since making his debut in 2011, fighting 8 times and winning all of them. Barajas is primarily a wrestler, who has big power in both his hands. He has finished 5 of his 8 fights, with 3 coming by submission and 2 by TKO. Asides from a win over veteran Brody Harrison (8-6) last February, all of Barajas’ wins have been over extremely inexperienced opponents. He trains alongside UFC fighter Robbie Peralta at Xplode MMA.
Tiago Santos – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Brazilian fighter Tiago Santos has won each of his first 4 MMA fights, finishing all 4 fights. After winning his first fight by TKO, he has won each of his last 3 fights by 1st round submission. Nicknamed ‘Samurai’, he put himself on the map in December when he caused a major upset by submitting Johnny Goncalves (9-1) in just 36 seconds. In addition to this, he beat veteran Udi Lima (15-12) in his very first fight. He is a small featherweight at 5’5”, so could drop to bantamweight at some point in the future.
Hunter Tucker – 4-0-0 - American – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-4, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
26 year old Hunter has a perfect record in both his pro and amateur careers – he was 4-0 as an amateur before going 4-0 as a pro so far. He’s finished all 4 of his pro fights so far, and has yet to go to the 3rd round in a fight. He trains out of the famous Jackson’s MMA gym, which is also home to fighters such as Jon Jones, Carlos Condit & Donald Cerrone; and also fights for the Jacksons MMA Series promotion. Last year Tucker was one of the fighters featured on Sherdog’s prospect watch series, where they filmed him and his training.
Tommy Thompson – 4-0-0 - American – 31 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-6, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
31 year old American Tommy Thompson was an amateur star before turning pro – he went 7-0, with 7 finishes and 5 of them in the first round, and he was the amateur Kick Down champion. Since turning pro in 2011 he has won all 4 fights, with 3 finishes and a decision. Nicknamed ‘Gun’, he’s primarily a submission fighter and holds a purple belt in jiu-jitsu. In his most recent fight he beat Prentice Ingram (3-1) for the ROF organisation.
Giovanni Brugnoni – 5-0-0 - Columbian – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-7, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
Brugnoni is the only fighter from Columbia out of all 205, and he currently lives and trains in America. He trains out of top gym American Top Team, where he trains alongside Hector Lombard, Thiago Alves & Dustin Poirer, among others. He made his amateur MMA debut nearly 5 years ago, and went an unbeaten 4-0 before turning pro in 2010. In his professional career he has finished all 5 of his fights by a mix of TKO’s and Submission’s, and this includes 3 wins in less than 2 minutes.
Jarred Mercado – 7-0-0 - American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-15, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
Mercado has fought for a variety of regional promotions in America, and he’s finished 3 of his 7 wins in the first round. The 28 year old trains out of the famous Grudge Training Centre, which is home to Shane Carwin, Brendan Schaub and Duane Ludwig, among others. Mercado wrestled at Northwester University, and has utilized his wrestling game well so far. Before turning professional he was 2-0 as an amateur, winning both fights by TKO. The weakness is the strength of his record, as he is yet to fight anyone with a winning record.
Gavin Tucker – 6-0-0 - Canadian – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-6, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
The only Canadian on the featherweight list, Tucker trains out of Canadian camp Titan MMA. At 5’6” he is reasonably small for the division and could look at a move to 135 pounds in the future. After starting out his career with a decision win, Tucker has finished each of his last 5 fights, with 3 submission’s and 2 TKO’s. The 25 year old studied a mix of taekwondo, judo and wrestling when he was growing up, so he is a very well rounded fighter. His best win came in January last year when he submitted Jeremy Henry (5-3).
Greger Forsell – 5-0-1 – Finnish – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-7, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Forsell is the lone fighter from Finland out of all 205 fighters on the 2013 list, and has beaten some solid European fighters so far in his career. He made his debut back in 2006 in a fight which he drew, and after taking 4 years off to improve his game he returned in 2010 and has since won 5 straight fights. He gained his most impressive win in his most recent fight when, in his first fight in over a year, he beat Tommi Marttinen (5-0). He has finished 2 of his 5 fights, with both these wins coming via submission.