Max Nunes – 9-0-0 - Swedish – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Rising 11 places from last year’s rankings to take the top spot this year, Nunes tore through all his opponents in 2012, winning 6 fights last year and putting himself on the map as one of Europe’s brightest prospects. He has impressively finished all 9 of his fights, with 8 of them coming in the very first round. Last year he signed for BAMMA, and among his impressive wins includes stopping Kevin Thompson (13-5), Tony Moran (9-4) and Iain Martell (6-0). Nunes trains in England out of Nick Osipczak’s New Wave Academy, and also has a 1-0 boxing record.
Artur Alibulatov – 11-0-0 - Russian – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-13, Last Fought: Sep ‘12
The number 1 light heavyweight from my 2012 list, the Sanda and Sambo specialist drops one spot this year. In October 2011 he competed in the Ukraine World Cup of Martial Arts, entering three separate three-day tournaments in combat Sambo, kickboxing and MMA. He won gold in all three events, finishing each of his MMA opponents in the first round. On top of his impressive 11-0 record, the Russian has won each of his last 9 fights in the very first round. He has not fought great opponents, but his best wins are over Oleg Zakharov (5-2) and Valery Scherbakov (3-3).
Robert Drysdale – 5-0-0 - American – 32 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 19-5, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
Drysdale may be well known to some, as he is arguably America’s best jiu-jitsu practitioner and the jiu-jitsu coach to many fighters including Forrest Griffin. Among his best accomplishments include beating Marcelo Garcia en route to winning gold at the 2007 ADCC World Championships in the absolute division, and winning gold in the 2005 World Championships. He grew up in America, but moved to Brazil in 2000 to dedicate himself to the sport. Now back living in America, he has submitted each of his 5 opponents in less than 3 minutes since making his debut in 2010. Drysdale fights for the Legacy promotion, and in his young career he already holds wins over Bastien Huveneers (9-2), Mike Nickels (9-4) & Clay Davidson (5-1).
Sultan Aliev – 8-0-0 - Russian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 19-5, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The second Russian in the top 5, Aliev makes it this high due to the good opposition he has faced. Aliev is a former Champion of Sambo in Europe, and a World Cup holder in combat Sambo. In his very first fight he won a decision over the experienced Sergey Guzev (10-2), and he also ended the 5 fight win streak of Marcin Elsner (7-3). Other wins include Hracho Darpinyan (5-2) and Alexei Varagushin (5-2). After starting out his career with 2 decision wins, Aliev has since won his last 5 fights by TKO, including winning the 4-man, one-night tournament this past November to win the Igor Vovchanchyn Cup.
Brandon Ropati – 7-0-0 - Kiwi – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 19-3, Last Fought: Aug ‘12
The first of two New Zealand fighters on the light heavyweight list, Ropati also comes from a Samoan and Chinese heritage. He brings a perfect 7-0 record to the table, with 5 of the wins coming in the very first round. Ropati comes from a wrestling background, but he’s very well rounded and has been training in jiu-jitsu for 6 years; of which his accomplishments include winning bronze in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Cup in Abu Dhabi in 2010. The 23 year old signed with top Asian promotion Legend Fighting Championships last year, and in his first fight from the promotion he ended the unbeaten streak of Cole Davids (7-0). He has spent time at American Top Team to train with compatriot Mark Hunt, and he also holds a win over Sam Alvey (17-3).
Alberto Pereira Uda – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-3, Last Fought: Jan ‘13
Brazilian fighter Uda burst onto the scene this January when he submitted one of Brazil’s top Light heavyweight prospects and the previously unbeaten and Richardson Moreira (5-0) in the very first round – (Moreira was in fact originally going to be ranked number 5 on this list). Uda has destroyed all 4 of his opponents to date, finishing every fight (3 submissions & 1 TKO), and before the Moreira win he also submitted Albini Muralha (4-1).
Francisco Trevino – 9-0-0 - American – 31 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 19-10, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
The first American on the list is surprisingly down at number 7, even though he has an impressive 9-0 record. A short stocky Light heavyweight at just 5’9”, he’s the STFC Light heavyweight champion having fought for them his whole career. The 31 year old has been fighting professionally for nearly 5 years, and most recently defended his title with an impressive knockout of Corey Bellino (6-1). Trevino has finished 8 of his 9 fights (4 TKO’s & 4 submissions), and other wins include Andrew Garza (4-0) and William Florentino (4-1).
Gustavo Henrique Kuhn – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – 32 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-1, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
Before turning his attention to MMA, Gustavo Kuhn was a professional Muay Thai fighter, during which he finished with an impressive 18-3 record. Kuhn was born in Montenegro, but has spent most of his life in Brazil. He’s the current Mega Fight champion, which he won by beating the previously unbeaten Willian Alves (3-0) in November. The 32 year old has finished each of his first 4 fights (2 TKOs & 2 submissions), including a highlight reel spinning wheel kick knockout in his second fight.
Marcin Lazarz – 5-0-0 - Polish – 29 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-3, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
Polish fighter Lazarz trains in England at Team Titan, alongside UFC fighters Brad Pickett and Jason Young. Lazarz is primarily a grappler, and comes from a Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling background. Last year he signed for top British promotion BAMMA, and in his debut for the promotion in December he submitted Sam Mensah (4-1) in the first round. He has finished 3 of his 5 wins, and he also holds an impressive win over Pavel Doroftei (8-1).
Sami Antar – 3-0-0 - Dutch – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-3, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
The lone Dutch fighter out of the 205 on this year’s list, Antar is also the most inexperienced on it at just 3-0. However, he has made a huge impression during those 3 fights, most notably in his debut when he knocked out Dawid Baziak (8-2) in just 51 seconds under the M1 banner. It is even more impressive as Baziak had won 4 straight fights for M1, and Antar took the fight on just 1 days notice. He has since posted 2 more wins in 2012. He is just 23 years old, and is a huge light heavyweight at 6’6” – perhaps the light heavyweight version of compatriot Stefan Struve.
Saparbek Safarov – 6-0-0 - Ukrainian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-4, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The lone Ukrainian fighter on the light heavyweight list, Safarov is perhaps best known for sucker punching Tomasz Narkun during the weigh-ins for a 2011 M1 event (the video has 100,000 YouTube views), thus getting sacked from the promotion. Safarov has finished each of his 6 fights in the very first round, with 5 of these victories coming due to punches. He returned from a year layoff in December when he stopped the experienced Valdas Pocevicius (33-30), and also holds a win over Igor Sliusarchuk (7-5).
Justin Friddle – 5-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-12, Last Fought: Apr ‘12
On top of a 5-0 pro record, Friddle was also 6-1 as an amateur (which included 5 finishes). After starting out his pro career with a decision win, he finished his last 4 fights in the first round. The American is primarily a stand up fighter, and he has finished 2 by TKO and 2 by submission. In his most recent fight in April last year, the 25 year old won the Rumble at the Rodeo light heavyweight title with a 60 second knockout. In just his 2nd fight he handed Roman Pizzolato (6-0) his first loss.
Volkan Oezdemir – 6-0-0 - Swiss – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-7, Last Fought: Oct ‘12
Oezdemir is a young Swiss-Turkish fighter who recently dropped to light heavyweight after fighting most of his career at heavyweight. He is a stand up fighter with a background in kenpo karate and Muay Thai, and has already beaten some good fighters in his young career, including Bruno Grancheux (3-1). The 23 year old made his debut in 2010, and has finished 4 of his 5 fights in the first round, with 3 TKO’s and a submission.
Justin Ledet – 5-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-9, Last Fought: Jul ‘12
Young American light heavyweight Justin Ledet is 5-0 as a pro after going 3-0 as an amateur. He has finished each of his pro and amateur fights, with most coming by Submission. Ledet is a tall light heavyweight at 6’4”, and he used to fight at heavyweight. Ledet doesn’t come from any traditional martial art background (though he was a top basketball player in college), and trains out of Houston’s Submission Boxing Academy. He gets good training in with top Jiu-Jitsu fighter Draculino, and his best win is over Shark Fights veteran Isaac Villanueva (7-5).
Ricardo Juan McCall – 4-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 9-4, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
‘Ricky’ McCall is unbeaten in his entire MMA career – he was 5-0 as an amateur and is now 4-0 as a pro. As an amateur he finished all 5 fights and was the champion of 2 promotions. He turned professional in 2011 and in his last fight in November he won a 5 round unanimous decision to upset Myron Dennis (7-1) and win the XFN Light Heavyweight title. The 27 year old has finished 2 of his 4 fights, and also holds a win over William Colon (4-2).
Stephan Puetz – 5-0-0 - German – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-7, Last Fought: Nov ‘12
German fighter Puetz has had a busy start to his MMA career – he made his debut in March last year and has fought 5 times already, including a 4 month spell between August and November when he fought 4 times. He is one of the tallest light heavyweights on the list at 6'6", and his accomplishments include winning the 8-man light heavyweight tournament for the German SFC promotion. He has finished each of his 5 fights, with 3 submission wins and 2 TKO wins.
Michal Pasternak – 5-0-0 - Polish – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-2, Last Fought: Dec ‘12
The second Polish fighter on the light heavyweight list, Pasternak has won all 5 fights since making his debut in August last year. The most active fighter out of the 20, he has competed in each of the last 5 months. Pasternak was a champion as an amateur, and he has finished each of his last 3 fights after starting his career with 2 decision wins. He owns wins over Wojciech Orlowski (3-5) and Piotr Kalenik (3-0).
Steven Warby – 5-0-0 - Kiwi – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-4, Last Fought: May ‘12
The second fighter from New Zealand on the list, Warby is the ICNZ heavyweight champion, though being a small heavyweight (he previously fought at 198 pounds) he has recently dropped back to light heavyweight. Warby is a stand up fighter with extremely heavy hands, and he has finished 4 of his 5 wins, all due to strikes. Warby was also 2-0 as an amateur before turning pro, and his best win came over Mike Maliefulu (2-0) in March last year.
Jorge Gonzales – 6-0-0 - Mexican – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-5, Last Fought: Jun ‘12
Mexican fighter Gonzales has perhaps the meanest record out of anyone on this list – he is 6-0, with 6 first round stoppages, has an average fight time of 2:30, and 5 of his 6 wins have been stopped due to punches (with the other a keylock submission). He has fought his whole career in Mexico, is the XFL light heavyweight champion, and has beaten some of his country’s best fighters, such as Mario Munoz (7-2) and Julio Diaz (4-2).
Michael Robertson – 4-0-0 - American – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-1, Last Fought: May ‘12
Robertson became the Mexican XK light heavyweight champion which he won in just his 3rd MMA fight. Coming from a Mexican-American heritage, he has fought all his fights in Mexico. He has fought twice a year since making his debut in 2011, and his most impressive accomplishments include ending the unbeaten streaks of Heriberto Tovar (4-0) and Diego Alaman (2-0).