Raoni Barcelos – 7-0-0 - Brazilian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 22-11, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
Raoni Barcelos is the son of legendary master Laertes Barcelos, a coral belt 7th dan in jiu-jitsu. He has an excellent resume in wrestling and jiu-jitsu - he has trained in jiu-jitsu since he was 2 years old, and has been a black belt for 8 years now since the age of 20. His accomplishments include being 4X world champion at lower belts and the 2009 Brazilian no-gi world champion in the black belt division. In wrestling he was the 2006 Brazilian champion at 66kg and he won a silver medal in the 2006 Pan American Games whilst competing for the Brazilian National freestyle wrestling team. Barcelos made his MMA debut early in 2012 and after fighting exclusively for the Shooto Brazil organisation he won their featherweight title 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. The 28 year old has finished 5 of his first 7 fights, with 4 of the wins first round finishes. In his most recent fight in November he won a dominant unanimous decision over UFC & WEC veteran Tyler Toner (14-5) for the RFA promotion. In 2013 he also beat Joao Hardy (8-1) by 2nd round TKO and Trinaldo Rodrigues (9-6) by 1st round TKO (flying knee).
Mirsad Bektic – 7-0-0 - American – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-17, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Mirsad Bektic is just 22 years old and although he was born in Bosnia, he represents the USA having lived there since he was 8. He 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 7-0 professional record to go along with his perfect 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 in 2012 he signed with the RFA promotion where he beat Doug Jenkins (6-2) in his debut. In his most recent 2 fights he has needed less than 2 minutes to stop Nick Macias (6-2) and Joe Pearson (43-18). Bektic trains out of American Top Team where he trains alongside fighters such as Robbie Lawler, Hector Lombard & Dustin Poirer. He recently re-signed with Titan FC.
Marat Gafurov – 8-0-0 - Ukrainian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 18-3, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
As with many Eastern-European fighters, Gafurov comes from a Pankration and Sambo background. He is a grappling specialist – finishing 5 of his 8 fights by submission and in 2011 he won the Ukrainian National ADCC championships. Gafurov is a former welterweight and has gradually moved down to his natural weight class of featherweight. The 28 year old trains at Legion MMA and has fought the majority of his career for the M1 organisation, where he was their featherweight champion. He won the M1 title in 2012 by submitting Vugar Bakhshiev (9-5) and defended it in August with a 2nd round stoppage of Yuri Ivlev (20-7). He recently left M1 to sign with top Asian promotion One FC, where a fight with Shinya Aoki looks likely for the future. In addition to the earlier victories he also owns wins over current UFC fighter Mairbek Taisumov (17-3); as well as Magomed Arapkhanov (7-1) and David Kozma (7-2).
Brian Ortega – 7-0-0 - American – 22 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 17-11, Last Fought: Aug ‘13
Brian Ortega is a jiu-jitsu black belt and trains at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy under Rorian, Ryron, Rener and Ralek Gracie. He also spends time at Black House where he trains alongside fighters such as Roger Gracie, Mario Miranda and Justin Lawrence. After fighting most his career for the RITC promotion he signed with top regional promotion RFA last year and in his debut for them he submitted TUF veteran Jordan Rinaldi (6-1). In his most recent fight he won the inaugural RFA featherweight title by beating the previously unbeaten Keoni Koch (5-0). The 22 years old has finished 4 of his 8 career wins via submission and also holds earlier career wins over Brady Harrison (5-2) and Thomas Guimond (4-0).
Demarte Pena – 8-0-0 – South African – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 26-9, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Originally born in Angola, Demarte Pena moved to South Africa when he was 10 and has lived there ever since. He comes from a striking background and is 6-0 as an amateur Muay Thai fighter. He also held a 4-1 amateur MMA record before turning pro. As a professional he has fought his entire career for the South African EFCA promotion, and in just his 3rd fight he beat Leo Gloss (8-2) to win their featherweight title. He has since defended the belt five times – in 2012 he submitted Wesley Hawkey (7-2) and won a 5 round decision over Wessley Griesel (4-2), whilst in 2013 he holds wins over Wentzel Nel (8-3), Alain Ilunga (5-1) and Abdul Hassan (5-3).
Chris Fishgold – 10-0-0 - English – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 23-16, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Englishman Chris Fishgold fights for top European promotion Cage Warriors where he holds a 3-0 record for them. The 21 year old is an excellent grappler and was recently awarded his brown belt in jiu-jitsu. He has finished 8 of his 10 wins, with 7 of these coming via submission. He has stepped up in competition since signing for Cage Warriors, submitting Steve O’Keefe (6-2) in 94 seconds in March, then getting a 2nd round TKO victory over Marcin Wrzosek (6-1) in June, and most recenctly winning a unanimous decision over Olivier Pastor (18-14) in December. He trains at the Next Generation gym - an up and coming gym in Liverpool - with fellow Cage Warriors fighter Danny Roberts.
Francisco Albano Barrio – 4-0-0 - Argentinian – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 4-1, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Francisco Barrio is arguably the best wrestler on this year’s featherweight list, having just narrowly missed out in the 2012 London Olympics. He was born in Argentina but spend his childhood in Croatia where he began wrestling. Among his accomplishments in his Greco-Roman wrestling career include being a 7X Argentinian champion, the 2010 South American champion, and has placed in the top 3 in three Pan American Championships. He turned to MMA in 2012 and has since won his first 4 fights which includes 3 finishes (2 submissions & 1 TKO). In his most recent fight in October he gained an excellent win over Darko Banovic (9-2).
Douglas Silva De Andrade – 22-0-0 - Brazilian – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 25-22, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Unsurprisingly with his 22-0 record Douglas De Andrade has the best record on this year’s featherweight list. A professional since 2007, he has fought regularly over the past 6 years to build up his impressive record. Even more impressive is his finishing – he has gone to the judges’ scorecards just 3 times, finishing 18 of his victories by TKO (including 3 head kick knockouts and 2 stoppages via knees), and he has won fights in 16, 25 and 27 seconds. He is however an extremely small featherweight at 5’5”, so a drop to bantamweight would seem possible in the future. The 28 year old has fought for many Brazilian promotions including Shooto Brazil, Jungle Fight and Amazon Fight. He has not been fighting an extremely high level of opposition, although he does hold a 2012 head kick knockout of Felipe Froes (6-1) and 2013 TKO wins over Fabiano Nogueira (6-2) and Tiago Passos (5-4).
Anzor Azhiev – 4-0-0 - Polish – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 12-5, Last Fought: Mar ‘13
Anzor Azhiev is the lone fighter from Poland on this year’s featherweight list and he fights for KSW – the top organisation in Poland. Azhiev had many amateur fights before turning professional, finishing his amateur career with an excellent 21-1 record. Since making his professional debut late in 2011 the quality of opposition Azhiev has been facing has been excellent considering his age and experience – he already holds wins over Paul Reed (19-9), Pavel Svoboda (7-0) and Cengiz Dana (14-18).
Mark Cherico – 5-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-8, Last Fought: Jun ‘13
Mark Cherico was an amateur star before turning professional – he went a perfect 9-0 with 9 finishes and was the champion of 4 different promotions. Since turning professional he has carried this form and has won all 5 fights, once again finishing each of them. He is primarily a submission fighter and has won 4 of his 5 fights by 1st round submission. In his most recent fight he won the Pinnacle FC featherweight title when he got the first TKO win of his career, stopping UFC veteran Donny Walker (15-9) with punches in the 2nd round. He also holds a victory over Strikeforce veteran Billy Vaughan (11-14).
Alex White – 9-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 20-13, Last Fought: Jan ‘14
Alex White is one of the most rounded fighters on the featherweight list – his accomplishments include holding a 9-1 amateur boxing record and an 11-2 record in the NAGA (North American Grappling Association) championships. Before turning professional he was an amateur champion and held a perfect 3-0 record. Since turning pro in 2012 he has put together a solid 9-0 record, which includes 8 finishes (5 submissions & 3 TKO’s). Even more impressive is he has done it over solid competition – he owns wins over Adam Ward (10-4), Roy Babcock (7-1), Will Shutt (19-22) and Charon Spain (10-14).
Gavin Tucker – 7-0-0 - Canadian – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-8, Last Fought: Feb ‘13
The only Canadian on the featherweight list, Tucker is one of the hottest prospects in Canada. 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 6 fights, with 4 submission’s and 2 TKO’s. The 26 year old studied a mix of taekwondo, judo and wrestling when he was growing up and is currently a jiu-jitsu purple belt, so he is a very well rounded fighter. His best wins are a couple of submission victories over Lyndon Whitlock (7-3) and Jeremy Henry (5-3).
Pavel Virtuk – 10-0-0 - Russian – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 16-6, Last Fought: Apr ‘13
Pavel Virtuk fights for the M1 promotion, and in 2012 he put the other M1 featherweights on notice when he won the battle of undefeated prospects and beat Radoslaw Piechnik (6-0). He is not a natural finisher with 7 of his 10 wins having gone to the judges’ scorecards. The 23 year old is a short featherweight at 5’5” and in addition to the aforementioned Piechnik, he also holds wins over Olivier Pastore (17-12), Ratmir Teuvazhukov (4-2) and Ilya Ovechkin (3-0).
Nicklas Backstrom – 6-0-0 - Swedish – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-6, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
The 5th of 9 European fighters on the featherweight list, Backstrom landed on the MMA map in 2012 when he upset veteran Sergej Grecicho (11-4), a fight which Backstrom took on just 1 weeks’ notice. He followed this up 6 weeks later with a TKO win over Tomas Hytten (9-8) but after was forced to take a year out due to injury, returning in October last year to beat Jaakko Vayrynen (6-3). Backstrom made his debut back in 2009 as a 20 year old and has fought for a variety of European promotions including CWFC, Vision FC and LFN. The 24 year old is an extremely tall featherweight at 6’0” and trains out of Hilti NHB in Sweden, alongside UFC veterans such as Reza Madadi, Magnus Cedenblad and Papy Abedi.
Luke Sanders – 6-0-0 - American – 28 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-7, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Sanders is an extremely well rounded fighter – he is a former division 1 state champion in wrestling and also holds an 11-0 amateur boxing record. A popular fighter from Tennessee Sanders has finished 5 of his 6 fights with 4 wins coming by TKO and the other by submission. He fought twice in 2013 gaining excellent wins over Bellator veteran Zach Underwood (11-4) and regional fighter Javon Wright (4-2). Following these wins he signed for the RFA promotion and will face fellow unbeaten prospect Dan Moret (5-0) in his debut for them in March.
Andre Harrison – 6-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-9, Last Fought: Jun ‘13
American fighter Andre Harrison is the featherweight champion of regional promotion Ring of Combat. After winning his first 3 fights by decision, he has stepped up recently and finished each of his latest 3 fights, with 1 coming by submission and 2 by TKO. He was also a champion of 2 different promotions at amateur, where he went a perfect 5-0. In June last year the 25 year old gained his most impressive win to date, when he needed just 1 round to stop Matias Vasquez (9-2) by TKO.
Martin Buschkamp – 7-0-0 - German – 23 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-7, Last Fought: May ‘13
Although he was born in Brazil, Martin Buschkamp grew up in and represents Germany. A protégé of UFC vet Peter Sobotta, he is a jiu-jitsu purple belt and his accomplishments include being the German jiu-jitsu champion in 2010 and winning bronze in the European Jiu-Jitsu Championships (both at purple belt) in 2011. He has made a cracking start to his career and is already the featherweight champion of the OC organisation. The 23 year old won the title back in 2011 when he won a 4-man, 1-night tournament, submitting each opponent in the first round. He finished each of his first 6 fights by 1st round Submission (all by rear naked choke) and went to a decision for the first time in his most recent fight. He has 4 wins in less than 2 minutes and his wins include Matteus Lahdesmaki (12-8) and Filip Macek (8-4).
Dashon Johnson – 8-0-0 - American – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-10, Last Fought: Jan ‘14
As well as being a professional MMA fighter Dashon Johnson he is also a professional boxer holding a 15-14 record with wins including Craig McEwan (22-3), Jason Papillion (39-13) and Adam Trupish (11-0). In his MMA career the 25 year old has torn through all of his opposition, winning 7 of his 8 fights in the very first round, with 5 of the 7 finishes coming via TKO. He trains at Xplode MMA, where training partners include UFC fighter Robert Peralta and Bellator fighter Derek Anderson. His best win is a close decision over Brady Harrison (11-10) last year.
Arnold Allen – 6-0-0 - English – 19 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 11-6, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
At just 19 years old Arnold Allen is one of the youngest fighters on this year’s list. The Englishman comes from an excellent boxing background and was a regional boxing champion as an amateur. He made his amateur debut as a 16 year old and put together a fantastic 7-0 amateur record. Since turning pro in 2012 when he was 18 he has won 6 straight fights, finishing 5 of them inside the distance. Last year he signed for top European promotion Cage Warriors and has since gone 3-0 for them with wins over Declan Williams (8-6), Doni Miller (5-1) and Andy Green (4-6).
Dan Moret – 5-0-0 - American – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 15-7, Last Fought: Jun ‘13
Another fighter with a fantastic amateur career, Moret held a perfect 7-0 record before turning pro, finishing all 7 fights inside the distance. He has carried this on into his pro career, putting together a perfect 5-0 since making his debut in 2012. The 26 year old, who comes from a high school wrestling background, signed with the RFA promotion last year and beat Jose Pacheco (7-3) in his debut for the promotion. He also holds an impressive 60 second submission victory over the previously unbeaten Damion Hill (6-0).
Ricardo Lucas Ramos – 4-0-0 – Brazilian – 18 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-3, Last Fought: Nov ‘13
At just 18 years old, Ricardo Lucas Ramos is the youngest fighter on the entire 2014 list. Although he is just 4-0, he has already made a big impression in his young career. He made his pro debut early in 2012 as a 16 year old and won his first 2 fights in 58 and 30 seconds, but it was in October last year when he put his name on the map, causing a big upset by beating Brazilian prospect Allan Nascimento (10-1) at bantamweight. He moved up to featherweight in his most recent fight and needed less than 2 minutes to submit Lucas Mascena (2-1).
Henry Corrales – 7-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 13-7, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
One of 14 Americans on this year’s featherweight list, Corrales has gone a perfect 7-0 since making his debut in 2011. He fights for top regional promotion KOTC where he is 4-0 and among his wins for them includes Cooper Gibson (7-1) and Mike Christensen (10-6). Of his 7 career wins he has 5 finishes, with 4 wins by submission and a knockout victory. In his most recent fight he won a close decision over Jerrod Spoon (6-3).
Joe Barajas – 10-0-0 - American – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 8-6, Last Fought: Sep ‘13
Joe Barajas is a Hawaiin and has kept active since making his debut in 2011, fighting 9 times in 3 years and winning all of them. He is primarily a wrestler and has big power in both his hands. He has finished 6 of his 10 fights, with 3 coming by submission and 3 by TKO. Among his wins include veterans Brody Harrison (8-6) and Ruben Salazar (7-4). He trains alongside UFC fighter Robbie Peralta at Xplode MMA.
Luciano Benicio – 4-0-0 - Brazilian – 21 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-2, Last Fought: Sep ‘13
Young Brazilian featherweight Luciano Benicio has quietly put together a solid 4-0 record on the regional circuits in Brazil. He trains out of Nova Uniao, arguably Brazil’s top camp, where he trains alongside fighters such as Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, Eduardo Dantas and Marlon Sandro. He has finished each of his 4 fights with a mix of TKO and submission wins and in March last year he won the Conquista Fight featherweight title with a TKO victory over Jairo Soares (10-6).
Ray Wood – 4-0-0 - American – 24 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-4, Last Fought: Jul ‘13
‘All Business’ Ray Wood is a former amateur fighter of the year in 2012, during a 5-1 amateur career where he was the champion of the Coliseum to the Cage promotion. Since turning professional he has barely broken sweat, going 4-0 with 4 stoppages (2 TKO’s & 2 Submissions). In his most recent fight in July he won the NEF featherweight title with a submission of Lenny Wheeler (6-2).
Jordan Stiner – 6-0-0 - American – 27 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 14-1, Last Fought: Oct ‘13
Another fighter with a solid amateur career, Stiner held a solid 6-1 amateur record and was the champion of 2 different promotions in New Jersey. He trains at Renzo Gracie Jiu-jitsu and since turning professional he has won all 6 fights, finishing 4 of them inside the distance (2 TKO’s & 2 Submissions). He fights for the CFFC promotion and in his most recent fight he won a dominant decision over the previously unbeaten Jarred Mercado (10-0). He also holds wins over Donald Ooton (3-0) and Ahsan Abdullah (3-1).
Takeshi Kashiwazaki – 6-0-1 - Japanese – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 5-7, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Japanese submission wizard Takeshi Kashiwazaki amazingly won each of his first 5 fights via armbar submission, and has since gained a draw and his first TKO victory. He has fought extremely regularly since making his debut in December 2012, fighting 7 times in 13 months. He has fought his entire career for the ZST promotion, a regional promotion in Tokyo. He has not fought very experienced opposition so far in his career but he did hand Tomoyuki Manabe (3-0) his first defeat.
Mario Soto – 5-0-0 - American – 26 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 3-3, Last Fought: Jun ‘13
Since starting MMA in 2008, Mario Soto has become an extremely well rounded fighter, winning several regional wrestling and jiu-jitsu tournaments. The 26 year old trains at one of America’s top camps at Team Alpha Male, which is also home to Uriah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavidez. Since making his pro debut in 2011 he has torn through his opponents, winning each fight by submission. He has fought for a variety of regional promotions in California and best win comes over Charley Houston (2-0).
Richard Godoi – 6-0-0 - Brazilian – ?? Years Old - Opponent W/L: 7-2, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
Not much is known about Brazilian fighter Richard Williams Godoi apart from his impressive record. He has made his career fighting in the regional promotions in Brazil, although in August he signed for Jungle Fight, Brazil’s top promotion. He has finished 5 of his 6 victories, with 4 submissions and a TKO, with 4 of these coming in the very first round. In just his 2nd fight he caused a major upset by submitting Rafael Bueno (9-2) and in his Jungle Fight debut he submitted Willian Vogado (2-0).
Arman Ospanov – 5-0-0 - Kazakhstani – 25 Years Old - Opponent W/L: 6-1, Last Fought: Dec ‘13
One of just 2 fighters from Kazakhstan on the 2013 list, Arman Ospanov trains out of the Alash Pride camp, which is house to a few prospects from Eastern Europe. Ospanov has a nasty striking game and asides from a split decision victory in his 2nd fight, he has finished his other 4 via TKO all in less than 2 minutes. Although the majority of his opposition has been of poor quality, in August last year he needed just 58 seconds to stop an excellent opponent in Alexey Polpudnikov (10-2) at an event in the USA.