UFC 254 only needed a moderate amount of finings to stay intact, but that still means a number of top-notch newcomers are getting their shots at the big time In this edition of » New Blood ”, the series in which I expect you to be excited about fighters you’ve never heard of, we take a look at five prospects who could become Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contenders. there are five, we will make quick calls
Once considered a potential superstar after a 4-0 amateur career and a 3-0 pro start, Hawes’ prospects seemed to evaporate after losses on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), World Series of Fighting (WSOF) ) and “Contender Series” The product formed by Hard Knocks 365 has since rebounded with four consecutive first-round finishes, including a Khadzhimurat Bestaev at 78 seconds on “Contender Series” last month
It’s not hard to see why Hawes generated so much buzz he’s a physical freak who won a national college wrestling title while attending the same school that produced Jon Jones In the Cage her- Likewise, he has a heavy right hand, brutal kicks, and a remarkably sharp jab to go along with that wrestling prowess.This right hand may be more curly than it should be, but he times it brilliantly, especially on the counter (she dropped her recent nemesis Bellator and signaled the end for Bestaev)
The answer seems to be his difficulty in organizing his fight and finishing his takedowns Andrew Sanchez largely closed his grappling and outmaneuvered him on TUF, Louis Taylor did much the same before catching him in a guillotine at the WSOF, and Julian Marquez forced Hawes to panicked takedowns before kicking him in the face on « Contender Series » He appears to have turned a corner on his strike, but he will have to demonstrate an ability to mix it up with his eliminations if he wants to be a contender
He also seemed to slow down a bit against Marquez, but maybe it was the product of the same burst that forced him to go into pure wrestling mode.
His UFC debut is absolutely tougher than the odds indicate Jacob Malkoun is the best boxer and is no slouch in the field Meanwhile, I slightly prefer Hawes due to the strength of his kicking game, but this one is a toss if he can beat Malkoun convincingly, the hype train is back on track Indeed, a Hawes firing on all cylinders is an immediate contender
Australian Malkoun has enjoyed considerable success in several combat sports, including amassing a boxing record 3-0 and successfully qualifying for ADCC 2019 He has yet to taste defeat in as a professional or amateur in mixed martial arts (MMA) and was last seen making a dominant decision over Sebastian Temesi in October 2019
Recent footage suggests that Malkoun’s boxing is the star of his game He has a razor-sharp jab which he doubles or pairs with a sneaky lead hook to keep opponents guessing, throws combinations of quality to the head and body, and does a great job of sliding just out of range of the return shot.There is an obvious speed and power in these hands, which are backed up by efficient kicks from both sides. p>
If he decides to forgo stand-up, he’s a strong, versatile wrestler Interestingly, despite this ADCC pedigree, he looks more like a field specialist than a submission specialist, because he uses his superior quality control to land powerful and stable shots He’s not lost either, as he quickly threatened a guillotine and then stood up when his last foe was kicked in the head for a withdrawal.
I really don’t see any fault with Malkoun, and with a main training partner like Robert Whittaker he could have the potential to be Australia’s “Next Big Thing” in the Octagon That said, he’s going to make a rough start against Hawes as shown above
Shakirova – the second Uzbek to join the UFC after middleweight contender Makhmud Muradov – does so in the middle of a three-game winning streak. Two of those three came inside the distance, including a ground and delivered finish almost exactly one year ago
A freestyle wrestling veteran who has enjoyed international success, Shakirova’s grappling pedigree seems to have made the transition to the intact cage She is a powerful and highly technical artist who can shoot well both ways, and once she’s at the top it’s all about dealing damage Good passing, solid driving and consistent punching power make opponents’ lives miserable as they try to get out of under her
Her stand-up is, perhaps unsurprisingly, still a work in progress, although it’s certainly better than during her only professional loss.She throws quick kicks and a decent one-two combination to the both orthodox and left-handed, but she stands so straight that she is extremely vulnerable to head shots She also tends to lean too far when throwing her powerful hand which could cause problems if an opponent is already preparing a knee or uppercut for his level change
If she can clean up her strike and correct her tendency to wait until late in the inning to actually shoot, she has the tools to be a Top 10 flyweight.The first opponent Lauren Murphy will be a real test, however, with a strike top and some wrestling chops Seems a bit too much, too soon for Shakirova, but she’s more of a living dog than the odds suggest
Rakhmonov’s sixth fight under the M-1 banner saw him take on Daniil Prikaza for the welterweight belt and claim it with a brutal ground and pound assault He made his first defense three months later, again using ground strikes to send Brazilian Tiago Varejao at the end of the first round
This will be his third attempt to debut in the Octagon after the March and July dates end
Although a lean welterweight at 6’1, « Rakhmonov’s strongest skills are his wrestling and his pitch-and-pound His quality takeout defense, admittedly a little hampered by his happy trigger guillotine, and his impressive melee takedown arsenal mean he’s usually the one who ends up in first place, and he’s really scary from there. the This long frame allows him to deliver real knockout punches from full guard and he has the submission defense to throw with impunity
That’s not to say he’s lost on his toes, as he has a decent jab, heavy and versatile kicks, and efficient knees to accompany good counter-timing.He is, however, significantly more vulnerable standing than on the mat He stands so high that he can leave his chin open and become unbalanced when throwing boxing combinations, a defensive weakness made worse by a tendency to back up straight He was actually propelled by a forehand from Faridun Odilov two years ago, although he eventually managed to survive.
To his credit, he manages to better use his reach to stay out of sight, and he’ll absolutely need it to survive his Octagon debut against late substitute Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira Rakhmonov has the higher cap of the two and should be able to take over if he can pass the first round, but Oliveira won’t make it easy for him
Maverick – who made her professional debut at Invicta just 19 after a 7-1 amateur career – picked up three straight wins before hitting a 1-2 skid She hasn’t tasted defeat since, winning Invicta’s Phoenix Series 2 tournament with a revenge submission from DeAnna Bennett and defeating UFC veteran Pearl Gonzalez in February
Maverick was an outstanding high school wrestler, even competing on the men’s varsity team in her senior year, and her takedown game is as powerful as expected.She has a strong double leg, a nice indoor crop in the body to body and excellent jamming ability, especially when looking to take defense Her submissions are up to par too, from her vicious bare-back choke to a dangerous array of armbands / triangles if she ends up on her back
On the hitting side, she’s pretty solid.She puts on elegant combinations, mixing her kicks and punches well, and her good sense of reach keeps her efficient on the counter However, she tends to lead with bare kicks that have taken her down on several occasions. Although she does a good job threatening from her keeper and getting up, it’s a habit she she will want to break
Overall she is extremely promising and remarkably seasoned at a very young age.She’s also way too much for first-time opponent Liana Jojua, whom she outclasses in every category imaginable In the end, expect a win dominant and potentially at an finish
Keep in mind that MMAmaniacom will be offering live turn-based, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 254 fight map here, starting with the first ESPN “Prelims” matches online, which should start at 10:30 amm ET, then the remaining sub-card balance on ESPN 2 / ESPN at 12 p.m. ET, before the main PPV card start time at 2 a.m. m ET on ESPN
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