Top 40 MMA Prospects of 2017: 30-21

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With so many different countries and promotions participating in MMA around the world it can be hard for fans and even experts to track upcoming MMA prospects.

In a sport like football, it’s much different. We not only have College football on TV, but we even have High School football on TV as well as sports networks like ESPN and FOX tracking the best future talent.

In MMA, it’s not like that at all. Luckily with online streaming services like UFC Fight Pass and FloCombat we’re able to see a lot of these smaller promotions, but even then some the fights are going on in all different time-zones.

Luckily we have a lot of experts going around and tracking top prospects and we did our best to put a list together of the top 40 up-and-coming fighters for 2017.

In the first part in this four-part series we introduced numbers 40-31, on our list of top prospects. In part two we spotlight numbers 30-21.

*Note that the list only contains fighters who have fought for less then 5 years as well as talent that have been in the UFC for over a year although we made a few exceptions to the rule.

If you think we missed any prospects, leave a comment below and we’ll check it out.

#30: James Gallagher: 3.5 star – Record 5-0         

Division: Featherweight
Age: 20 | Country: Ireland| Affiliation: SBG Ireland
Style: MMA| Promotion: Bellator | EXP: 1 Year

A lot of pressure is on both 20 year old prospect James Gallagher and his coach John Kavanah due to the success of Conor McGregor. Gallagher is Kavanah’s best prospect and a lot of people are wondering if he can produce another high level fighter like McGregor and Gunnar Nelson.

Gallagher won the IMMAF championship in 2015 (an International amatuer tournament.) He turned pro the same year and has won all 5 of his fights, 4 of which were submissions.

Gallagher has a similar striking stance to McGregor, but he doesn’t have near the precision, accuracy, or power. His standup game is really what he needs to work on the most. He has pretty good kicks, but his hands just aren’t there yet.

He has outstanding submission skills and is a purple belt under Kavanah. Last year he signed with Bellator and picked up 2 wins against so-so competition.

#29: Drakkar Klose: 3.5 star – Record 7-0-1           

Division: Lightweight
Age: 28 | Country: USA | Affiliation: MMA Lab
Style: MMA | Promotion: UFC | EXP: 2.5 years
For years Benson Henderson has been shouting at UFC officials in his post-fight interviews to sign his training partners at the MMA Lab, and now we’re starting to see a few of them like Drakkar Klose make it.
Klose signed with the UFC late last year and made his debut against ‘Lookin for a Fight’ star Devin Powell. Klose dominated Powell en route to a unanimous decision.
Klose is a powerhouse stocky lightweight who is real aggressive. He is excellent at cutting off the ring and pressure guys to the point where they need to run to get away.
He’s just an all-around great fighter. It’s going to be real fun to watch him grow and prosper in the UFC.

#28: Ian Heinisch: 3.5 star – Record 7-0                      

Division: Middleweight/Light Heavyweight 
Age: 28 | County: USA | Affiliation: UKN
Style: Wrestling | Promotion: LFA | EXP: 2 years
Ian Heinisch is a guy who’s been on the UFC’s radar for a few years having tried out for the Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately his checkered past left him off the roster but he is still a guy the UFC will eventually bring in.
Heinisch is a former high school wrestling champion in Colorado. He didn’t turn professional until 2014 after legal trouble. In his 2 years as a pro, he’s racked uo 7 wins.
He’s a very athletic fighter who obviously has good wrestling but is also not too shabby on his feet. He’s also very quick for a Middleweight/Light Heavyweight.
He’s maybe one or two victories away from getting the contract with the UFC.

#27: Tyler Diamond: 3.5 star – Record 6-0             

Division: Featherweight
Age: 28 | Country: USA | Affiliation: Team Alpha Male
Style: Wrestling | Promotion: Global Knockouts | EXP: 1.5 years
Tyler Diamond is a ferocious wrestler who fights out of Team Alpha Male. He wrestled for North Dakota State in college.
When you watch Diamond fight, you can tell he almost always has the strength advantage. He is real well at timing the takedown and when he gets his opponents on the ground he attacks with vicious ground-and-pound. He is also real good at passing through his opponents guard.
His striking game is growing a bit as well although he still has a bit of a tendency to wing to overhands. But his footwork seems real nice and a lot of wrestlers seem to develop great power, and we think Diamond could be one of those guys.
Tyler turned pro in 2015 and has won 6 consecutive fights. He currently fights for Global Knockouts in California.

#26: Kwan Ho Kwak: 3.5 star – Record 9-1              

Division: Bantamweight
Age: 27 | Country: South Korea | Affiliation: Korean Top Team
Style: MMA | Promotion: UFC | EXP: 3 years

Kwan Ho Kwak will be a big time fan favorite in the UFC. He’s one of the most exciting prospects on this list who fights out of South Korea under Korean Top Team.

Kwak was the PXC (a growing organization out of Guam) Bantamweight champion and has been in some really entertaining fights. Kwak is a striker who throws wicked combinations and has real good power. He also throws a lot of kicks and has knocked out opponents with head kicks.

Unfortunately Kwak drew a really tough Brett Johns in his UFC debut losing a unanimous decision. Hopefully he gets another shot in the UFC because he is a real fun fighter to watch.

#25: Khusein Askhabov: 3.5 star – Record 14-0         

Division: Bantamweight
Age: 21 | County: Luxembourg | Affiliation: Unknown
Style: Karate/Sambo | Promotion: WWFC | EXP: 4 years
Khusein Askhabov is one of the more interesting prospects out there. He turned professional in 2013 at just 17 years old.
Born in Luxembourg, Askhabov is Chechen and trains out of France. He is mostly Karate and Combat Sambo based and has pretty good wrestling skills. Right now he has a lot of raw talent but he’s really starting to put it all together.
A lot of experts consider him the best prospect in Eastern Europe and he could possibly sign with the UFC at some point this year.

#24: Amir Albazi: 3.5 star – Record 8-0                  

Division: Bantamweight
Age: 23 | Country: Iraq/Sweden | Affiliation: UNK
Style: BJJ | Promotion: Various | EXP: 7 years**
Amir Albazi is a Swedish fighter who transitioned to MMA from a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu background. Albazi was born in Iraq and moved to Sweden at age 7. At age 14 he watched his first UFC fight and started training not too long after.
Albazi is a highly decorated BJJ practitioner having has claimed to of won 5 world championships, 6 European championships, as well as 8 Swedish championships competing in BJJ, submission wrestling, no-gi, and MMA.
Albazi interstingly turned pro in 2009 at age 16. After going undefeated in 4 fights, Albazi took 4 years off and returned in 2014. Since he’s fought 4 times winning all 4 fights by stoppage against so-so completion.

#23: Brett Johns: 3.5 star – Record 12-0                

Division: Bantamweight
Age: 24 | Country: Wales | Affiliation: Chris Rees Academy
Style: MMA | Promotion: UFC | EXP: 4.5 years

Brett Johns is a Welsh fighter who dominated the European regional scene for several years before coming over to America and winning the Titan FC Bantamweight title.

Johns also won the Cage Warriors Bantamweight tournament in 2014 as well as another title on the regional scene.

Johns is a really well-rounded fighter who seems to always time his takedowns perfect. He comes from a Judo background and seems to get those odd angled takedowns from time-to-time.

He has a real good resume as well having beaten UFC veterans Walel Watson and Anthony Gutierrez.

Johns probably would have been in the UFC a lot sooner if he hadn’t struggled so much missing weight in the past. Hopefully he has put that past him as we know the UFC doesn’t play those games very often.

#22: Niko Price: 3.5 star – Record 10-0                   

Division: Welterweight
Age: 27 | Country: USA | Affiliation: ATT Cape Coral
Style: MMA | Promotion: UFC | EXP: 5 years*

Niko Price is just one of those guys that seemingly comes out of nowhere and jumps to the big stage on short-notice and finishes Brandon Thatch in the first round….wait there aren’t many guys that have done that!

Training out of an American Top Team affiliate in Cape Coral Florida, Niko Price has exploded on to the scene signing with the UFC last year and finishing both opponents with ease.

Price was brought up through the Fight Time promotion in Florida where he was the Welterweight champion for several years.

Thus far in his career he’s won 9 fights by stoppage (7 KO’s and 2 submissions.)

#21: Dmitriy Sosnovskiy: 3.5 star – Record 10-0  

Division: Heavyweight
Age: 27 | Country: Ukraine| Affiliation: Oplot Team
Style: MMA | Promotion: UFC | EXP: 4 Years*

Dmitriy Sosnovskiy is a Ukrainian fighter. Like many of the Russian fighters, Sosnovskiy has an aggressive style and mostly uses his wrestling to take opponents down where he unleashes brutal ground strikes.

He signed with Bellator in 2015 but never debuted in the promotion. Last year he signed with the UFC.

The only thing keeping Sosnovskiy so far down on this list is the fact that he’s fought really weak competition. His best win is against Alexander Emelianenko in 2014. That’s just about as good as a 2014 win against Alexander Emelianenko.

Now that he’s in the UFC, we’re going to see him face much stiffer competition which obviously will be a great indicator of where he’s at.

We are at the half way point. Prospects 20-11 continues the trend of showcasing the amazing young talent from across the globe.

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