Although the UFC, Bellator, PFL, and ONE Championship are stacked with the world’s best martial artists, there are many names outside of these major organizations that are due for a spot on the big show. Regional MMA has grown an immense amount over time and is currently the strongest it has ever been. The global talent showcased weekly is something special and is the reason MMA is the fastest-growing sport in the world. Being that there are thousands of fighters outside of major organizations, and tons of regional promotions, it was difficult to narrow the list down to five. With that being said, these five have paid their dues and deserve to be in the limelight on the big show.
Josh Silveira (7-0)
It is no secret the LFA double champ is a prospect with insanely high potential. It is also a safe bet to say he has a UFC-caliber skillset and fight IQ. The 29-year-old South Floridian has shown minimal, if any, weaknesses in his game. Despite the impressive start in his first five fights, it was his last two in which he’s proven he’s one of the brightest prospects in MMA. After landing a picture-perfect head kick knockout to earn LFA light heavyweight gold at LFA 115, he displayed a grappling clinic and defeated a worthy challenger in dominant fashion at LFA 119 to snag the LFA middleweight strap. As the son of American Top Team co-founder and UFC veteran Conan Silveira, the coaches and teammates he has around him are the highest level a fighter can get. In his seven pro bouts, he has scored six finishes; five in the first round. Silveira’s lone decision victory proved he can go 25 minutes and be active offensively for the entirety of the bout. Whether he is a title defense away or ready now, it would be beyond shocking to not see Silveira on the big stage by the end of the year.
Ramazan Kuramagomedov (9-0)
The Dana White’s Contender Series and PFL veteran is an absolute pleasure to watch as a fan. Kuramagomedov is a force to be reckoned with in the cage and has proven that in every scrap he has been in. In his war with now-UFC welterweight Jordan Williams, he displayed a solid chin and a versatile striking skillset however, he did not get to display a ton of that Dagestainian grappling. The Russian has finished six of his nine victories and has five wins by way of submission. Kuramagomedov is a teammate of Zabit Magomedsharipov and has a scheduled bout with tenured UFC, PFL and WSOF vet John Howard, on January 28th at Eagle FC’s scheduled American debut. With a win over a veteran like that, it would be a surprise for a prospect like this, who is under 25 years old, to get a call-up.
Juan Puerta (23-6)
Juan Puerta has been a well-known name on the regional scene for years now. In his last bout, he was victorious on Dana White’s Contender Series 46, however, he was not given a contract. The Colombian American flyweight has done just about everything on the regional scene, securing three Titan FC flyweight straps, a Caged Aggression flyweight title, and the number one flyweight ranking outside of a major organization. American Top Team’s Puerta is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt and has finishes in 13 of his 23 victories. At 33 years old and a winner of 12 straight bouts, it is hard to imagine getting a fight on the regional scene will be easy for Puerta and his team. After getting a much-needed surgery, his return may not come for a couple of months, however, a call-up for Puerta is long overdue.
Da’mon Blackshear (11-4)
The newly-crowned CFFC bantamweight champ has been someone to keep an eye on over the last few years. Seeing him get the success he deserved as the year went on was something special. After switching up his gym and making the sacrifice living at the Jackson-Wink dorms, Blackshear has taken his game to the next level. His record is a bit deceiving as his losses have come to UFC veterans Pat Sabatini and Kris Moutinho, and Bellator veterans Keith Richardson and Danny Sabatello, however, he has held his own in those bouts. Blackshear is a well-rounded talent and has a solid resume of his own, defeating Tony Gravely and Aalon Cruz. Blackshear has finishes in eight of his 11 wins and has seven submission wins. He also has secured wins in five of his last six bouts. Blackshear may be someone who could get a shot on Dana White’s Contender Series later this year, pending his future with CFFC.
Levi Mowles (16-4)
It is safe to say Mowles will get the next shot at Fury FC bantamweight gold as he was scheduled to do so prior to an opponent change at Fury FC 52. The 26-year-old Texan is due for a big-time scrap with either gold or a contract from a major organization on the line. Whether it is putting his opponents to sleep with strikes or grappling, Mowles can do it all. With that being said, his ground game is his bread and butter as he is a Jiu-Jitsu black belt. The 20-fight veteran does his training at Fitness Fight Factory and recently spent some time at Next Generation MMA Frisco, training with Bryce Mitchell. Mowles has won 11 of his 16 bouts by finish and is the proud owner of a submission victory via twister. His resume speaks for itself as he has shared the cage with Raufeon Stots, Miles Johns, Tony Kelley, and Damon Jackson. Mowles also holds wins over Adrian Yanez, Jimmy Flick, and Teruto Ishihara. Mowles getting a title shot with Fury FC seems like what is next, but it won’t be much longer until he is signed to a big-time promotion.