Bellator has firmly established itself as the Second best promotion in the North of America. It has produced some top fighters who are now breaking into top Ten rankings, which are usually reserved for UFC fighters. It has been refreshing to see fighters getting the credit they deserve, no matter what organization they are currently with. Fighters such as newly crowned Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Daniel Straus, Ben Askren, Douglas Lima, Patricio Freire, Joe Warren, Eduardo Dantas, Emanuel Newton, Atilla Vegh, Alexander Shlemenko, Alexander Volkov and Vitaly Minakov have all established themselves through Bellators' tournament format. Those fighters have become well known names to MMA fans and have helped the company, along with themselves, get the recognition they deserve.
There are certain young talented fighters who have already competed through tournaments and are already on their way to becoming stars for the company, fighters such as Marcin Held, Tiger Sarnavskiy and Andrey Koreshkov. I won't be including those guys in this list. I would like to take a look at the second wave of fighters making their way up the Bellator ladder. Ones that look like they will have a good future with Bellator and could potentially be the next breakout stars for the company.
Rafael 'Morcego' Silva - Bantamweight
Rafael 'Morcego' silva has now competed twice under the Bellator banner and has looked strong both times. His most recent fight in Bellator he beat previous Bantamweight Tournament runner up Anthony Leone, which is no small task. 'Morcego' looks very strong and has excellent scrambles, which prevents the opposition from getting comfortable on the ground. He has his victories pretty evenly distributed ( 8KO, 9SUB, 4DEC) and he has now won his last 13 fights in a row. He is part of the well regarded Renovacao Fight Team that house such fighters like , Jose Maria Tome (UFC) and Luis Nogueira (BellatorMMA).
Bubba Jenkins - Lightweight
Bubba Jenkins is a 2011 NCAA Division 1 champion and he rightfully earned himself the best prospect label when he decided to make the jump to MMA. Although Jenkins ended up losing his last fight, it had more to do with his over eagerness, which in turn made him gas pretty substantially, rather than anything his opponent did. Jenkins was dominant all through the first but faded in the latter rounds. At only 25 years old, if he addresses the issue of over eagerness then he will become a force in the Lightweight division. He has all the physical gifts and he is extremely athletic. At American Top Team, he will get the guidance and training he needs to reach new heights in his Bellator career.
Michael Page is a well established kickboxer who made the cross over to MMA back in February 2012. He is an absolute killer in the striking department, some have even likened his style to that of Anderson Silva. He currently sports a 5-0 record with all Five coming in the First round (3KO, 2SUB). His short MMA career took off when he got signed by Bellator earlier this year. So far he has fought once under Bellator picking up a First round Knockout of Ryan Sanders. His style will no doubt endear him to fans as he is always exciting and looking for a finish. The way his career has started is a good sign of things to come for the young Brit.
Julio Cesar 'Morceguinho' Neves Jr - Featherweight
Julio Cesar 'Morceguinho' Neves Jr is another Renovacao Fight Team member and younger brother of Rafael 'Morcego' Silva. At only 19 years old, 'Morceguinho' has racked up a pretty good 28-0 record. Okay so many of those fighters have been cans but to stay undefeated in that many fights and at such a young age is pretty unheard of. He has excellent finishing instinct picking up 89% of his wins by stoppage (17KO, 8SUB) and he is definitely a little flash as you can see from this knockout. He has the potential to do big things in Bellator.
Liam McGeary is a late starter to the MMA game but that may work in his favor. He hasn't had half the beatings that many fighters his age have had. He is a tall (6'6) rangy fighter (81 inch reach) with very heavy hands and a good submission game. From what I have seen he is also able to use his hips well when on the bottom, looking to grab hold of limbs in between with his long legs. His record is currently 5-0 (3KO, 2SUB) and did I mention he's British, so he would definitely help Bellator reach out to the market in Britain.
Everybody on the internet knows Blagoi Ivanov as the guy that beat Fedor Emelianenko in the World Sambo Championships in 2008. Pretty impressive huh. He has a fan friendly style, which in regards to his stand up is more swing than technique but he gets the job done. He is also a southpaw which generally cause problems for a lot of fighters. Along with winning the Sambo Championships he has competed for his native Bulgaria in Judo, which translates pretty well into MMA. They are bringing him on slow at Bellator, where he currently has 3 fights (3 Wins) under his belt. Hopefully we get to see him in the next Heavyweight Tournament as I think he would be a handful for their top guys.
Goiti Yamauchi - Featherweight
The man responsible for this article, Goiti Yamauchi. He is an excellent young Brazilian fighter who despite only being 20 years old, fights with the composure and knowledge of a veteran. Yamauchi is 15-1 in his short MMA career and 1-0 in Bellator. The rate at which he is improving is pretty remarkable and I don't think it will be long until he is fighting the best fighters Bellator has to offer. Yamauchi is a finisher and a great submission artist, he especially loves the rear naked choke, picking up 9 of his 13 submission wins that way. Another thing I noticed about Yamauchi is his ability to strike the body, which in MMA is highly underutilized. If he keeps progressing there is no reason that Yamauchi shouldn't be in a Featherweight Tournament in the near future.
You can watch;
Liam McGeary on 15th November @ Bellator 108
and Bubba Jenkins on 22nd November @ Bellator 109
Written by Ryan Naylor MMA enthusiast/predictor and writer
Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE >>>>>>>>
FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @ILoveMMA3
ADD ME ON FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/ultimately.mma