Searching for Future Champions: MMA's Top 25 Prospects, 19-18

Victor Decolongon

We take a look at the next two prospects in our Searching for Future Champions prospect series.

Welcome to the third installment of our Searching for Future Champions series. Today we'll be taking a look at the 19th and 18th ranked prospects on the list, Ramazan Emeev and Rick Glenn. Check the story stream on the right side of the page for previous installments of this series, where I've discussed in depth the methods and criteria for inclusion. The earlier pieces are also linked at the bottom of the article.

25) Steve Mocco (HW)

24) Michinori Tanaka (BW)

23) Nick Newell (LW)

22) Max Nunes (MW)

21) Gleristone Santos (FW)

20) Walter Gahadza (WW)

19) Ramazan Emeev, Middleweight (11-2)

Age: 26

Team: Gorec

Years Pro: 4.25

An Azeri by way of a place that should by now be familiar to all MMA fans, Dagestan, Ramazan Emeev could be yet another Russian import to make waves in large American promotions. With just over four years of professional competition under his belt, Emeev has shown consistent improvement from fight to fight, above average if not eye-popping athleticism, and a well rounded game to go along with the big power in his hands. In essence, Emeev is an outstanding representative of an emerging archetype of fighters from Dagestan.

Like the other Dagestani fighters we've seen, Emeev's striking doesn't look particularly pretty. His punches come from strange angles, especially his left hook and overhand right, but as with his countrymen, they sure get the job done. Regardless of the aesthetics, the mechanics are fantastic: he consistently brings his feet with him when he punches, giving his shots substantial power. Perhaps more important, Emeev possesses excellent timing, and is capable of exploiting small defensive lapses. He's also developed a nice little counter game that is enhanced by his improving ability to pull his head offline as he throws his shots. Finally, he almost always throws multiple strikes, stringing together powerful two-to-five punch combinations. Emeev's kicking game is still basic - it's essentially limited to single kicks at range without setups - and he's had problems defending low kicks in the past, but otherwise it's hard to find many flaws.

Things don't get any easier for Emeev's opponents in the clinch. He has smooth entries, usually off his punching combinations, and you'll rarely see him groping wildly. Once he's there, he shows good balance and leverage, making it difficult to get him down. Offensively, he's shown some trips of his own, and occasionally mixes up his clinch grappling with sharp knees and punches. However, his lack of size and strength relative to the division - he's only 5'11" - substantially limits what his technical skill can accomplish. He prefers shot takedowns to trips or throws from the clinch, and has shown an ultra-quick reactive double-leg as his opponent comes forward.

From top position, Emeev throws hard shots, but he rarely looks to pass guard and establish dominant positions. He also makes some defensive mistakes, such as leaving his hands on the mat while he's in his opponent's guard. On his back, Emeev mostly looks to tie up, but given his takedown defense it hasn't come up often. The brief flashes he's shown suggest that his guard could eventually become somewhere between serviceable and dangerous if he makes it a point of emphasis.

A pair of wins over UFC veteran Mario Miranda suggest that Emeev is ready for a step up in competition right now, and as far as I can tell there are no substantial holes in his game that have to be fixed before he faces world-class opponents. The two meaningful obstacles to Emeev's long term success, however, are his training environment and his lack of size compared to most middleweights. The latter is easy to solve with a cut to welterweight, where he'd be slightly above-average for the division. The former is more difficult. Current information has him training at Gorec, which was (and might still be) the home of recent UFC signee Rashid Magomedov, but he likely won't reach his ceiling without moving to a bigger camp. The fact that guys like Adlan Amagov, Rustam Khabilov, and Khabib Nurmagomedov have recently made the move stateside suggests that this is at least a possibility. If he does, the welterweight top 10 is a legitimate possibility for Emeev.

Рамазан Эмеев vs. Марио Миранда, Emeev vs. Miranda, 2nd fight full mma Hd video (via M1GlobalRussia)

M-1 Challenge 35 - Ramazan Emeev vs. Mario Miranda 1 (via mazur289)

Рамазан Эмеев vs. Альберт Дураев, mma video HD (via M1GlobalRussia)

18) Rick Glenn, Featherweight (14-2-1)

Age: 24

Team: Roufusport

Years Pro: 4.5 (three-year amateur career beforehand)

Roufusport's Rick Glenn might not possess the off-the-charts athleticism and explosiveness of his teammate Anthony Pettis, but he brings an effortless calm, great cardio, and an ice-cold, methodical approach to the cage. A well-rounded veteran with boatloads of experience, Glenn was scheduled to face Georgi Karakhanyan for WSOF's featherweight crown in November, but was forced to pull out due to a family emergency.

As one would expect from a Roufusport product, Glenn is an excellent striker. A boxer in his youth, that background is still visible in his rangy jab (he stands an even 6 feet), which he doubles up regularly, and the ultra-quick straight left he throws from his southpaw stance. He strings his hands together in crisp combinations, and regularly follows his punches with quick, powerful kicks at all three levels. Glenn doesn't really have huge, one-punch knockout power, but the accumulation of strikes from his brutal, unrelenting pace is often enough to put his opponents down by the second or third round. He has a bit of a tendency to reach with his punches, and if he works more on keeping his feet under him, that relative lack of big power might disappear. Defensively, Glenn does a good job of using efficient footwork and head movement to avoid shots, and he consistently pulls his head offline to avoid counters. He can get a bit wild in exchanges, though, and sometimes forgets his defensive fundamentals in the heat of the moment.

Glenn uses his height and length well in the clinch. He has sneaky trips, but the real meat of his inside game is to be found in his elbows and especially his brutal knees. He throws them with a great deal of force from every possible position in tight, and they come at every opportunity. He's left multiple opponents' ribcages the color of a tomato can by the end of the first round, and that body work often pays dividends later in the fight. Glenn's takedown defense is surprisingly good, with a nice sprawl and good use of head pressure. Moreover, it's noticeably improving with successive outings. The most interesting facet of Glenn's wrestling and clinch games, however, is the extent to which he delivers offense in transition. He consistently looks for knees as his opponent stands up and elbows on clinch breaks, and the ability to find openings bodes well for him in the future.

While the ground game isn't his specialty, Glenn is comfortable on his back. He gets hit a bit too much in the guard, but it's difficult to pass, and he has an array of setups for the triangles and armbars that play off his long legs. His top game, however, is vicious. He throws hard punches and elbows, and consistently looks for dominant positions. Glenn could stand to keep a heavier base - he's been reversed or shucked off a number of times - but the impulse to drop bombs from top position isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Glenn is ready for top-flight competition right now; while he's far from a finished product at only four years into his professional career, there's nothing left for him to learn in the regional promotions. Remaking the bout against Georgi Karakhanyan that was scheduled for November would be the perfect, gradual step up that suits his current development. Given his training at Roufusport, there's every reason to think that he can continue to develop his wrestling, guard, and striking into the kind of fighter who sits comfortably at the fringe of the top 10 or possibly a bit higher.

Rick "The Gladiator" Glenn MMA Highlight - MolesyMMA (via Jamie Moles)

Rick Glenn vs Lyndon Whitlock (via shaun white)

Previous installments:

Revisiting the World MMA Scouting Report

Honorable Mentions and Methods

25-23

22-20

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