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Bloody Elbow Scouting Report: Light Heavyweight EXTRA!

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You saw our ten best, now it's time for all the rest. Here are the fighters that didn't quite make the cut for our light heavyweight list.

Light heavyweight has been a strange division to sort. Even after we finished, it still throws new problems at me. One of the fighters set to go on this list just lost, last week. In his place arises a new prospect, a new fighter to watch, but it also brings up all the old problems of trying to separate the wheat from the chaff in a division that is 95% chaff. To that extent I bring you our extra report, where we've squirreled away all the fighters that either just barely missed the cut or didn't quite feel right for our list for one reason or another.

This list will be divided into three sections: "Near misses," guys that just missed the cut. "Probable callups," guys that you're probably going to see in the UFC or Bellator soon, and "the rest." The rest are those fighters that I just find myself really drawn to for one reason or another, regardless of their probability of ever finding success on a bigger stage. These are the fighters I'm going to be watching out for wherever their career goes. So, let's take a look at the extra fighters from this year's light heavyweight scouting report.

The Near Misses

Guilherme Viana (Age: 28 Record: 6-1 Camp: Rizzo RVT/Team Noguiera Country: Brazil) - A contestant on TUF Brazil 3, Guilherme Viana is a fighter who has got to be knocking on the door of a UFC contract. His stint on TUF didn't go as planned, getting TKO'd in the first round by eventual winner Antonio Carlos Jr. However, that's a pretty small footnote (and especially meaningless one considering it's an exhibition) given Viana's generally promising skills and record. In just under three years, Viana has amassed a 6-1 record, with all wins coming by stoppage, five in the first round. His only loss is a split decision to longtime vet and former UFC fighter Rodney Wallace. Viana has the size and strength of a legit light heavyweight. He strikes with power, controls the clinch well, and even has a pretty decent wrestling game. He's not a mind blowing athlete, and his clinch entries can be pretty basic, but he's got the tools to be a competitive light heavyweight in the UFC right now.

Stephan Puetz (Age: 27 Record: 11-1 Camp: Team MMA Spirit Country: Germany) - On paper, few prospects look better right now than Stephan Puetz, and I can understand if there's a fair bit of criticism to be made for him not making our list. After all, he's big (at a rangy 6' 6"), has as competitive a record as anyone else on the regional scene, and has been fighting for just a little under three years. And trust me, when I say I vacillated a lot on picking him. He's got great cardio and a serviceable grappling game, but his wrestling just isn't there and he hasn't shown the bursts of next-level athletic ability that make me feel sure he can compensate for that lack of wrestling consistently against opponents. He also has quite a bit of work to do on his striking, as he tends to find himself either pushing his punches at opponents in range, or reaching out over his feet to connect from a distance. He doesn't get great power in his strikes consistently, or strike with a lot of fluidity. With Puetz's record, activity and imposing frame, I have no doubt that he could move on to the UFC, but I'm really unsure of how well he'd do there.

Vagab Vagabov (Age: 28 Record: 14-0 Camp: ETT/Nova Uniao Country: Russia) - Sometimes the things keeping a fighter off our list aren't so much to do with ability as they are with size and personality. Vagab Vagabov is undeniably skilled enough to be a capable fighter in the UFC or Bellator. He's incredibly aggressive, has striking speed, is tough, and wrestles and grapples with power. But, he's also exceptionally small for a LHW and doesn't have great takedown defense. And when I say he's aggressive, I mean to a fault. I've seen him in a couple situations where he just looks unhinged, trying to punch through the ref or complaining constantly over fouls. Couple all that with the fact that he's been competing off and on since 2006, and it's hard to think of him as an elite prospect, even with a great win over Artur Astakhov on the books for him.

Probable Callups

Dirlei Broenstrup (Age: 33 Record: 12-3 Camp: Team Link/Boxer MMA Country: Brazil) - Broenstrup is an interesting fighter as a prospect in that it seems like it's taken a lot of time for his ability to really shine. Like a lot of regional LHWs, he's pretty noticeably undersized, standing just 5' 11". It's not a tiny 5' 11", he's a pretty beefy dude, but naturally he'd be a middleweight in the UFC. Offensively he strikes pretty well, throwing decent basic kickboxing combinations with speed and power. Defensively, he's not the most sound fighter, but he's not terrible. Most notably he's been affected by some gas tank issues when he tries to get out ahead of his opponent quickly. He wrestles remarkably well for a fighter on the Brazilian circuit, and isn't technically weak anywhere. Most recently he won the Jungle Fight light heavyweight strap, so I'd expect a call from the UFC in reasonably short order.

Alexey Butorin (Age: 28 Record: 8-0 Camp: Barbarians Fight Team Country: Russia) - Alexey Butorin is in a bit of the same place of Stephen Puetz. He's got the record, he's got the size, he's even got some good wins, but everything doesn't quite hold up on tape. At heart, Butorin is both an amazingly powerful puncher and an amazingly bad wrestler. The fact that he is so, so strong seems to be saving him on the ground a lot at the regional level, but he doesn't even sprawl with relative ease or efficiency. Still with his combination of power and wins, Butorin is very likely to find a home on a big show. Officially he's been fighting for 6 years, but he's really only started in earnest in 2013. If he can win a few more fights the way he has so far, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him getting a call to the UFC or Bellator.

Josh Stansbury (Age: 30 Record: 6-2 Camp: Team Impact Country: USA) - No lies, this spot was supposed to go to Jeremy Osheim, before Stansbury demolished him on November 21st. Stansbury has been putting together a nice run on the US regional circuit, going 6-0 after an 0-2 start. He's avenged both his losses since then, and if it weren't for an ill fated run on the most recent TUF light heavyweight season (in which he injured his knee in the opening round), might have some real momentum behind him right now. Stansbury has a pretty solid brawling style and throws powerful overhand punches. As his timing and accuracy have improved, it's made him a real KO threat. He's pretty adept at getting trip takedowns as well and maintaining top control. It's not the most exciting game in the world, and his frame may be better suited to middleweight, but I'd be willing to bet he'll be on a UFC card before long.

The Rest

Viktor Nemkov (Age: 27 Record: 21-5 Camp: Red Devil Sport Club Country: Russia) - In a lot of ways Viktor Nemkov typifies the kind of regional LHW prospect that dominates at the lower levels, but has a lot of trouble breaking through to the elite. He's a strong, aggressive grappler, a passable athlete, and has the generally complete skill set of a fighter who has already spent seven years competing. Still, things have never quite totally gelled for Nemkov. He's not an outstanding athlete and at range he's very much a low output, low power striker, which puts him in danger when closing the distance for takedowns or getting into the clinch. His above average grappling skill has gotten him wins over some very good competition, but his lack of explosive athletic ability has also seen him lose his share of ugly fights. While he's under 30, and could get a call up to a bigger org, his long career and recent losses make that feel a bit unlikely.

Dovletdzhan Yagshimuradov (Age: 25 Record: 9-4 Camp: Sport Club Oplot Country: Turkmenistan) -  It's a weird thing to say, but Yagshimuradov may be one of my favorite fighters I've ever scouted. He's a national Karate champion in his home country, and while I wouldn't ever call his striking Machida-esque, it's fascinating to see another karate fighter with a patient counter striking style. What really sets Yagshimuradov apart is that he's really an elite athlete, but just not a very well schooled one in the MMA meta-game. He wrestles well offensively but not defensively, scrambles well, counter strikes well, but isn't very consistent with his aggression. he's also very small for LHW, and would almost certainly have to drop to MW for a major promotion. Eventually, it's very unlikely that he makes it off the Russo-Slavic MMA scene, but he's a fighter I'll be following with interest.

Alexandar Rakic (Age: 22 Record: 7-1? Camp: Iron Fist Gym Country: Austria) - Much like Josh Stansbury above, this was a slot that was supposed to go to someone else. I was all set to highlight Polish karate champion Marcin Prachnio, before Rakic KO'd him. Rakic reminds me a lot of Jiri Prochazka, who appeared on our top 10 list, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Rakic there next year. He's big, athletic, powerful, and totally un-refined. He also has a bad habit of pulling guard and looking for armbars, and essentially has no wrestling ability. But, he has the kind of raw gifts that mean a good camp could change all that in a hurry if he can get hooked up with one.

Dorian Ilic (Age: 24 Record: 6-2 Camp: Piranha Gym Kastav Country: Croatia) - Ilic is actually a small heavyweight, rather than a light heavyweight, but having weighed in as low as 220 for his heavyweight bouts, there's basically zero chance he fights effectively at that weight in a bigger promotion. So, he's here as a LHW prospect. He has great power and handspeed for a big man, and has shown at least some passable takedown defense (although I'm not incredibly sold on it. Overall, his combination of size, youth, power, and speed make him a potential exciting fighter to watch even if he's fighting on an extremely underwhelming regional circuit.

Martin Pierscinski (Age: ? Record: 3-0 Camp: Paderborn Wombats Team Country: Poland) - Polish-born German, Pierscinski is still very much a raw talent in MMA. He comes from a no-gi grappling background, but in the cage he fights more like a man on fire than anything. Much like Ilic above, Pierscinski is a small HW on the regional scene (in the 220 range) at which point the idea of him being a major heavyweight prospect just doesn't make sense. While his fighting skills are almost completely structure-less and wild, he does look like a very good, strong athlete, and can be very light on his feet. If he can move on to bigger and better camps, he has a lot of untapped potential.

Stay tuned for the FW Scouting Report, coming soon! And to look up other articles in this series check out the table below. For comments, questions, or suggestions head down to the comment line or reach out to T.P. and Zane on Twitter: @TP_Grant and @TheZaneSimon

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

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#1. Usman
#2. Mustafaev
#3. Nurmagomedov
#4. Khaliev
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#7. Kadestam
#8. Piraev
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#1. Mokhnatkin
#2. Martell
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#4. Astakhov
#5. Ankalaev
#6. Edilov
#7. Prochazka
#8. Albrektsson
#9. Moore
#10. Gamzatov
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