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2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report: Featherweight EXTRA! #2

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One last peek at an absolutely stacked featherweight division.

As promised, Grant and I are taking one last look at the featherweight division before moving on to the middleweight pastures. He's done his report on the extra grappling fighters he encountered and now I'm fixing up my list of all my other favorite featherweights who just didn't make our top ten list for one reason or another. These are the rest of the guys to watch out for; guys who could be legit talents around the world, in a division that is generally stacked with fun fighters and fights to watch.

I've broken the list down into three sections. 1) Just Missed: For those fighters that just barely fell out of our top ten, and at featherweight there were a bunch of those. 2) Probable Callups: These are the guys who you're very likely to see make it to the UFC or Bellator in the near future, whether it's due to nationality or camp affiliations, I expect to see these guys fighting in the big shows. 3) The Rest: These fighters are talented and interesting, but because of location, timing, or just career youth, aren't quite on the radar as being on the verge of breaking onto the big stage, or perhaps even fighting off their regional scene; these are the fighters that I found remarkable, even if not necessarily traditional prospects. With that, here are the fighters that just missed the top ten.

Just Missed

Oleg Borisov (Age: 31 Record: 12-1 Camp: Fight Nights Country: Russia) - Oleg Borisov is a scouts dream in almost every way except one: His age. He's only been fighting for about 3 years, and in that time has shown an amazingly powerful wrestling and ground and pound game, to go along with an explosive shot and big power in his hands. He's aggressive, he's consistent, and when he beats people he crushes them. But, in a division as deep as FW, we couldn't really justify making room in our top ten for guys that didn't fit our exact restrictions. Add in to that that he's really short for the division, and has some holes in his grappling, and that's why Borisov is sitting just on the outside looking in. Still, I expect to see him at the highest levels of the sport before long, and he could give the bantamweight division a real run for it's money.

Levan Makashvili (Age: 25 Record: 6-1 Camp: Mutant MMA Country: Georgian-American) - Good news fight fans, Levan Makashvili is already set for his UFC debut. I lost more than a little sleep when it came down to not including him in our top ten. He's a great athlete, a strong wrestler, and a technical striker, with a patient, well schooled ground game. And at only 25, and with only one and a half years as a pro under his belt (and maybe a little more stretching back to some unrecorded bouts in his homeland), it's obvious that Makashvili is going to be a very good fighter in the future. The only reasons he missed out on our top ten? He was coming off a loss at the time we were making our selections (he's since avenged that loss) and he hasn't always been the most aggressive fighter in the world. That's certainly something that could improve over time, so it's not a major knock against him. But, it was just enough to bump him off our list.

Shane Burgos (Age: 23 Record: 5-0 Camp: Tiger Schulmann Country: USA) - Like Makashvili, Shane Burgos is a young US based fighter who really looks to have a lot of potential at the top end of the sport. Coming up under the Tiger Schulmann system (where Uriah Hall started), he's got a solidly technical, high output Muay Thai style. He couples that well with good footwork a nice trip takedown game and a really solid, lock down top game. Everything he does works really well together, and he's got a ton of time to round it all out into an elite skill set. Honestly, the only thing that concerned Tom or me at all about him (and which kept him out of our top 10) was the fact that he's already undergone spinal surgery for scoliosis. He's a great young fighter with a lot of potential, but that's the kind of medical history that raises serious questions about his ability to compete long term at the highest levels of the sport.

Alexander Peduson (Age: 21 Record: 6-0 Camp: Russian Top Team Country: Russia) - Peduson is an easy shoe-in for the next scouting report as a top prospect. At the moment, the only real knock against him is that at he's not quite developed as a top prospect yet. He's hyper aggressive, a nicely technical striker, and a really aggressive grappler and wrestler. He doesn't quite have the technique down in all areas of his game, but he has such a high work-rate and high pressure style, that at the moment it doesn't really matter. As long as he continues to fight and train, it seems like his grappling and wrestling will continue to develop. The biggest thing to look for is whether or not he bulks up physically more. If not, he may be a natural bantamweight, but at his age, it seems more likely that he'll fill out a bit.

Probable Callups

Andre Harrison (Age: 26 Record: 7-0 Camp: Bellmore Kickboxing Country: USA) - Harrison is very obviously a physical talent. One of those guys who may not quite be the fastest or most fluid fighters in the cage, but is very obviously really strong and durable. He's not the best at initiating it, but where Harrison really shines in the cage is with his wrestling and lock down top control. Especially when opponents work to take him down, his great strength and balance gives him a big advantage in stuffing shots and winning scrambles. Once he's on top, he's very good at creating and maintaining positions of control. He's shown flashes of really violent ground and pound too, when fighters give defensive openings in the scramble, and can be a violent finisher. As he continues to train and develop, he has the potential to become a Mark Munoz-esque top control wrestler.

Jarrett Rouse (Age: 24 Record: 4-0 Camp: Team Rouse Country: USA) - Rouse has yet to really make any waves on the US regional scene, but he's a fighter that I could see being a real sleeper talent. He's got a lot of experience on the ISKA kickboxing scene and it shows in his nicely developed, technical boxing and clinch game. To go along with that (although I haven't seen a ton of it) he also appears to have at least the basics of a wrestling and top game. At least functional to the point that he could fit the mold of some of the other rising striking talents we've seen. Like Peduson above, he seems a little small for featherweight, and bantamweight may be more his long term home. But, he's also been training at a pretty small camp. If he made the move to one of the larger MMA camps, he may be able to gain more mass, with a better strength and conditioning program. Still, aggressive, technical strikers with takedown defense are at a premium in MMA, and the fact that he's fighting in the US, makes it ultra likely he'll get to one of the bigger shows.

Maxim Divnich (Age: 25 Record: 9-0 Camp: Country: Russia) - Obviously, as the reigning M-1 lightweight champion, it seems like it would be more fitting to have Divnich on that list. But, at just 5' 8" and with a history of fighting a featherweight, the likelihood of him ending up down a division at the UFC level seems high. In general, if we can scout someone for a lighter division, we're going to, because almost everyone drops on their way to the UFC. Like a lot of the more skilled Russian strikers, Divnich is a powerful, technical beast standing, and a bit of a wash everywhere else. He's not a terrible wrestler or grappler, but will drop for some funky heel hooks, and tends to just try and run over opponents rather than really take them down. Still, with his polish and development standing, as well as his physical tools, he could be a very hard man to beat at the highest level.

The Rest

Yusuke Yachi Age: 24 Record: 12-4 Camp: Krazy Bee Country: Japan) - The first of two Japanese fighters to get a hard look from Tom and me, Yusuke seems like the next Japanese fighter likely to make the jump to the UFC. He's young, he's got a ton of experience, and he's got a fun, reasonably fast paced striking style, which makes him well suited to higher levels of competition. More to the point, not only is Yachi a good technical striker (and counter striker, but he's a great transitional striker and fills in the gaps between the mat and standing well with accurate punches. That kind of skill could make him an especially credible threat in the UFC. His training out of Krazy Bee also makes him a lot more likely to take the jump up to the big leagues than a lot of fighters on the JMMA circuit might be. And PXC has already proved a good jumping off point for fighters like Hyun Gyu Lim and Dustin Kimura.

Rasul Mirzaev (Age: 28 Record: 8-0 Camp: Fight Nights Country: Russia) - There's no question that "The Black Tiger" is a talented fighter. He's a high output striker, with great footwork, speed, and power. Add on to all that that he's been a pretty high level combat sambo competitor and the stage has been set for Mirzaev to be one of the better rising talents in MMA. Of course, he's also been to prison, recently, in what was a highly publicized manslaughter case, where Mirzaev ended up killing a man in a street fight. That cancelled his contract with Bellator, and likely ended any hopes of seeing him outside Russia. So, while Mirzaev may not be destined for the biggest stages in MMA, he's still very much a fighter in development.

Arman Ospanov (Age: 24 Record: 6-0 Camp: Alash Pride Country: Kazakstan) - Much like Peduson and Rouse above, Arman Ospanov is a very dynamic interesting striker. More than either of those two, Ospanov tends to have a traditional martial arts base to his offense, using a lot of dynamic movement to set up big singular strikes. He keeps a low base to stuff wrestlers and then use the threat of stuffing a shot hit spinning kicks to the body and head. Also like Rouse and Peduson, he's probably just a bit undersized for the UFC at 145 lbs. He's a great athlete and an exciting talent, but it's hard not to look at what he does and think that at least some of his success is due to fighting on a very underdeveloped regional scene. It also makes the likelihood of him getting to the UFC at longer odds, but Alash Pride has been developing a number of interesting fighters, and someone like Ospanov may be on a few promoters' radars.

Juntaro Ushiku (Age: 19 Record: 10-2 Camp: Wajutsu Keishukai T-Live Country: Japan) - Ushiku is very much a gamble as a long term talent. But, he's someone that I really like in the more recent flashes I've seen of his fights. It seems like he's really added a lot of mass and power recently, which fits right into his wrestling and control game. For a 19 year old he's really powerfully built. It also looks like he's been developing his power striking to take advantage of that strength and make himself a more dangerous well rounded fighter. He may be something of a long shot, but as someone that's always looking for those fighters way under the Radar, Juntaro looks like he could really make waves if all the chips fall into place with his training and progression.

Stay tuned for the Middleweight division, coming up next! 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

Flyweight Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
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EXTRA!
#1. Duquesnoy
#2. MagomedovTemirov
#3. Froes
#4. Jordan
#5. Motta
#6. Vitruk
#7. Askhabov
#8. Grundy
#9. Matmuratov
#10. Azhiev
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#1. Usman
#2. Mustafaev
#3. Nurmagomedov
#4. Khaliev
#5. Scope
#6. Vartanyan
#7. Kadestam
#8. Piraev
#9. Amosov
#10. Tokov
EXTRA!
Middleweight L. Heayvweight Heavyweight W.Strawweight W. Bantamweight
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#1. Mokhnatkin
#2. Martell
#3. Kurbanismailov
#4. Astakhov
#5. Ankalaev
#6. Edilov
#7. Prochazka
#8. Albrektsson
#9. Moore
#10. Gamzatov
EXTRA!
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EXTRA!
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EXTRA!
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EXTRA!