In this feature, I will list five prospects globally who fought in September who I think are ready to make the jump to the so-called ‘Big Show.’ Even during the pandemic, there has been plenty of MMA action, and many high-quality fighters around the world have taken to the cage of late.
Here are five such standouts I think are ready to fight in the big show next.
Two-weight Cage Warriors champion Mason Jones (10-0)
Wales’ Mason Jones (10-0) made history in September when he became just the third Cage Warriors fighter – alongside Dan Hardy and Conor McGregor – to become a dual-champion in the promotion. Honestly, Jones has passed every test in his path with flying colors outside of the UFC, where he hopes to land soon; there is nothing left for him to prove in Cage Warriors.
Sure, there are some exciting fights to be made in the U.K. promotion, but why do so when he’s already made history and is such a promising fighter right here, right now? In his last six fights, his competition had a combined record of 59-17-1 which is pretty darn good.
Ahead of his welterweight title fight, Jones was highlighted by MMA-Prospects as a fighter to watch and spoke to this outlet to detail his aspirations.
Speaking to MMA-Prospects after the bout, Jones made his case for a UFC opportunity.
“I’ve not only stopped my last two opponents in the first round [in] fights that were for Cage Warriors titles, but I’ve stepped up a weight class while basically weighing the same weight just to prove that I am ready. I’m ready to take the training wheels off and ready to be challenged,” said Jones.
“My future is in the UFC, nowhere else. It’s where I want to be, and where I’m gonna go is to the top.”
Fight Nights Global middleweight champion Vladimir Mineev (15-1-1)
I’m surprised Mineev is still not fighting for a big promotion at this stage in his career. The Russian has kept pretty active, fighting twice in 2019 and twice this year, so far.
In early September, Mineev won the Fight Night Global middleweight title with a standout third-round stoppage of Dauren Ermekov, which earned him a place in MMA-Prospects’ European Evaluations highlight article.
Right now, at 30-years-old, he’s in his athletic prime and is riding a seven-fight win streak; the iron is super hot. It’s worth mentioning that Mineev’s lone loss, at the hands of Brazil’s Maiquel Falcao, was a complete robbery and Mineev won the rematch.
Outside of MMA, Mineev has a background in kickboxing, where he holds a stellar record of 23-2 and multiple titles.
Cage Warriors bantamweight champion Jack Cartwright (9-0)
Jack Cartwright (9-0) had a huge 2019, scoring four wins, signing with Cage Warriors, and winning the Cage Warriors title.
One year ago, in September 2019, Cage Warriors held a one-night four-man tournament. Among the names, Cartwright was the biggest underdog, yet he won with two first-round knockouts.
Cartwright already has two title defenses – one coming just a few weeks against a very talented Gerardo Fanny. Although he has some highlight-reel knockouts, Cartwright is an even better wrestler and grappler. Cartwright is as good as they come, and he can make an impact on any big promotion out there.
Cartwright told MMA-Prospects that he’s ready for the opportunity.
“I’m ready because I’ve trained and competed against guys who fight at the highest level across multiple weight classes,” said Cartwright. “I bring high-level wrestling and knockout power in any and every strike I throw, and my future is to put on exciting fights in the UFC and win a world championship.”
Contender Series and CFFC alum Ramazan Kuramagomedov (8-0)
Ramazan Kuramagomedov (8-0) is one of the many hot prospects emerging out of the Russian MMA hotbed. He has a few good wins, and his most notable one is over fellow Dana White’s Contender Series veteran Jordan Williams, who is now in the UFC.
Kuramagomedov has been doing it right coming to the States, training with the illustrious Mark Henry and former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
His last fight was for CFFC, a top U.S. regional promotion airing on UFC Fight Pass, further increasing his exposure to a wider MMA audience. Kuramagomedov won by arm-triangle in the second round.
I’m just about positive his next fight will be under some brighter lights.
Former ACA lightweight champion Eduard Vartanyan (20-4)
Perhaps the most polished of the five prospects outlined above, and certainly the most experienced, Eduard Vartanyan (20-4) is a staple of Russia’s top MMA promotion, ACA. Having fought there since 2015, it’s been a long journey with the organization, and September marked the final fight on his contract.
Vartanyan has already called for a shot in the UFC, and if the promotion is smart, they’ll snatch the free agent up with a quickness. He has tons of fight experience against very tough competition in the last few years. Signing Vartanyan would be big from any promotion.
MMA-Prospects contacted Vartanyan, who laid out why he deserves a UFC opportunity.
“I’ve beaten The Who’s Who of Russia!” Vartanyan told MMA-Prospects. “Now, I’m ready to test myself and prove that I belong in the UFC. I’ll fight anyone at lightweight or welterweight.”