Many will say that MMA is now mainstream, however, it hasn’t even reached its peak yet.
Fighters are starting to train at a younger age, many college wrestlers are making their transition to MMA, and regional promotions are benefiting from the exposure UFC is getting. Fight Pass, DAZN, and FITE TV have all presented streaming opportunities in 2019, truly changing fight game for the better. We’ve even seen a rise in popularity for bare knuckle fighting and grappling tournaments.
With the regional scene growing in the amount of prospects produced weekly, and the talent pool being so deep, The Scrap staff decided to put together a list of regional prospects to watch from all over the world. Below is a list of fighters on the Western and Southern United States regional scene you should keep an eye on next year.
Fighters in the Southern United States
Jason Soares (14-0, Featherweight)
Florida – “The Specimen” has been calling for his UFC shot for some time, and he deserved it too. He has an impressive record, is the reigning Titan FC featherweight champion, and had 3 finishes this year.
But Soares was done waiting and we think he made the right call. Next PFL season, Justin will debut in the featherweight tournament and get his shot at $1 million dollars. Stay tuned for this stud in 2020 with his big news!
Victor Martinez (12-4, Lightweight)
Texas – Martinez has a lengthy record for a 28 year old fighter. He had a great 2019, with three wins and two finishes. His last win was against Luis Luna for Combate Americas finishing him in the first round. Martinez could be poised for a killer 2020. If he keeps winning the way he’s winning, there’s no way UFC doesn’t call.
Dustin Lampros (5-0, Bantamweight)
Florida – “Scrappy” had a phenomenal year, going 3-0, all finishes in 2019. He has been making noise in Shamrock FC and on social media for some time now and will likely do the same in 2020. Training with some of UFC and Bellator’s best, it’s only a matter of time Dustin gets his shot with a larger promotion.
Adrian Yanez (10-3, Bantamweight)
Texas – This 26-year-old bantamweight has been looking great as of late. With three wins in 2019, two finishes and a split decision win under LFA, Yanez has to be on the short list of UFC short-notice calls. If not Contender, just sign him to the main roster. He’s young, hungry, and extremely active.
Cole Ferrell (8-0, Featherweight)
Georgia – The 27-year-old featherweight is on a 9-win streak. Fighting out of X3 Sports in Atlanta, GA., he’s clearly a submission artist. Ferrell boasts a record of 8-0-0 with seven wins via submission. In June he beat Jake Willyard by rear naked choke at Organized Chaos 16 in Topeka, KS.
Ferrell is lining up to have a great 2020, we hope to see him active again soon.
Will Morris (5-1, Lightweight)
Texas – “The Blue Chip” made his return after a year layoff and was able to defeat a solid prospect in round 1. Prior to his loss, Morris was riding a 7-fight win streak that stems into his amateur career. Now in a new weight class and a new gym behind him, Will is prepped to have a great 2020, as long as he can make 155 healthy and continue to rack up wins.
Anthony Ivy (8-2, Welterweight)
Texas – “Aquaman” has been killing it on the regional scene and is currently riding a 5-fight win streak. At 29, Ivy should be on the list of potential Contender Series call ups. Anthony is now a two-promotion champion at welterweight and seems ready for the big leagues.
Dana, give him a call!
Austin Lingo (7-0, Featherweight)
Texas – If Lingo’s name sounds familiar, its cause he’s been winning under the LFA banner for quite some time now. The young featherweight had two first-round finishes in 2019, putting him on a 7-fight win streak. Contender Series seems extremely likely for “Lights Out,” who is 1st ranked of 92 active Texas Pro Featherweights.
If his record isn’t impressive enough, his last amateur fight was a loss to the guy he beat in his pro debut. This guy is a savage.
Hailey Breanne Cowan (4-1, Flyweight)
Texas – Cowan had two successful fights in LFA this year, one that went to decision and one submission finish. “All Hail” has been fighting for LFA the majority of her career and is currently 3rd ranked of 75 active Texas women (P4P). 2020 should be a big year for Cowan, I can see her getting her Contender Series shot after another win or I could even see her being extremely successful in Invicta FC.
All we know is we want to see Cowan active, that’s all. She’s destined for big things!
Abril Anguiano (3-0, Bantamweight)
Texas – It’s crazy to see some fighters on this list being so young. Abril is a 20-year-old badass who fights out of Texas and for Combate Americas. She went the distance for the firs time in her career at Combate 40, which saw her getting her hand raised. Anguiano is one to watch in 2020 as she will likely continue fighting on the regional scene until her call up to the UFC.
Levi Mowles (12-4, Bantamweight)
Texas – Mowles fought twice this year and bounced back strong after ending 2018 on a loss. The rejuvenated 24-year-old had consecutive finishes to end the year and is now ranked #2 in Texas and US Southwest. We hope to see Mowles get the shot he deserves come 2020.
Matt Dixon (8-0, Welterweight)
Oklahoma – “Magic is on a 12-fight win streak and has gone undefeated since his amateur career. He’s been extremely impressive although he only fought once this year. One has to think, with a record like Dixon’s, it’s only a matter of time until he’s fighting under the brighter lights.
At 24, this welterweight is destined for a big 2020. Keep an eye out for sure.
Fighters in the Western United States
Orion Cosce (5-0, Welterweight) & Louis Cosce (6-0, Welterweight)
California – The Cosce brothers are going to be big in MMA, just give it a few years. Orion and Louis are undefeated and both fight at welterweight, and believe it or not, they are not twins. Louis recently made his Combate Americas debut and all it took was 18 seconds in the very first round. He fought 5 times this year and his brother 4 times.
Louis & Orion are machines and The Scrap can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for them.
Johnny Muñoz (10-0, Featherweight)
California – The 26-year-old is the KOTC bantamweight champion with a stellar record. “Kid Kvenbo” fights out of CQuence Jiu Jitsu in Norco, CA. Muñoz holds a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and has a majority of wins by submission. His last win was by rear naked choke in the second round against Ian King at KOTC: Reaction Time in September.
Muñoz would be a perfect candidate for nest season’s Contender Series.
Michael Stack (4-0, Featherweight)
Colorado – Stack has an impressive 2019 to say the least. He’s heading into 2020 on a 3-fight win streak with wins of Colorado prospect, Sean Datte, and a very game Brian Mitchell under the LFA banner. He also fought Mitchell after suffering a broken fibula in his fight camp. The 25-year-old prospect will likely continue making noise on the regional scene fighting for LFA, and eventually make his Contender Series debut.
Lisa Spangler Verzosa (5-0, Bantamweight)
Washington – Verzosa made her Invicta debut in 2018 and has not lost since. Fighting twice this year, “Battle Angel” will likely continue honing her skills in Invicta before getting a call up like most women who fight for them do. At only 24 years old, Lisa is one to watch in 2020 to see how her career progresses.
A recored like hers may even earn her a Contender Series fight next season.
Brandon Royval (10-4, Flyweight)
Colorado – Fighting out of Colorado, “Raw Dawg” holds a professional record of 10-4. The 27-year-old beat Nate Williams at LFA 79 in November, taking the flyweight title. Dubbed “The Man with the Golden Armbar,” he submitted Williams in only 23 seconds, earning the fastest submission in promotion’s history.
If UFC continues their flyweight division, Royval is perfect for that next crop. If not, let’s get him on Contender Series.
Justin Wetzell (5-1, Bantamweight)
Colorado – Wetzell is a pro fighter, fighting out of Colorado with a record of 5-1. The Elevation Fight Team prospect finished his most recent opponent, Michael Aquila via punches at LFA 79. The bantamweight finished the fight in a quick 27 seconds and is coming off consecutive finishes.
Justin is looking to capture an LFA title and/or possibly compete on the Contender Series in 2020. Both are perfect options for this 135er from Illinois.
Alex Munoz (6-0, Lightweight)
California – Munoz won one fight this year, after his successful Contender Series fight in 2018. Although not very active this year, 2020 has to be the year for Munoz, whether he’s in the UFC or back on Contender Series for a second shot at a contract. He deserves both, so we’re excited to see him back doing what he does best.
Justin Gonzales (10-0, Featherweight)
Colorado – The undefeated “J-Train” Gonzales will likely have a killer 2020. Although he only fought twice in 2019, he was successful in his Contender Series debut and remains perfect at 10-0 and looks to improve to a 20-fight win streak in his return. It’s only a matter of time until we see Justin in the UFC, another big win or a short notice opportunity may come forth for the Colorado featherweight.
Grace Cleveland (4-0, Atomweight)
Colorado – “Thai Kitty” was only able to fight once in 2019, but she recently announced her upcoming fight for KOTC. Although her next dight isn’t the KOTC title shot she deserves, she’s getting back in there where she belongs. Currently 3rd ranked of 56 active Colorado women (P4P), Cleveland has a bright figure ahead of her and it starts in 2020.