The majority of MMA stars today were once exciting amateurs hoping to one day climb the ranks at pro. Whether it was a lengthy career or short-lived, fighting at amateur allowed them to hone their skills and get comfortable in the cage.
There always comes a time in every fighter’s career where they need to decide if they want to take another amateur fight or make their highly anticipated pro debut to start making money. With the fight game consistently evolving, it’s time we start showcasing amateur MMA fighters and supplying a platform to build a fanbase.
So here at The Scrap, we decided to highlight ten exciting amateurs that will be, or plan on making their professional debuts soon. Make sure you’re following them now, because they all have potential to do big things in the sport of mixed martial arts.
“Fighter” Jett Grande makes his highly anticipated professional debut on August 6th for the XFC promotion. It’s very rare to see 15-1 amateur fighters in today’s MMA. Though he’s making his jump to the pros after a loss, Grande has 4 finishes on his record and has plenty of experience going the distance.
Grande takes on Damon Morosko on the XFC Young Guns 3 card, hoping to showcase his well-rounded skillset on one of the biggest stages possible at this point in his career. The Canadian prospect signed a multi-fight deal, so you’ll be seeing of him on Fox Sports more often than not.
Jared Brown was supposed to make his pro debut at LFA 110. Although the fight did not happen, “Bad News” is still one of the few amateurs with under 5 fights to keep a close eye on. He’s exciting to watch…
The undefeated prospect fights out of Oklahoma and boasts a 4-0 record with one fight going the distance. He is currently 2nd ranked of 44 active Nevada amateur featherweights and is only 25-year-old. If you ask us, he is more than ready to make waves amongst the professional ranks.
Devon Lozej is an undefeated amateur bantamweight out of Thunder Bay, ON. Though the may fly under the radar for the casual MMA fan, the Canadian prospect is a fun one to watch. On August 15th, “The Dream” will look to make a statement in his pro debut at BTC 11 after a short, but impressive amateur career.
Lozej has a tough test ahead of him though in Albaraa Atmeh. The scrap truly has potential to be the fight of the night. With a bright future ahead of him, the journey starts back up this summer after almost two years off. Make sure you tune in.
Luke Fernandez is an absolute beast; he’s someone we’ve been keeping an eye on when it comes to up-and-coming prospects coming out of the east. What makes him more exciting is his weight class. There seems to be a shortage of light heavyweight fighters on the regional scene right now, so I’m sure Fernandez will turn pro sooner than we think.
Currently 3-0 as an amateur, you can watch this young prospect’s rise on CFFC. Though he fights on the Facebook prelims at the moment, we’re positive you’ll be seeing him on UFC Fight Pass in the next year or so.
Eric “Night Time” Nolan is a problem most pro 170ers will have to solve soon enough. Currently 6-0 with 4 finishes on his record, the military vet turned fighter is one you want to make sure you’re following before he turns pro.
On top of capturing the CFFC amateur welterweight title, Nolan went off and followed that performance up with a first-round submission win at Ring of Combat 72. His gym is full of promising prospects, but Nolan might very well lead the charge of the next generation of New Jersey fighters.
If you’re looking for your next “it” girl in MMA, look no further than Colorado’s Jasmine Montoya. Although she is only 1-0 as an amateur, Montoya announced recently that her next fight will be her pro debut. After a big TKO win over Shelby Hungness at Sparta Wyoming 7, Montoya showed killer instinct and great striking.
She looks to make the leap and test the waters under the Combate promotion on August 6th. Keep an eye out for this promising prospect on CBS Sports this upcoming weekend; things seem to be happening fast for Montoya, so we’re excited to watch her career unfold.
Noufel El Kasri
Noufel El Kasri is an exciting featherweight prospect fighting out of Elevation Fight Team in Colorado. The Moroccan kickboxer has been developing a well-rounded skillset since fighting on the regional scene, and it looks like he’s ready for the step up in competition.
El Kasri will make his Fury FC debut when the promotion comes to Colorado for the first time since the pandemic. Make sure to catch him on Sept. 12 as he takes on Jason Mullen inside the National Western Complex.
Sam Paneitz is definitely one of the most exciting prospects at flyweight currently. He was supposed to make his pro debut on several occasions, but opponents pulling out and an injury needing surgery has kept that from happening.
Currently riding a two-fight win streak, the 23-year-old prospect boasts an impressive 13-1 record. It’s very rare to see this in regional MMA today, especially with everyone ready to jump to the pros and make money. Keep an eye on this one though, as he’ll likely go pro soon now that he’s healed up from surgery.
“The Chinese Disappointment” is one of the most well-rounded 4-0 fighters we’ve ever seen. Although he’s still an amateur featherweight with no pro debut in sight, Alan Liu is one of the more exciting fighters who fight on the Pennsylvania/New York MMA scene.
Though every fight has gone the distance for Liu, you’ll notice that he often dominates his opponents with crisp striking and solid wrestling. To top it all off, he has the personality that fight fans will love and want to follow as they continue to watch his career.
Tennessee’s Kyle Linder has been perfect throughout his amateur career. At 5-0, the 23-year-old bantamweight prospect has shown a solid ground game and is entertaining to watch. With 4 submission wins in the first round and 1 decision win, Linder has a shown he can go the distance, but would rather not.
Leaving the amateur ranks as the 3rd ranked of 71 active Tennessee amateur bantamweights, Linder was scheduled to make his pro debut this month. Though it won’t be happening, he is one to watch as he takes on the next level of competition at 135-pounds.