The regional scene is starting to look slimmer with so many prospects fighting on Contender Series and getting signed to the UFC. With regional champions rarely defending their belts and talent being signed to multi-fight contracts with various promotions, we decided to put together a list of prospects that UFC Fight Pass promotions have missed out on.
Building talent is critical, but keeping them active is more important. Especially as they build their name recognition with local promotions.
Below are 10 regional fighters that could generat hype on UFC Fight Pass.
It’s clear that Austin Bashi has star power. He’s been absolutely killing it in the XFC since signing with them. With the next card yet announced, we thought it was a no-brainer to feature Bashi first on this list. He’s young, talented, and very well rounded. Just 19 years old, the future is bright and if he isn’t fighting in the XFC, he should be on the main card of a LFA or CFFC card.
With some fighters recently allowed to fight outside the promotion, we’d like to see Bashi back in the cage sooner than later. But as a homegrown talent for the XFC, we doubt that freedom will be allowed. He’s a future world champion though, and he’s going to continue building his name on the regional scene. So get on the hype train now.
Although Zedekiah Montanez has not fought since 2019, we’re hopeful a return is in the near future on the biggest platform possible. He is a flashy fighter who is fun to watch anytime he fights. He also has all the tools to do big things in the sport if the stays active.
Montanez’s last three fights came by way of first-round knockouts… So you know it’s often a quick night when you’re in there with him. Make sure you keep an eye on Zed, because those Pennsylvania boys are no joke.
The Cahill Brothers: Taylor & Tanner Cahill
Speaking of Pennsylvania boys… The future of the sport is in good hands. As more NCAA wrestlers make the transition to the sport, at the forefront are the Cahill Brothers. Taylor Cahill will eventually make his presence known in the lightweight division, while his brother Tanner will run the ranks at feather or bantamweight.
Arguably, wrestling is the best base for mixed martial arts. With their BJJ credentials starting to rack up, the sky is the limit for these two. Add some striking and a couple more fights that go the distance and you’ll have two well-rounded beasts who will make noise in the pros.
Not only is his social media game on point, Cris Lenconi is a character that deserves to have all eyes on him next time he fights. Weirdly released by Bellator after an impressive 3-fight win streak over tough competition, it’s crazy that the UFC Fight Pass promotions haven’t jumped on signing him.
He’s a main event-level talent that will bring viewers. And he can sure as hell promote his fights. With the right backing, Lencioni can get right back to where he was before the pandemic hit—on his way to the top.
Not only is Elijah Smith an undefeated amateur prospect to watch, he’s a rapper with some bangers. The Colorado prospect has what it takes to make it in the cage and outside of it. What’s most exciting, is his next fight will be at bantamweight so it’ll be interesting to see how he looks in a new weight class.
The offspring of former Ultimate Fighter contestant Gilbert Smith, Elijah will without a doubt continue to make the right decisions on his rise to the pros. Currently undefeated with goals on becoming a two-promotion regional amateur champion, Elijah Smith is one to keep an eye on. Likely around the gym his whole life, his come-up will be one of the more interesting ones to tune into.
These second-generation fighters are all coming slowly but surely, and they are no joke!
Kenny Cross is a star, and unfortunately XFC wasn’t able to get much of him after his recent injury. But he’s back on the road to recovery and almost ready to make his return. If we’re honest, Cross should be in the UFC already. But since he isn’t, it’s time to get back in front of the people in charge of those decisions, and that’s on UFC Fight Pass.
He’s flashy, has the look, and can back up the talking. He’s truly a no-brainer signing that the UFC can build or bring back on Contender Series. Even though his fight went to a decision when he was on Season 4, Cross did the company man thing and made back-to-back weight cuts just to get a shot at a UFC contract. We’ll be glued to social media to see Cross’ next announcements after his most recent one that he will be training at Murcielago MMA. The level up is real…
‘The Twin Dragons’: Josh & John Wang-Kim
Josh & John Wang-Kim have everything it takes to be huge stars in the sport. They understand how to market themselves, they both are fan-friendly fighters, and are starting to build their following on the regional scene. With so many new brother & sister duos entering the sport, these two are among the standouts for sure.
The only issue is they haven’t been able to find consistent fights or people to sign the dotted line against them. Hopefully that changes soon and we can see them under the LFA for Cage Warriors banner soon. They are too good not to be in front of the biggest promotions possible.
We recently started tuning into the Sarek Shields show, and boy are we mad we didn’t sooner. Successfully turning pro this year after being inactive due to the pandemic, Shields was able to rack a 5-1 ammy record before making the jump. His only loss was to current UFC fighter, Josh Quinlan who is coming off a big KO win on Season 5 of Contender Series.
Shields has all the makings of a potential star that could be flying under the radar due to fighting on promotions not on UFC Fight Pass. But under the radar no more, Shields deserves your attention. He’s a finishing machine and one to keep a close eye on at middleweight. We’re excited to watch his career continue to unfold on the regional scene.
What are your thoughts on the list? Who did we miss? Comment below.