Over the last few years, Regional MMA has been consistently growing. The IMMAF has grown immensely, becoming a solid building block for amateurs to hone their craft before becoming thriving pros. Regional fighters have also been able to build their hype on platforms like UFC Fight Pass under promotions like Eternal MMA, CFFC, and the LFA.
To say the least, today’s talent pool is deeper than it has ever been. Read about 20 amateur fighters who will one day make noise in their divisions…
Flyweight, Selina Mongi (2-0)
Mongi has an impressive long frame at flyweight standing at 5’7″. She throws beautiful straight punches sticking away from her preferred range. Mongi throws a ton of volume and a lot of that comes from her kicks. She throws a lot of variety with her kicks and can do it in small spaces. She could be better at moving her head being the biggest issue so far. In the same sense, she’s proved she can push a pace, deal with pressure, and take a punch. Although there is still a lot that needs to be seen that’s expected as an amateur.
Bantamweight, Peter Lucitt (6-0)
Lucitt is unknown for the most part, but is a very talented guy. In his last outing, he won the Shamrock bantamweight title, and before that won the Apex FC bantamweight title. Lucitt is a guy that can take the fight anywhere and be super dangerous. He throws some heavy straight punches and kicks over the top. He’s good at mixing it up and throwing in short spaces. If you allow him to set the pace, he’ll pick you apart. If you don’t and get in his range, he will get the takedown and finish the fight from there.
Middleweight, Fergus Jenkins (8-0)
Jenkins is a standout IMMAF fighter that had a breakout year. This year, Jenkins won five fights and was crowned the 2021 IMMAF Senior middleweight World Champion. He has the talent today to be fighting as a pro, and he would have really good success. All his best work comes from when he gets the takedown. His takedowns come off well-timed entrances. He does a great job catching kicks, slipping under punches, and using that momentum when coming forward. All things that you don’t see a lot in a young fighters.
Bantamweight, Drew Dickson (8-1)
Dickson looks like a wrestler, and that’s what he is. He’s a good one at that too… Dickson is always fighting in close quarters; fighting his fight, making it a gritty grinding affair, if that’s what it takes. Dickson is a solid wrestler, but it’s his relentlessness and the tenacity of always shooting on a leg. He scrambles very well too, and along with that, he’s a super-strong guy. With the right training, (which is what he’s doing) he could be a force for years to come.
Bantamweight, Sabrina Laurentina De Souza (12-0)
Sousa had a much better amateur career than some women competing years as a pro. She has won three IMMAF golf medals – two world championships and one European championship. There are a lot of positives you can see with Souza, and negatives you can’t find. She has spent the majority of her time striking. Her takedown defense has looked stellar and from what I’ve seen of her on the ground, she’s very capable. She actually has more submission victories than anything else. Sabrina Laurentina De Souza is a high-level bantamweight that will make a splash as soon as she turns pro.
Light-Heavyweight, Levi Rodrigues (5-0)
“Baby Monster” has indeed been a monster throughout his MMA career. Not only MMA, but Rodrigues has also competed in boxing, BJJ, judo, and muay thai. The best way to describe him is he’s a heavy-handed guy. He wastes no time pressing forward, and letting his hands and kicks go. All five of his wins he’s got the finish in under a minute…
Lightweight, David Zoula (10-0)
Zoula is a young 22-year-old stud out of the Czech Republic. He has good experience and fought a few good records like 6-0, 8-0, and 4-0. Zoula has gone the distance more than anything and those fights have been one-sided. He hasn’t shown much of his striking, but throws good kicks and uses that to set up his takedowns. Zoula does have some solid wrestling skills as well; being able to drive in on the hips, cut the corner, and finish a big takedown.
Featherweight, Jon Vetle Furuheim (10-2)
Furuheim is the current Cage Warriors Academy South East featherweight champion. The 19-year-old Norway native already has a good title around his waist at a young age. Furuheim can do it all it terms of finishing it on the feet and on the mat, along with a good gas tank. On the feet, he has some pop behind his hands and a lot of volume. He likes to go after the body and throw a lot of kicks as well. Furuheim also has some good wrestling when needed, and will snatch the neck if the opening is there. I really like Furuheim already at such a young age.
Bantamweight, Jimmy Quinn (4-0)
Quinn is the current Cage Warriors Academy South East bantamweight champion. He is all action as soon as the bell rings. He can be too overzealous, but it has worked in his favor. Letting his hands and kicks go, and just letting it flow isn’t a problem for Quinn. He is well-rounded too, and arguably a better wrestler and grappler. He’ll actively threaten to finish and that’s with hands, kicks, ground and pound, and submissions.
Flyweight, Aieza Bertolso (11-1)
Bertolso is the most recent gold medal winner of the IMMAF Senior tournament championship. And was the 2021 IMMAF European and World Champion. After losing once in 2019, she has won her last/next nine fights. Bertolso has a good size for the division, and it’s easy to be impressed with every aspect. Her grappling is her strong suit, but she’s fully capable anywhere the fight goes.
Welterweight, Ramazan Gitinov (23-2)
Gitinov is arguably the best amateur prospect worldwide. He has won a slew of medals in his long career. He’s a five-time gold medalist ranging from world championships, European, Open, and Oceania medals. He’s very adaptable, but is a high-level wrestler. His ability to close the distance and elevate his opponents is nice to see. Gitinov can chain wrestle at a high clip as well. Although wrestling is his safe space, he’s a technical fighter on the feet and has a lot of offer. Gitinov at any point can turn pro and be a top guy the next few years.
Atomweight, Magdalena Czaban (13-2)
Czaban is a staple of the IMMAF brand. She’s a two-time European IMMAF champion, and an IMMAF Junior world champion in 2019. She’s also an ADCC Polish 2021 champ. She’s possibly the next big thing out of Poland… The 22-year-old is good everywhere but does excel more on the mat maybe. She is a little small at 5’1″, but it hasn’t held her back yet.
Bantamweight, Alejandro Gomez (6-0)
Alejandro Gomez is a student under his coach UFC lightweight Trey Ogden at Glory MMA, and has looked great. Gomez is quick, well-rounded, explosive, aggressive, and extremely diverse. He’s someone that really throws everything and anything just flowing in the motions. He’s got some tricky stuff he likes to throw, everywhere being extremely tough to read. Gomez has shown a well-versed complete game with no issues so far.
Lightweight, Ashton Kirby (11-1)
Kirby is an impressive young man that could do very well in the pros right now. He’s primarily a wrestler, and his striking is improving. On the feet, Kirby has that “herky-jerky” style, throwing a lot of flashy attacks while using a lot of feints. He is explosive and he has a strong right hand he throws. Kirby stays busy and it helps his takedown entries. He is a strong wrestler, getting on the inside landing emphatic takedowns. His grappling is where he shines. He is a very aggressive grappler, easily passing guard, gliding on top. His back take is insanely quick. Kirby has a dangerous RNC and he will attack triangles, kimuras, armbars, etc. I would put him as a huge submission threat no matter where he’s at.
Lightweight, Matt Cantwell (6-0)
Matt Cantwell has solid wrestling, but if he’s just on the mat in general, he’s right at home. Cantwell is solid off his back though, as he has finished twice with a triangle set up off his back. While on top, he grapples heavy and grapples to finish. Cantwell is persistent when transitioning and isn’t someone you want in a dominant position. His wrestling, cardio, pressure, and grappling all standout.
Featherweight, Ethan Burmingham (7-0)
Burmingham is still a super young kid at only 18-years-old. While he’s nowhere near his full potential, his ability to catch attention speaks volumes. Burmingham has competed in various grappling contests and it’s by far the main focus in his MMA fights. The young man is a serious jiu-jitsu specialist. Comfortable going to his back, he’s extremely flexible and ultra dangerous just throwing his legs up and attacking submissions. Burmingham has a lethal triangle choke, which seems to be his favorite tool. If he doesn’t force guys to tap in the triangle, he will land elbows and hold them in the position, making life difficult. Of all the amateurs I’ve watched, Burmingham is one of the best grapplers I’ve seen. He’s the 125-pound submission hunter champion, a five-time world champion, and a ten-time national champion.
Welterweight, Fernand Reyes (5-0)
Reyes is a big welterweight standing at 6’2″. From what he has shown on the feet, he is super aggressive, has good hands, and seems to have good countering ability. Although he has two TKO’s on his record, both of those come by the way of ground and pound. Reyes has proven to be a good wrestler too. So far, he has timed his entries very well. He’s been able to just rush across the cage and bully other guys down. The work Reyes has done on the mat has been substantial. All his finishes have come by ground and pound and submissions. Reyes is all danger on the mat as he’s looked levels above as an amateur.
Welterweight, Craig Willingham (6-0)
Willingham is someone I’m fairly confident has a bright future. He is first and foremost a striker. From what I’ve been able to watch, he has perfect takedown defense too. He’s done a good job making guys pay when they shoot, as he defends and lands shots of his own. Willingham does have an underrated ground game, but it’s put in the review mirror behind some excellent work on the feet. He is a 6’1″ fighter that knows how to use his length to his advantage. Being a distance fighter, he’s excellent at fighting on the outside with long punches including a slick one-two. Willingham is very dangerous on the feet with his hands, kicks, knees, athleticism, explosiveness, and his shot-selection. I believe he’s the real deal.
Atomweight, Hannah Rokala (11-1)
Rokala has had a long amateur career, and has fought some good competition. Her only loss is to current UFC fighter Sam Hughes. She’s a light on her feet striker that does a lot of lateral movement. Her right cross is sharp and she’ll mainly fight behind a lot of flashy sidekicks. Her biggest weakness is her takedown defense, but off her back is probably where she’s best. Rokala has fluid hips and will frequently throw up the armbar and the triangle. Rokala is a BJJ purple belt with a karate style on the feet.
Welterweight, Ryan Gerena (10-0-1, 1 NC)
Outside of MMA, Gerena did wrestle and was a state champion. He even competed in some kickboxing. He has a good amount of amateur fights as well, winning the Triton Fights welterweight title and defended that title multiple times. Gerena is light on his feet and has many qualities striking, but his wrestling is what stands out. Along with good wrestling, he grapples very well. I’d imagine we see a lot more of Gerena in the near future.