Several writers from The Scrap have come together to create Homeland Prospects, a series focused on MMA prospects that represent the nations we call home. As a number of us come from different sides of the globe, you can expect to see a wide variety of countries, states and promising athletes within our articles.
The U.K. has been a hotbed of talent for years, producing multiple high-level fighters and the gyms behind them. Despite this, only one person—Michael Bisping—has been able to attain a world title on the grandest stage. Bisping was crowned UFC middleweight champion in June of 2016. As the sport continues to grow, it’s to be expected that we will one day witness another champ from Britain.
Read about three British prospects that should be on your radar.
Despite its small size, the nation of Scotland regularly punches above its weight in mixed martial arts. Producing names such as Robert Whiteford, JoAnne Calderwood and Casey O’Neill. As more representatives break into big promotions like the UFC and Bellator, they achieve greater things than their predecessors. This could be the case for Chris Duncan.
Fighting out of Stirling, Scotland, lightweight Chris Duncan has built up the reputation of a solid finisher throughout the regional scene and Bellator, boasting a 100% finish rate. His ability to finish, pristine record and penchant for firefights appeal to all viewers, making him one to watch for the future.
Duncan last competed in October under the Bellator banner, yet it was clear where he was aiming to go. The UFC had always been his dream. Earlier this year, he was informed that he would receive his chance on Dana White’s Contender Series. “The Problem” was more then eager to earn his contract, with many considering him a solid favorite heading into the September 28 encounter. However, things wouldn’t play out as expected: Duncan’s opponent, Manuel Gaxhja, missed weight and pulled out of the fight hours before.
More than deserving of an opportunity, fans can expect to see Chris appear on the ongoing Contender Series or be directly handed a UFC contract.
“I’m willing and ready to step in for anyone. They [the UFC] said they are on it. I’m in the best hands possible. Fingers crossed people”-CHRIS DUNCAN FOLLOWING THE NEWS OF HIS OPPONENT’S WITHDRAWAL.
You’ll struggle to find a young prospect from the U.K. with as much hype as Muhammad Mokaev.
At just 21 years old, the Dagestan-born Mokaev has constructed a reputation befitting of a veteran, sporting a combined 28-0-1 record from both his amateur and professional days. The sole blemish on his record comes from a ‘No Contest’ in June of this year, a fight “The Punisher” is hungry to avenge. Currently competing for BRAVE FC and representing the U.K., the bantamweight has made good progress thus far in his career, fighting stiffer competition while upping his own performance. Many have questioned why promotions such as Bellator or the UFC haven’t come knocking, but according to Mokaev himself, he’ll sign on his own terms.
“I’ve been offered [the chance to appear on Dana White’s] Contender Series before the fight with Abdul Hussein, but I’m one of the fighters that wants to go straight to the UFC. I don’t need to go through the Contender Series to let people know about me. I deserve straight road to UFC.”-MUHAMMAD MOKAEV TO MMA JUNKIE
Being offered a shot on the Contender Series at 3-0 is almost unheard of, speaking to the current ability and potential Mokaev carries with him. Yet despite his willingness to walk directly into the UFC, the fact he’s struggling to find opposition while at regional level may force the move sooner than expected. Few are willing to stand across from the formidable wrestler and it’s not hard to see why.
Whether he makes that step in the next few months or postpones it to years, the future of Muhammad Mokaev will remain exciting. Don’t be surprised if he eventually claims a gold belt of his own at some point down the line.
On September 30, Londoner Dominique Wooding made his sophomore Cage Warriors appearance. He fought for the promotion’s bantamweight title in the main event of their 127th card. While he had only one win in Cage Warriors, his debut had sent a message to all: he wasn’t one to play around. Wooding needed just over a minute to run through fellow prospect Cameron Hardy, a win so impressive that it granted him a championship opportunity.
While the undefeated Nathan Fletcher – a good submission artist with plenty Cage Warriors experience – was certainly a step-up in competition, Wooding would once again stir excitement throughout the regional community, clawing through adversity to finish the youngster via head kick and punches. Within three months he had gone from highly-touted debutee to 135-pound King.
It’s fair to assume that many consider “Black Panther” ready for an increase in competition. However this writer argues the opposite. Wooding was released from Bellator in 2020 as a result of a 1-2 stint, and prior to that, was unsuccessful in a sole ACB (now ACA) outing. Now, I’m not saying he wouldn’t survive amongst the best at 135… But I’d prefer to see him continue his growth and maturity on the regional circuit. He’s only 25 and should be in no rush.
A number of options and entertaining bouts await Dominique Wooding. With the likes of Liam Gittins and Josh Reed in the title picture, he should have his hands full with dangerous contenders.
What do you think of our three U.K. prospects? Leave a comment down below.