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 International fighters you should keep an eye on next year.
International Fighters on the Regional Scene
Modestas Bukauskas (10-2, Light Heavyweight)
Lithuania – I wouldn’t be surprised if UFC announces that they signed Modestas in the coming months, he would be a killer addition to the 205 division. If not, then I can see him fighting in Contender Series next year. He had an amazing 2019, with three finishes under his belt, a title win and defense too.
He’s 10-2 and an absolute stud, building his name in the UK with Cage Warriors and TV appearances. The 25-year-old is bound to have big 2020, keep an eye out for Bukauskas.
Rafa Garcia (11-0, Lightweight)
Mexico – This young killer has been terrorizing the lightweight division on the regional scene for quite some time now. He is currently on an 11-fight win streak, and ranked #1 in California, Mexico US West, Arizona, and US Southwest. “The Gifted” has looked stellar fighting for Combate and it’s only a matter of time until he gets his big UFC opportunity.
Definitely look out for Rafa in 2020.
TJ Laramie (11-3, Featherweight)
Canada – “The Truth” is a 22-year-old featherweight with an impressive record. Laramie won the TKO featherweight championship in 2017 when he beat current UFC featherweight Charles Jourdain. He picked up the featherweight belt in December at PFC beating Andrew Cruz (7-4) by unanimous decision. The Maximum Training Centre prospect had three fights in 2019 and won them all, collecting belts along the way.
It’s only a matter of time until he gets the call up he deserves, or at least a shot on Contender Series.
Dricus Du Plessis (14-2, Middleweight)
South Africa – Du Plessis may be a name you have never heard of, but with a record of 14-2 at 25 years old, you have to ask what’s next for this young killer? He’s been fighting most with Extreme Fighting Championship since 2013 and has been terrorizing middleweights in South Africa.
Let’s get this killer on Contender Series and put him up against some of the best in the world. He’s a savage who deserves more attention.
Julija Stoliarenko (8-3-1, Bantamweight)
Lithuania – Stoliarenko was part of the TUF: Heavy Hitters and fought on the finale card, although not in the finale herself. Since her stint with TUF, she has not lost a fight. She’s definitely proving a point, that she belongs in the UFC. I say let’s give her a shot. I would hate to see her have to fight on Contender Series, so let’s give her a call up. She fought four times this year, winning them all via armbar in round 1.
Serhiy Sidey (4-0, Featherweight)
Canada – This 23-year-old Canadian featherweight is on a 6-win streak. His pro record is perfect, with three wins in a row via KO/TKO. Sidey’s last win was at BTC 7 in August 2019 where he bested Kevin Bastian Popwick by KO in round 1. He is ranked the #5 pro featherweight in Canada and is destined for a great 2020.
Ian Garry (3-0, Middleweight)
Ireland – Garry had a great 2019 with Cage Warriors. Weathering the storm early on in his last fight to crank out the win at the end of round 1, Ian showed he’s a well rounded mixed martial artist. He went 3-0 in 2019 after making his pro debut and has shown he belongs in the spotlight. He has been promoted heavily in the UK, so imagine what Cage Warriors has planned for Ian in 2020? It should be a good one for the Irishman.
Casey O’Neill (3-0, Strawweight)
Australia – First and foremost, with a nickname “King,” you know O’Neill is coming to kill every time she steps in the cage. Her record proves it too. She only has two decision wins over her 10-fight career, stemming back to her amateur days and she likes to stay rather active. Casey won all four fights this year and will continue to improve on the regional scene in 2020. Who knows, a few finishes could put her on UFC’s radar earlier than expected.
Jasmine Jasudavicius (3-0, Flyweight/Strawweight)
Canada – The 30-year-old Niagara Top Team/Para Bellum athlete is a force to be reckoned with in the women’s flyweight and strawweight divisions. Jasudavicius recently showcased her skills at BTC Eliminator 8, where she quickly finished Christina Ricker with body shots in 52 seconds of round 1. The Canadian talent is 3-0 as a professional, went undefeated as an amateur, and had two fights this year that awarded her nominations for fight and KO of the year under the Cage Titans and BTC banners.
Roberto Soldić (17-3, Middleweight)
Croatia – Roberto has 20 fights on his resume and he’s only 24 years old. SAVAGE. “Robocop” is absolutely one you want to keep an eye on heading into the new year. Especially with a nickname like that. Ranked the #1 middleweight in UK/Ireland, Poland, and Europe Eastern, Soldić has to be on UFC’s radar. If he isn’t, shame on them. With 2 wins in 2019, look for this killer add a fifth win to his current streak early next year.
Teshay Gouthro (3-0, Bantamweight)
Canada – The 25-year-old bantamweight has a professional record of 3-0. “My House” won by unanimous decision against Ariel Arellano Zuniga (1-1) at BTC Eliminator 8 in November 2019. Gouthro turned pro in 2019 and was successful in all three of his fights this year. He definitely has set himself up for a killer 2020, and we’re excited to see what he does.
Alejandro Flores (17-2, Featherweight)
Mexico – This young stud is undoubtedly one to watch next year. Currently ranked #1 in Latin America, U.S. West, California, Mexico, and the United States at featherweight, Flores won two fights this year for Combate Americas via unanimous decision. He’s been fighting for the organization for some time, but with a record like that, you’ll have to wonder when the jump the big leagues comes. Should come soon.
Aaron Jeffery (7-2, Middleweight)
Canada – The first-ever Canadian Contender Series contestant fights out of Niagara Top Team and Para Bellum MMA. With a record of 7-2, the 27-year-old middleweight is getting ready for his next fight on January 17 at Combat Zone 73 in Manchester, New Hampshire. There he will face Tim “The Bear” Caron. Jeffery is the current BTC middleweight champ and looks to become a two-promotion champion in early 2020.
If Jeffery wins this impressively, UFC should be calling.
Melissa Martinez (7-0, Strawweight)
Mexico – “Super Melly” has been kicking ass in Combat Americas since going 1-0 and she has looked tremendous. So good, she’s riding an 8-fight win streak which steams from her amateur career. Ranked #1 in Mexico and California, and #4 strawweight in the United States, it’s only a matter of time we see Martinez in the big leagues.
Anthony Romero (6-0, Lightweight)
Canada – Nicknamed “The Genius” for his smart fighting style, Romero is a 22-year-old lightweight from Welland, Ontario. With 14 consecutive wins in his back pocket, he is a force to be reckoned with in the lightweight division. The Para Bellum/Niagara Top Team athlete has a perfect record and won his last fight by unanimous decision at KOTC Showtime II.
Romero is hoping for an active 2020 with his new free agency status or a potential Contender Series call.
Matt Speciale (4-0, Lightweight)
Canada – The Brampton, Ontario lightweight is undefeated, his last fight at BTC in November ended via doctor stoppage in round 2 when his opponent Michal Mokry sustained a cut to the forehead. Speciale fights trains at Bazooka Kickboxing and MMA and has spent his pro career with the BTC organization.
Scott Hudson (11-5-1, Welterweight)
Canada – “Handsome” fights out of Para Bellum MMA in Oakville, Ontario. The 32-year-old recently captured the BTC welterweight title in November when he beat Jarel Askew by unanimous decision. He’s been asking for his call up and we hope to see him get it, he deserves it. And Canada needs more fighters representing in the UFC.
Mason Jones (8-0, Lightweight)
United Kingdom – Jones will likely be one of the next call ups from Cage Warriors in 2020. He’s a badass and racked up 2 wins this year, proving he can go the distance and look impressive doing it. “The Dragon” is set up to have a great 2020, heading into the new year with a perfect record.
Adam Assenza (11-6, Lightweight)
Canada – “The Maverick” is a pro MMA fighter out of Burlington, Ontario and the 8th ranked pro men’s lightweight in Canada. Assenza fought Hamilton Ash at BTC in November picking up a unanimous decision win. The Para Bellum MMA athlete is the former BTC lightweight champ and is hungry to take back the title in the new year.
Lupita Godinez (4-0, Strawweight)
Canada – “Loopy” fights out of Titan MMA in British Columbia. She is ranked the #1 Canadian woman P4P fighter in the country. Godinez recently picked up the BTC strawweight title at BTC 8 Eliminator in November, where she faced a tough opponent, Lindsay Garbatt. She has a perfect 4-0 record, and is on a 6-fight winning streak.
Mariya Agapova (9-1, Flyweight)
Russia – Agapova was on Contender Series this past season and although she did not get her hand raised, she’s been on a tear in Invicta FC. With recent back-to-back first-round finishes, Agapova has set herself for a killer 2020, and a potential title shot for the Invicta promotion.
If gold is not in her immediate future, a UFC call up is likely. She’s looked amazing since losing to Tracy Cortez.
Theo Christakos (11-2, Welterweight)
Australia – Christakos is an absolute savage, finishing just about everyone he’s stepped in the cage with. He has 2 fights this year, both in which saw “Hoplite” with his hand being raised. With a record like Theo’s, it’s likely that we could see him in the next season of Contender Series. Or maybe even a PFL run? Regardless, he’s on to watch in 2020 for sure.
Cory McKenna (4-1, Strawweight)
United Kingdom – “The Hobbit” had two wins in Cage Titans this year and will hope to continue that win streak in 2020. Currently ranked 3rd ranked of 147 active UK/Ireland women (P4P), McKenna is one to watch as she’s hungrier than ever. She has been able to showcase her well rounded skillset, finishing Fannie Redman and Giulia Chinello.