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 Northeastern and Midwestern fighters from the United States you should keep an eye on next year.
Fighters in the Northeastern United States
Paul Capaldo (4-0, Bantamweight)
New Jersey – Capaldo is a future bantamweight star, just you wait. Currently riding a 9-fight win streak, he went 3-0 with a finish in his latest bout coming in the third round. Paul walks out with the McGregor strut and rocks a Khabib hat, but when he’s in the cage he’s always the best version Paul Capaldo.
He should have a phenomenal 2020 if CFFC continues to promote him like they currently do.
Tom Pagliarulo (5-1, Featherweight)
Massachusetts – Pagliarulo is absolutely one to watch, and he’s the only amateur fighter we are featuring on this list. So that speaks volumes of Tom and his talents so early on in his career. Not only is he great at Boxing, he’s such a well-rounded mixed martial artists who trains with some of the best in the game.
It’s going to be interesting to see what 2020 brings for this amateur New England Cartel member, and if he decides to eventually go pro. Regardless, he claimed two championships in 2019 and another two wins to end the year.
Chris Sarro (1-0, Heavyweight)
Maine – “Golden Gloves” has been putting Maine on the map all 2019 and it only took two fights for him to get a call for a big opportunity. Known for his amateur boxing career, Sarro decided to transition to MMA and make his pro debut for New England Fights in September. His one fight earned him a nomination for the promotion’s KO of the Year and landed him a contract to debut for Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship. His KO train continued in Mississippi, when he debuted on one of the biggest cards of the year, knocking out John McAllister in 1:32 of round 1.
It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyways: Chris Sarro is a star, and a stud. You’ll likely continue to hear his name in 2020 as he climbs the ranks in BKFC.
Josh Harvey (7-0-1, Lightweight)
Maine – Harvey was only able to fight twice due to two cancelled bouts, however, the Maine prospect is making noise in the New England Fights promotion. Hoping to bump his win streak to 3 in February, Harvey is likely a name you’ll continue to hear. He’s fighting tough competition, took Joe Giannetti to a majority draw, and seems to be doing everything right for his career.
To think he’s only 25 years old, it’ll be nice to watch this lightweight blossom on the regional scene before tackling the big leagues.
Mitch Raposo (3-0, Bantamweight)
Massachusetts – Raposo went 3-0 in 2019 and looks to make it 10 wins in a row come 2020. Raposo is starting to generate hype behind him in New England and will likely continue doing so next year. We can’t wait to see how his career continues to grow and how he progress towards a potential UFC or Contender Series shot. Word on the street is he may get that shot in the upcoming season.
Kyle Daukaus (8-0, Middleweight)
Pennsylvania – Daukaus is a fighter coming off the most recent Contender Series, and although he won his fight, he did not get awarded a contract. Since the show, Kyle returned to CFFC to continue defending his middleweight championship. There he would find a D’Arce Choke to finish Stephen Regman in round 2.
Daukaus has set himself up for a successful 2020, I’m sure he’ll likely return to Contender Series or get a short notice call to the UFC.
John Gotti III (4-0, Welterweight)
New York – Mr. Gotti has been one of the most popular fighters for some time now on the New England scene. Currently 4-0 and only fighting once in 2019, the welterweight stud looks to kick of 2020 with a bang when he faces Marcos Lloreda next month.
Pat Sabatini (11-2, Pennsylvania)
Pennsylvania – Sabatini could have had a better 2019, but after his one win this year, he was cursed with consecutive cancelled bouts. Pat doesn’t shy away from solid competition either, just look at the guys he faced and their records. I’m sure 2020 is the year for Pat though, as he is the reigning CFFC featherweight champion.
With Contender Series around the corner, look for Sabatini’s name to be announced.
Jay Perrin (8-4, Bantamweight)
Massachusetts – This New England stud should have a killer 2020 after a Contender Series fight that didn’t go his way. Luckily for Perrin, most fight fans agreed he should have gotten the nod, including Dana White himself. Perrin has not been able to return since, however, he has locked in a fight for Cage Titans in early 2020.
Watch out for Perrin, one or two wins could land him in the UFC or second shot on Contender Series. It’s only right they make it up to him.
Erin Blanchfield (4-1, Flyweight)
New York – “Cold Blooded” bounced back after tasting defeat for the first time under Invicta’s banner, she beat Gabriella Gulfin via Americana in round 1. Blanchfield is a talented flyweight and one of the few with winning records representing women in the Northeast.
2020 will likely be a killer year for Erin, maybe a return to Invicta early next year will help catapult her into a Contender Series opportunity. Or she could even hone her skills with Bellator’s flyweight division.
Fighters in the Midwestern United States
Mark Lemminger (10-1, Welterweight)
Wisconsin – Lemminger is a Wisconsin prospect fighting out of Chosen Few Gym. He’s 26 with a 10-1 record, likely knocking on the door of the upper echelon promotions. Although he’s only fought twice this year, his record is rather impressive, including his amateur fights.
Look out for Mark on the regional scene in 2020, if he continues to rack up wins, I’m sure he’ll get a similar shot on Contender Series like his training partner Alex Gilpin did.
Kenny Cross (9-3, Lightweight)
Michigan – Cross is one impressive guy and one that you’ll eventually fall in love with too. There’s something about him, maybe it’s his personality or the way he promotes his fights, whatever it is know that he’s a star on the rise. Cross is coming off an impressive finish over Jonas Flok at Lights Out Championship 6.
After bouncing back from a loss early in the year, Cross is destined for a killer 2020. His larger-than-life personality, swagger, and talent could potentially land him a Contender Series opportunity next season.
Mando Gutierrez (3-0, Bantamweight)
Michigan – Mando made big strides in 2019, it’s going to be great to see how 2020 pans out for the 3-0 featherweight fighting out of Murcielago MMA. “El Toro” made his pro debut in 2019, after a successful undefeated amateur career. He told The Scrap in a recent interview that he plans to stay active with consecutive quick turnaround fights.
Aside from his quick finishes, Mando has star quality and he’ll continue to make noise while fighting for Lights Out and Total Warrior Combat.
Cody Brundage (4-0, Middleweight)
Michigan – Brundage is coming off a crazy win at Lights Out Championship, where he claimed the middleweight title via unanimous decision. The new champ fought five times in 2019, one of those being his last amateur fight. This man wants to fight and loves to do it often, which is admirable when looking at fighters on the regional scene.
2020 should be good to Brundage who is getting in good rounds with solid competition currently.
Askar Askar (10-0, Bantamweight)
Illinois – Askar is a name going rather unnoticed on our site, however, he has been terrorizing bantamweight divisions in organizations like Titan FC, LFA, Island Fights, and Hossier FC. There’s no way he continues to go unnoticed in 2020 with Contender Series just around the corner. He’s undefeated and 6 out of his 10 fights are finishes. He can go the distance and he only wants to fight the best.
We love to see hungry prospects at The Scrap and Askar is one of them to keep and eye out for.