As we crack open a new decade with the coming of 2010, there’s no better time than right now to take a close look at the cream of the crop talent that is poised to make a significant impact on the landscape of mixed martial arts in the years to follow.
Come along as FiveOuncesofPain.com gives you dozens, upon dozens of reasons to get excited about the future of this passion driven sport we have come to understand and love.
So make sure to etch these names in your head and don’t say we didn’t tell you so.
Ben Askren: A twenty-five year old welterweight, Askren was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion along with being a 2008 Olympian. “Funky” is currently 3-0 during his professional stint in MMA while currently poised to wreak havoc on the 2010 edition of Bellator’s 170 pound tournament.
Luke Rockhold: Sporting a 6-1 record and training out of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California, Rockhold has won his last five straight while showing the type of potential that demands attention. Rockhold absolutely blew through a pair of experienced fighters in Cory Devela and Jesse Taylor in his last two outings and is currently slated to face off with fellow rising prospect Paul Bradley during “Strikeforce: Prangley vs. Amoussou”.
Cole Konrad: Konrad is a two-time NCAA champion wrestler out of Minnesota at 285 pounds along with being a 2008 Pan-American Games gold medalist. Cole is one of Brock Lesnar’s personal training partners and recently came out victorious in his MMA debut, winning the bout in the first round via “polar bear choke”.
Evan Dunham: With an undefeated record of 10-0, this Xtreme Couture trained lightweight has put together a series of victories over the likes of Per Eklund, Marcus Aurelio and Efrain Escudero during his time with the UFC. Evan is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a strong wrestler and an extremely capable striker.
Tim Kennedy: While thirteen professional fights in mixed martial arts may indicate that Kennedy should not be considered a prospect any longer, the revitalized career of this real American hero really began two fights ago with his second round pulverizing of Nick Thompson and a recent stoppage of the previously undefeated Zak Cummings. Kennedy is the total package. A big league banger with a strong wrestling and submission skill set to match.
Phil Davis: A 2008 NCAA wrestling champion at 197 pounds, Davis is only four fights into his MMA carer and already set to make his UFC debut against the battle tested Brian Stann. Phil’s wrestling is of the highest pedigree and possesses the type of raw striking talent which has recently been fine tuned by Brandon Vera that promises to carry the Penn State alumni far at 205 pounds.
Alexander Gustafsson: 9-0 with only one of his victims managing to make it to the final bell, the 6’5″ Gustafsson has earned himself as a light heavyweight knockout artist with 7 of his 9 wins coming by either KO or TKO. “The Mauler” from Sweden recently made his UFC debut count as he leveled Jared Hamman with a series of punches in the opening round of their meeting at UFC 105.
Shane Del Rosario: When you talk about a World Muay Thai champion that’s going around pulling high level omoplatas out of his hat in the world of mixed martial arts, you’re talking about a seriously dangerous man. Del Rosario currently boasts an undefeated record of 9-0 with not a single one of his bouts making it to the judges.
Goran Reljic: Having spent a large majority of his career with the Gracie Barra UK Academy, this 6’3″ Croatian submission specialist sports an undefeated record of 9-0, and recently made the trip to Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas to prepare with Neil Melanson for his UFC 110 clash with C.B. Dollaway. Although known for his savvy on the canvas, Goran finished Wilson Gouveia via TKO in his UFC debut back in May of 2008.
Ryan Bader: Much like Jon Jones and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, “Darth” Bader teeters on the brink of being a rising prospect or legitimate contender to the championship. With an untarnished record of 10-0, extremely heavy hands and a decorated wrestling background, Ryan could clearly establish himself as a force to be reckoned with in the UFC with a convincing win over Keith Jardine at UFC 110.
*Volume II is on it’s way and Volume III will follow shortly after.