6 UFC prospects I can't wait to see again

This is the second time I'm writing this kind of post. The first one was posted eight months ago. And boy, what a difference those months made. Of the six prospects I listed, only one has really kept his shine and lustre.

Quick recap:

Nick Denis followed up a beautiful 22-second demolition of Joseph Sandoval with an epic choking against Roland Delorme in May. After beating the fellow Canadian for the better part of four minutes, Delorme mounted probably the biggest comeback of 2012 and submitted him with one second left. He hasn't fought since. LOST

Paul Sass went from a surprising heel hook against Michael Johnson to a jaw-dropping triangle against Jacob Volkmann in May. But his luck ran out against Matt Wiman, who not only survived the Sassangle, he armbarred the English fighter. Still, he's only 24, and has time to bounce back. LOST

Diego Brandao pulled off an amazing armbar to win TUF 14 against Dennis Bermudez, but his fight against Darren Elkins showed a serious weakness in the wrestling department. He hasn't fought since May. LOST

Khabib Nurmagomedov's UFC debut was an impressive demolition of WEC standout Kamal Shalorus. But, sadly, his followup against Gleison Tibau wasn't so convincing. Three rounds of attempts to get Tibau down failed, and some think the Brazilian got the better of the 24-year-old Russian. Still, the prospect is unbeaten at 18-0. WON

Jim Hettes flopped in what has to be the biggest upset of 2012 when he lost to Marcus Brimage recently. The fight featured Hettes mainly getting his neck snapped back and failing to take Brimage down. Given that Marcus is unranked, it didn't look too good. LOST

Erick Silva finished another fight in the first round after losing a controversial disqualification to Carlo Prater. His biggest test is coming up against wrestling blanket Jon Fitch next weekend. WON

* * *

6. Jimi Manuwa, UK


Division: Light Heavyweight
Age: 32
Disciplines: Kickboxing
Record: 12-0 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Unknown

The long-awaited debut of Nigerian-born English fighter Jimi Manuwa took place last week and it was a beatdown. Manuwa, who rebuffed previous attempts from Zuffa at being signed until he felt ready, battered veteran Kyle Kingsbury for two rounds, literally breaking his face in the process.

Manuwa possess some of the heaviest hands the UFC has ever seen, and that's saying something considering he's fighting in a weight class with a high percentage of knockouts. His style is explosive, like Hector Lombard, and his accuracy is pretty on point.

The downside is that although Manuwa has a good sprawl and brawl, he's not terribly good on the ground. Although Kingsbury wasn't able to keep him down, Kyle's not exactly known for his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A fighter like a Stephen Bonnar or a Chael Sonnen would probably make short work of Manuwa.

Still, you have to be impressed with the fact that he was under Kingsbury for a good half-round, survived several D'Arce and guillotine chokes, and did all that damage in just over two minutes.

* * *

5. Gunnar Nelson, Iceland


Division: Welterweight
Age: 24
Disciplines: Black belt in BJJ, Black belt in Karate
Record: 10-0-1 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Unknown

Iceland's "Gunny" Nelson made his UFC debut on the same night as Manuwa and it was fairly impressive. With the submission of DaMarques Johnson it made the fifth consecutive time that his opponent has failed to get out of the first round. Johnson didn't really seem to offer much resistance at all, going to the ground quickly, and losing mount and back control before the choke.

What Nelson brings to the table that Steve "Wonderboy" Thompson didn't is a superlative ground game. The 2009 BJJ Pan-American champion at middleweight brown belt, and no-gi middleweight black belt champion, Nelson knows what he's doing on the mat.

But he brings with him an elusive standup style reminiscent of what made Lyoto Machida so successful at his game. Nelson hasn't so much as faced a single moment of adversity in his MMA career, which means he's really ready for a test in his next at-bat.

It remains to be seen whether Nelson's BJJ can compete with the wrestlers notorious in the division, and if his karate will translate into some exciting knockouts.

* * *

4. Ryan Jimmo, Canada


Division: Light Heavyweight
Age: 30
Disciplines: 2nd degree Black belt in Karate
Record: 17-1 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Unknown

Canadian MFC Light Heavyweight champion Ryan Jimmo might have set a record on July 21 in Calgary when he dispatched Anthony Perosh in seven seconds on a single brutal punch. The 30-year-old is ostensibly undefeated since his MMA debut, going 17-0 with seven knockouts.

Although Jimmo made waves in his debut, he still has much to prove that he belongs at the elite of the 205-pound division. Defeating 38-year-old Anthony Perosh is the highlight of a career that owns wins over second-tier MMA fighters like Sokoudjou, Wilson Gouveia, and Rick Roufus.

He's no spring chicken, though, and with just two months left in the year he's only fought one time. Here's another peculiar statistic for you: Jimmo's never fought outside of Canada. It'll be interesting to see how he does in a hostile environment for once, if the UFC choose to do so.

It's also important to note that Perosh marked his first pure stoppage since 2008 and the first actual lights out knock out in his entire career.

* * *

3. Siyar Bahadurzada, Afghanistan


Division: Welterweight
Age: 28
Disciplines: Mixed
Record: 21-4-1 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Unknown

Few fighters have made their MMA debut by knocking out a highly ranked fighter just 42 seconds into the first round. Dutch-Afghan fighter Siyar Bahadurzada did just that against Paulo Thiago, veteran in fights against the elite of the welterweight division.

Siyar can't really be considered a prospect, given his success outside the UFC in becoming the Shooto Middleweight Champion. But he's really found his groove in recent years, going on a seven-fight, four-year unbeaten streak, with his last five fights resulting in knockout inside of the first 10 minutes.

A well-rounded fighter, his only losses came to submission specialists Kazuo Misaki and Jorge Santiago in Sengoku, and two fights early in his Dutch MMA career. Since joining the UFC, he's called out fighters like BJ Penn and was scheduled to face Erick Silva before an injury forced his replacement with Carlo Prater.

* * *

2. Michael Chiesa, United States


Division: Lightweight
Age: 24
Disciplines: Wrestling, BJJ
Record: 8-0 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Rafaello Oliveira, Dec. 8, 2012

It's not like I can't wait to see the TUF 15 winner, so much as I am dying to see whether he can continue his fluky streak of beating every single guy he's supposed to lose to. I wrote him off in every single fight he was in on the show, and he found a way to win. And when he faced Al Iaquinta I expected nothing less than a one-sided beatdown. Instead, Chiesa won in under three minutes.

Maybe there's a reason this unkempt youngster is 8-0? Maybe there's something more than skill that's important? It's almost uncanny, in that he finds ways to win even when outgunned. It might have been the motivation to win for his father, or it might just be that he has more heart than everybody else.

His next fight against Oliveira will be interesting because he really shouldn't win that one either. The Brazilian has a better ground game, and will want to be exactly where Chiesa will aim to put him. Oliveira also has a huge experience advantage.

Still, it'll be hard not to kind of root for the biggest underdog to come out of the TUF series in years.

* * *

1. Hacran Dias, Brazil


Division: Featherweight
Age: 28
Disciplines: Shooto Boxing
Record: 21-1-1 (1-0 UFC)
Next fight: Chad Mendes, Dec. 15, 2012

Hacran Dias slipped under the radar when the Brazilian fighter made his UFC debut and outpointed notoriously tough Yuri Alcantara 30-27 30-27 and 29-28 en route to his ninth consecutive victory. Under the radar, because UFC 147 in Brazil did 140,000 pay-per-view buys, the lowest the UFC has ever seen since TUF 1.

So, when Dias fights Alpha Male wrestler Chad Mendes in December on FX, a lot of people might not know where he came from. Well, Dias, much like Renan Barao, is one of these ridiculously talented Nova Uniao fighters who can seemingly do it all. Ridiculously difficult fighters to take down, you can bet this Jose Aldo teammate will be tested heavily against Chad Mendes.

While he doesn't have knockout power, Dias can strike from anywhere, has an incredible transition game, and is dangerous no matter where the fight goes. Dias' only loss came in his one fight outside Brazil, falling on the wrong side of a decision to a South Korean fighter in Seoul, South Korea. Which in and of itself is suspicious.

* * *

Honourable mention: The entire cast of TUF: Brazil. I think those fighters, much like Dias, are going to turn some heads in the UFC.

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