MMA Shark, The MMA Shark,
Kanako Murata

On The Come Up: Top 5 Prospects Fighting This Weekend (June 6-8)

Following a weekend in which bloodthirsty fight fans got their UFC fix back on the heels of a weekend off, the dog days of summer feel as though they’re starting to creep up on us faster and faster. We could sit here all day and talk about all of the magnificent things that come with the Summer portion of the calendar year, and for fans of MMA it’s A time frame in which things will begin to literally heat up outside, as well as inside the octagon, Cage, ring, etc.

All eyes undoubtedly shift focus to the Windy City on Saturday, as the world MMA leader will put on an event at UFC 238, that is as stacked pound-for-pound as any other fight card will be this year. However, if that isn’t enough to give you that respective fix only a combat sports fan could understand, fear not as major regional shows will be taking place between Thursday and Saturday as well.

Putting on events of their own this weekend are the likes of LFA on their normal Thursday evening time slot, followed by Invicta FC & LFA cards on Friday, before Saturday morning here in the states the ACA will get rolling with a fun event of their own in Poland. If your focus this weekend is solely on UFC 238, I can promise you that you are not the only one.

However, if that is not enough for one’s bloodthirsty heart to take in, Shawn Bitter (who else) and I below give you a list of a few other notable talented fighters that could see them selves in the UFC very soon. Here’s the fourth volume of Shawn Bitter and I’s weekend prospect preview series, On The Come Up.

5. Women’s Atomweight: Alesha Zappitella (5-0) vs. Viviane Pereira – Invicta FC 35

What makes my job of persuading you to watch a certain fighter even easier, is to remind you that the weight class in which the corresponding fighter that kicks off our list fights in, is not even an open weigh class in the UFC, let alone what I would guess to be over 95% of the world’s MMA promotions period. Watching atomweights is like watching straw weight on fast forward on DVR. If you thought strawweights were fast, wait until you get a load at how quick the girls at 105 are.

In the co-main event of Invicta FC 35, one of the all-female feeder promotion’s best kept secrets will stand across the cage from her biggest test to date. The secret? The Ypsilanti product Ashley Zappitella, who could very well see herself as an potential title challenger-to be up next if she is able to get by four-fight UFC veteran Viviane Pereira. Zappitella is clearly one of Invicta‘s most highly-thought of atomweights, as her grappling chops have mostly been what’s helped her ultimately get her hand raised at the end of the fights she has won.

4. Heavyweight: Denis Goltsov (22-5) vs. Jared Rosholt – PFL 2019 3

Goltsov has beaten a string of well-known fighters in James McSweeney, Chase Gormley, Peter Graham, Brett Rogers, Konstantin Erokhin, Mike Kyle, and Paul Buentello and more. Goltsov has the laid-back style where he can work a precise and impactful jab for as long as he pleases, but then he can switch it up and launch a head kick out of nowhere. Goltsov is a multiple-time Combat Sambo champion and placed first at the Euros. Goltsov is a developing product and is only getting better and better. He’s arguably the best heavyweight prospect out there. He fights former UFC fighter Jared Rosholt (17-6), who despite his boring style is a good test for anyone.

3. Women’s Strawweight: Kanako Murata (9-1) vs. Liana Pirosin – Invicta FC 35

Sticking around with the fine as well as friendly women of Invicta FC, this particular entry on Japan’s Kanako Murata comes up a weight class at 115 pounds. One would logically assume that given the division’s recent exile at the top, Murata is certainly at the forefront of Invicta’s title queue for the 115 pounders. With the most recent addition to the ever growing sample size that represent former Invicta champs one day becoming UFC fighters. All that opens up is that very spot as Invicta champion, which is damn near the closest thing to having the UFC contract in your hands. A win for Murata would completely leave her as the clear-cut choice for at least 1/2 of a vacant strawweight title fight for the promotion going forward. Victory will not come easy for Morata however, as she takes on the always tough Brazilian Liana Pirosin, who boasts a 7-2 record as a pro.

2. Heavyweight: Evgeny Goncharov (13-2) vs. Tony Johnson Jr. – ACA 96 (for the vacant ACA Heavyweight championship)

Evgeny Goncharov is another solid heavyweight prospect out of Russia. On the feet, he does have some power, but on the mat is where he wants to be. Goncharov is an excellent wrestler who will get the body lock and get huge power takedowns, showing how strong he is. On top, he has some slick grappling for a big guy, but his ground-and-pound is his best aspect where he throws at a high rate and can do that all fight. He fights Tony Johnson (13-4-1), who is a veteran who has fought though competition.

1. Light Heavyweight: Rashid Yusupov (10-1) vs. Mikhail Mokhnatkin – PFL 2019 3

Coming in to the inaugural season of the PFL, you could have made a very compelling case for Rashid Yusupov as having one of, if not the best individual chance a fighter had across any weight class to win their respective divisional tournament. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with that, as there are a lot of very talented fighters across several divisions in the UFC.

However, sharing that sentiment with I were a number of other MMA media outlets, who, while I won’t mention specifically just who those websites were , I can say there was More than one of them that agreed upon Yusupov’s eventual triumph.

However, this is fighting, where practically nothing comes out the way most expected it to. And while he wasn’t knocked out, or out classed on the ground, or caught in a submission, Yusupov and clearly and visibly suffered a plethora of damage, including the fight-ending diagnosis of a broken jaw. Obviously as a result, Yusupov’s PFL campaign was cut abruptly short, and his ability to continue to fight omits the timeframe he originally thought he would had now vanished.

Now, all healed up and ready to go, the former M-1 Global 205 pound champion looks to get back to his, not even winning ways, his dominating ways. Yusupov before suffering the broken jaw in his only PFL fight last year, had a perfect 10-0 pro record, with 7 of those 10 wins coming by the final bell. He takes on Mikhail Mokhnatkin tonight at PFL 3 in Long Island.

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