Heading into 2017, the future is bright for WSOF’s growing talent pool. Beyond some of MMA’s biggest names, the Decagon is home to blue-chip prospects across a number of divisions.
Patrick Wyman and Scott Harris have put together another installment of Bleacher Report’s Top 25 MMA Prospects for 2017. Evidence of the level of talent found inside the Decagon, three WSOF made the list, including one inside the top five.
Featherweight Andre Harrison
Coming off a successful WSOF debut at WSOFNYC, Andre Harrison came in at No. 15. Here’s an excerpt of what Harris and Wyman had to say about the former Titan FC champion.
All Andre Harrison did in 2016 was turn in a 4-0 record that saw him clean out the Titan FC featherweight roster, relinquish his belt there and enter WSOF, where he won his debut. As such, he’s a notch above where he was last year on this list.
Harrison is still a control-wrestling monster, but to co-opt an old Greg Maddux nugget, chicks dig the long ball. And with that realization came a more aggressive approach on the feet and a generally more intense quest for finishes. He earned two in 2016, although one came when opponent Deivison Ribeiro sustained a freak, Anderson Silva-esque (though not that bad) leg fracture when Harrison checked a leg kick.(via B/R)
A pair of WSOF athletes made part two of the prestigious list.
Featherweight Hakeem Dawodu
Coming in at No. 12 is Canadian featherweight Hakeem Dawodu. Dawodu has proven to be one of the most exciting fighters on the WSOF roster and is a must watch anytime the cage door closes. Dawodu was only able to compete once in 2016 but fought three times in 2015. If he can maintain an active schedule, Dawadu has a bright future ahead of him inside the Decagon.
Athleticism, power, killer instinct melded with a hefty dose of technical striking skill define Dawodu’s game. He’s aggressive and gets after his opponent, but he’s not a brawler; Dawodu throws crisp, clean punch-kick combinations with great fundamentals and real heat. His kicks carry crushing force and every punch can finish the fight.
As good as he is at range, Dawodu is even better in the clinch. His knees are truly vicious and he slashes away with elbows, mixing in the occasional Thai-style trip or dump for good measure. His wrestling game is developing, and while he still relies heavily on his physicality, the skills are coming along nicely as well. His ground strikes carry all the power he showcases on the feet as well.(via B/R)
Welterweight Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Topping off the WSOF competitors on the list is Abubakar Nurmagomedov. The surging welterweight contender is ranked as the No. 3 top prospect for 2017. Nurmagomedov picked up two victories in 2016, including a dominant decision win against MMA veteran John Howard at WSOF33.
Nurmagomedov isn’t his cousin; he lacks Khabib’s top-shelf athletic gifts and raw power, along with his preternatural ability on the mat. On the other hand, he’s a much more measured and crisp striker, flicking a sharp jab and hard punching combinations as he comes forward. His footwork in particular is excellent.
In other ways, he fights very much like Khabib. He’s aggressive, but not foolishly so, and does an excellent job of cutting off the cage and forcing his opponent to the fence.
Once he gets his hands on his opponent, Abubakar is stifling. He puts together the same kinds of creative and seemingly endless chains of takedowns, blending trips, throws, shots and everything else into a seamless whole. There’s no escape, and the only real question is how much time and energy the opponent will burn before he ends up on the floor.
Nurmagomedov is a handful on the mat, too. He likes to let his opponent move underneath him more than a traditional top-control specialist, but nevertheless maintains effortless control as he hammers away with hard ground strikes. When the moment is right, he passes into a dominant position and bombs away. He’s not as violent as Khabib, nor is he as accomplished a submission artist, but he’s still a top-shelf grappler. (via B/R)
For the complete breakdown of the WSOF athletes, be sure to check out the full listing by Harris and Wyman. Fans can certainly expect big things from this impressive trio inside the Decagon in 2017.