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Stars On The Rise: MMA’s Brightest Prospects

By Jeff Comstock | October 4, 2007

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By Jeff Comstock

In the first in which I expect to be a series of articles, I’d like to take a look at mixed martial arts fighters on the verge of becoming MMA stars. Hardcore fans will be familiar with many of these fighters already and casual fans can expect to see these fighters headlining a card near them soon.

I’ve picked 5 fighters to start this article series who have all recently displayed superior skills in the ring or cage and who I believe have the ability to be world class, top ranked fighters.

I’d love some reader feedback on fighters that you believe are on the cusp of doing great things. Who would you like to see profiled here? Are my first five picks valid, and if you don’t think so, why not?

So without further ado, here’s five for fighting:

1) Jorge MasvidalJorge Masvidal

Nickname: Gamebred

DOB: November 12, 1984

Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)

Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)

Record: 12 – 2 – 0

Country: USA

Association: American Top Team

Fighting Style: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Boxing

Anyone who saw Jorge Masvidal’s recent KO victory over Yves Edwards by head kick on BodogFight’s July 14th event in New Jersey knew that a new star had been born. That kick punctuated a 3 fight winning run in the Bodog promotion. Then a trip to the Playboy Mansion on September 29th courtesy of Strikeforce saw Masvidal dispatch opponent Matt Lee in only 93 seconds with strikes.

Masvidal had made a name for himself locally in Miami after participating in boxing street fights that became popular on the internet. The videos features him competing against Kimbo Slice prodigy “Ray”. Jorge comes into the fight as the smaller man, with a weight and height disadvantage, but thoroughly picks apart his bigger opponent with lightning fast combinations and body shots that finish Ray.

Jorge Masvidal’s first high profile MMA victory came in the main event of the Absolute Fighting Championships XXII event held on April 30th, 2005. The fight was against current UFC competitor and The Ultimate Fighter 5 contestant Joe Lauzon, who came in undefeated at eight wins and no losses with all eight wins by way of submission. Jorge won via Technical Knock Out in the second round with a flurry of punches.

In interviews Masvidal has stated that he wants to be a world mixed martial arts champion by the time he turns 24 and the biggest name in sports by age 26. For Masvidal things seem to going according to plan.

2) Dong Hyun KimDong Hyun Kim

Nickname: Die Hard

DOB: 1982

Height: 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)

Weight: 167 lbs (76 kg)

Record: 8 – 0 – 0

Country: Korea

Association: CMA Korea

Fighting Style: Freestyle

There are very few athletes in MMA that can say that they have never lost in professional competition. Dong Hyun Kim is undefeated as an MMA fighter as well as submission grappling tournaments. The ultra-talented Korean fighter has accomplished this feet through a combination of superior physicality and an ever improving set of martial arts skills.

The long and strong southpaw imposes superior strength and reach versus many opponents. Kim often uses a crowd pleasing, sprawl and brawl style which has resulted in 5 straight KO victories in the DEEP promotion in Japan.

Not all is perfect in the 25 year olds career however. Dong Hyun Kim’s proudest moment was when he signed a contract with Pride FC. A few weeks later the Pride organization was purchased and eventually folded, leaving the fighter in contractual limbo. Then in his first main event fight versus DEEP welterweight champion Hidehiko Hasegawa at DEEP 31st Impact, a fight in which he destroyed the champion, scoring a 3rd round TKO, the champion’s belt was not on the line.

Things are looking up for Kim though. A rematch with Hasegawa with the title on the line this time has been scheduled for DEEP’s 32nd Impact on October 9th. Recent developments with Korean promotion Spirit MC partnering with American promoter Pro Elite could open the door to international exposure for the fighter should he chose to look to expand his horizons. Whatever he chooses, Dong Hyun Kim may soon become one of the most sought after fighters as promotions look to further cultivate their fan base in Korea.

3) Yoshiyuki YoshidaYoshiyuki Yoshida

Nickname: Yoshi Yoshi

Height: 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)

Weight: 167 lbs (76 kg)

Record: 8 – 2 – 0

Country: Japan

Association: Tokyo Yellow Mans

Fighting Style: Judo, Boxing

Relatively unheralded coming out of Shooto with a 2-2 record, the Noboru Asahi trained Yoshiyuki Yoshida moved away from Shooto competition and eventually landed in Japan’s only cage fighting organization, promoted by Greatest Common Multiple.

The former Shooto competitor won his first two bouts in the cage and was invited to participate in the Cage Force welterweight tournament sponsored by the newly formed World Wide Cage Network. Yoshida entered as a decided underdog against his first round opponent, two-time interim Pancrase champion Katsuya Inoue. After some tentative stand-up, Yoshida put on a vicious display of dirty boxing, knocking out the Pancrase star, less than 2 minutes into the bout.

Yoshida’s next opponent was Warrior’s Realm welterweight champion Matt Cain from Australia. It only took 3 minutes for the Australian to succumb to Yoshida’s punches, securing him a birth to the tournament semi-final.

At Cage Force 4 Yoshiyuki Yoshida would face the greatest challenge of his career in his semi-final bout versus the former Shooto champion Akira Kikuchi, long considered one of Japan’s most dangerous grapplers. Kikuchi, fighting out of the Killer Bee dojo was the odds on favorite to win the tournament. Surviving a barrage of punches after being mounted, Yoshida wisely used the fence to return the bout to the standing position. Kikuchi again attempted to take the bout to the mat and in the scramble ended up on Yoshida’s back in the standing position. Yoshida managed to throw Kikuchi off and proceeded to assault Kikuchi, who he had pinned against the fence. His experience under the “unified rules” of MMA as practiced in Cage Force were evident as he forced the referee to stop the fight due to the vicious barrage of bloody elbows Yoshida threw from side control.

Yoshiyuki Yoshida is now preparing for the tournament final on December 1st where he will face Dan Hardy. Should he win that fight it is the WWCN’s hope that they can help secure UFC contracts for the tournament winners. Stay tuned, Yoshiyuki may be coming to an octagon near you.

4) Andre GusmaoAndre Gusmao

DOB: May 19, 1977

Height: 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)

Weight: 205 lbs (93 kg)

Record: 5 – 0 – 0

Country: Brazil

Association: Renzo Gracie

Fighting Style: Capoeira, BJJ

The secret weapon was how Andre Gusmao was described when called in as a replacement for Renzo Gracie’s Pitbulls in the International Fight League. Hailing from Goiania, Brazil, Andre Gusmao has lived and worked as a capoeira teacher in New York for seven years, leaving behind life as law student in his homeland. In New York he came under the tutelage of Renzo Gracie, earning his brown belt in BJJ.

From relative obscurity Gusmao has taken the IFL by storm, culminating with a well placed right knee by Andre that made the New York Pitbulls IFL champions. The 53 second knockout over Mike Ciesnolevicz earned his team a 3-2 victory over the defending champion Quad City Silverbacks in the IFL Championship Finals.

Gusmao’s victory also thrust him into the IFL Grand Prix Tournament. The same knee strike which won him a championship ring, broke the nose of opponent Ciesnolevicz, whose place he will now take in the tournament.

Some would call this karma, good or bad will be decided by what happens next. As the fourth seed in the light heavyweight division, Gusmao will be fighting Vladimir Matyushenko. The Tokyo Sabres light heavyweight has destroyed all IFL competition he has faced thus far with his superior wrestling skills. The Grand Prix opening round on November 3rd will definitely be Gusmao’s greatest test in his MMA career. Should he prevail over the veteran Russian fighter and advance to the Grand Prix finals, Gusmao will easily win my imaginary award for “best performance by a late replacement fighter” in 2007.

Whatever his fate in the Grand Prix, Andre Gusmao’s unorthodox capoeira stand-up skills and BJJ credentials should keep him a fan favorite and a fighter to watch for a long time.

5) Muhsin CorbbreyMuhsin Corbbrey

DOB: May 18, 1978

Height: 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)

Weight: 155 lbs (70 kg)

Record: 5 – 2 – 0

Country: USA

Association:Champion Training Center

Fighting Style: Freestyle

Muhsin Corbbrey seems to have taken a long and winding path to MMA recognition. He’s competed and excelled at various martial arts including winning multiple tournaments such as the ISCF Submission Grappling tournament in 2002 and the World Shidokan Open in 2005. He’s a professional boxer with a 4-2-1 record and has trained with the likes of Manu Ntoh, Lloyd Irvin, and Din Thomas.

Corbbrey, who owns Champion Training Center in South Carolina signed a contract with Pro Elite after failing in a tryout for The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show. He made his debut with the promotion on their first SHOXC card live on Showtime versus rugged fighter Lee Gibson. Corbbrey won via unanimous decision, displaying both skill and athleticism while introducing himself to the MMA world as a force to be reckoned with. Muhsin’s next fight is planned for the October 26th SHOXC card where he will face the undefeated 7-0 Bobby McMasters.

The 29-year-old Corbbrey seems to have all the tools necessary to excel at MMA’s highest levels. He’s a cerebral fighter, has superior boxing skills with fast hands and good footwork. While his first televised fight didn’t go to the mat, Corbbrey has grappling credentials that would make one assume that he can fight on the ground as well. I look forward to seeing his next fight later this month. A win would put him in position to fight on a main Elite XC card and face some top opposition.

Topics: Jeff Comstock | 22 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

22 Responses to “Stars On The Rise: MMA’s Brightest Prospects”

  1. JOSH says:

    Like the article, here are a few people I think should be in future articles:

    Deividas Taurosevicius- competing for ur imaginary award of: “best performance by a late replacement fighter” in 2007.

    Chase Beebe- amazing current BW champ in WEC

    Brian Stann- Poster boy Marine of WEC

    Matt Fiordirosa- Unknown Team Curran FW fighter who should eaisly be picked up by a major fed.

  2. Rollo the Cat says:

    I second Taurosevicius.

    Masvidal looks to be headed for a fight with Eddie Alvarez in Bodog. Not sure at what weight though.

  3. John says:

    Thiago Tavares!

  4. Jordan Breen says:

    I think due to the nature of MMA, the lines between prospect and contender and whatnot can get blurry. Beebe has tons of upside ,but he’s already a top ten guy in his weight class. He may have a great prospective future, but does it make him a prospect still?

    Also, I’d say the first four are definitively ahead of Corbbrey. Fiordirosa, who JOSH mentioned, would be a guy ideally beyond there. Taurosevicius too if he qualifies for prospectitude.

  5. Ian Dean says:

    Good article…But i’m confident Dan Hardy will beat Yoshida. Hardy has Cage experience (which Inoue and Kikuchi did not have) and he has some razor sharp stand-up skills, punishing ground and pound and is working on his ground game all the time. He’s twice the fighter he was 12 months ago and although Yoshida may have a size advantage, i don’t think he will maul Hardy inside the Cage like he did with the others.

    Should be a great fight though

  6. Jeremy says:

    Very happy Yoshida was on your list as I think he is very deserving of his prospectitude as Breen put it. I watched his fight with Kikuchi and came away very impressed with how comfortable he was in the cage and how well he used the unified rules to win the fight. Can’t wait for his bout with Hardy.

    I’d add Jose Aldo, Roger Hollett, and Hiroyuki Takaya perhaps to the list.

  7. James says:

    Short and concise articles like this are awesome… Jeff Comstock you did your research and your right on! Not like other writers that just rambles on and on and talks a lot of MMA on there article just to show that there knowledgeable is nonsense.

    Continue on articles like this and I’ll always be back to read it.

  8. Jordan Breen says:

    “I’d add Jose Aldo, Roger Hollett, and Hiroyuki Takaya perhaps to the list.”

    Aldo and Hollett I can see, but Takaya has been a pro for like five years now, and was previously was like a borderline Top 5 guy at 143 after the Roque and Palling fights, so I can’t buy that.

    Aldo needs to get better management. It’s a shame how many talented fighters Andre Pederneiras can produce, but how poorly he manages them all. At 145, Aldo can be a perenial top ten guy. And he’s only like 21 years old or some shit.

  9. Jordan Breen says:

    Oh, and, just for reference, Kim Dong Hyun’s real record, counting all his ghetto MMA fights in Korea, is like 13-0 or 14-0.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Haha, nice Breen. I can’t even sneak in a favorite of mine just for the heck of it :).

    Is it similar for all the Nova Uniao fighters as it is for Aldo management wise? Must say I know nothing about how fighters are managed.

  11. m.d. says:

    Artur Oumakhanov
    Un Sik Song
    Kazunori Yokota
    Jared Hamman
    Andre Dida
    Chris Tuchscherer, if he ever fights
    Chase Gormley

    and the new wrestlers

    Kellan Flukinger
    Jake Rosholt
    Eric Bradley
    Mark Munoz
    Cain Velasquez

    Also, some well-known guys are still technically prospects, and good ones:

    Gray Maynard
    maybe even Donald Cerrone of TapouT fame

  12. Jeff Comstock says:

    Wow, tons of great feedback! Many great suggestions, some of whom I considered for this inaugural article.

    Thanks to all who commented. I’ll be sure to consider your recommendations for part two of this series.

    Ian, I know you’re biased, but I agree that the fight between Yoshida and Hardy will be a treat for the fans. I hope the winner moves on to fight in the UFC as they will have easily been through a tournament as hard as any TUF competition.

    Jordan, I realize that many of the fighter’s records are not accurate. Corbbrey claims 9 or 10 victories and I’m sure others have unrecroded fights as well. I used the Sherdog Fight Finder stats for the sake of time and consistency.

    Thanks again everyone.

  13. Jordan Breen says:

    “Un Sik Song
    Kazunori Yokota
    Jared Hamman”

    A few thoughts and things…

    Song actually just began his manadatory period of military service. That shit is seriously going to cripple South Korean MMA, unless somehow the sport gets massive and athletes are able to get celebrity-type exemptions the way film stars do.

    Yokota, as an aside, just got to go to some wild Muay Thai camp which culled guys from sixteen countries to go train at some special facility in Thailand or something. I am interested to see him fight again under MMA rules.

    I am really not high on Jared Hamman personally. And I don’t want to sound like I’m calling you out, I only want to ask if you’ve seen him fight, and if so, what it is that impresses you about him. He’s obviously got power in the stand-up, but even then his stand-up isn’t great, and his takedown defense is miserable. He pretty much ends up on his ass in every fight against a bunch of no-namers. Obviously, there’s huge room for improvement, but I just don’t really see anything special in him.

  14. Jordan Breen says:

    “Jordan, I realize that many of the fighter’s records are not accurate. Corbbrey claims 9 or 10 victories and I’m sure others have unrecroded fights as well. I used the Sherdog Fight Finder stats for the sake of time and consistency.”

    Oh, I didn’t mean to come off like that. I was just pointing it out as a trivia/knowedge sorta deal.

  15. Jeff Comstock says:

    The good thing about MMA fighter records is that I heard that there was a bid process underway by the Association of Boxing Commissions to have an official Fighter database.

    Sherdog’s Fight Finder and similar databases are great tools , but it will be nice when results have to be submitted by law for fighters who want to fight in sanctioned events.

    I’m sure Sherdog will be a front runner to score the contract if they are so inclined.

  16. Jordan Breen says:

    Yeah, the problem is that even with boxing, there’s always record fiascos. Always with dudes from the Philippines and Indonesia and shit. A guy’s boxrec record will be like, 15-6, and he’ll go fight for abroad, and he’ll be announced at like 22-7 or some shit. Actually, there was a semi-scandal when Daiki Kameda fought a Filipino who had almost no documented fights and yet he was billed as having a considerable amount of experience.

    Moreover, with “amateur” and “semi-pro” foolishness, tabulating records gets even harder.

    On an interested and semirelated note, Boutreview and Fight Spiral in Japan just teamed up to try to work together more comprehensively. Fight spiral is like a Japanese FightFinder. It is woefully, woefully incomplete in regards to international MMA, but it has even the most unthinkable, ghetto Japanese MMA.

  17. Ian Dean says:

    “Ian, I know you’re biased”

    What gave it away? 😀

    I am really excited about the fight and at some of the signing and fights Cage Force are putting on

    As for fight finder, i’m all in favour of a body overseeing results. here in the UK, attitudes towards recording results are laughable. A lot of fly-by-nighters in the UK do not know or care about recording results and a lot of fighters arguing that “records are for DJ’s” and that their record does not matter.

    It is very frustrating but not unexpected of a unprofessional and sometimes farcical UK MMA scene.

  18. john blanken says:

    Thank’s for the props Jeff! I am muhsin corbbrey’s boxing and striking coach. This young man’s natural ability is phenominal. He has a great work ethic, and is is improving every minute. This is a hungry fighter.

  19. Jeff Comstock says:

    Thanks for stopping by and reading John. Let Muhsin know I will be looking forward to his upcoming bout.

  20. […] would be much appreciated. At least one or two fighters mentioned in the comments section of the first article in this series was chosen for this […]

  21. Chris says:

    only two fighters in the game straight up anderson silva and GSP try and talk shit bout that

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