Bellator MMA is widely considered the number two mixed martial arts promotion in the United States and has grown a reputation for finding new and undiscovered talent.
It was not that long ago that the names of Michael Chandler, Pat Curran, Daniel Straus, Ben Askren, and Eduardo Dantas were not household names.
All of those fighters are now considered top 10-15 fighters in the world, but they were unknown prospects when Bellator signed them to long term promotional contracts.
While fans look at Bellator as a place now where former UFC fighters go to fight, the organization is still developing talent. TheMMAReport.com has put together a list of fighters of the top prospects in Bellator, that have not been placed into a tournament at this time.
Goiti Yamauchi (15-1)
At 20 years old, Yamauchi is the definition of a prospect. Prior to signing with Bellator, he was already on peoples short list as a fighter to watch in the next year or two. After winning 14 of his first 15 fights, Bellator offered him a contract and he made his debut against Musa Tolliver at Bellator 99.
He would only need 61 seconds to secure his 12th career win by submission, and it was his third straight win by submission. Out of his 12 career submission victories, 9 of them have come by rear-naked choke, including his win in his Bellator debut.
He will return to the Bellator cage on Friday night at Bellator 108 in Atlantic City and face Saul Almeida. If he is able to get an impressive victory against Almeida, a potential tournament spot could be waiting for him in 2014.
Bubba Jenkins (4-1)
After signing with Bellator, Jenkins made his debut with the organization at Bellator 97 and scored a second round TKO victory. He would have a quick turnaround but suffered his first career defeat when LaRue Burley defeated him in the third round by TKO.
While Bellator’s plan has always been to take it slow with Jenkins, the defeat likely ruined any chance of Jenkins being rushed into a future Bellator lightweight tournament. He will return to action next week at Bellator 109 when he meets Terrell Hobbs on the preliminary card.
His fight next week will mark his third fight in Bellator since the end of July and could end up being placed in a tournament in either late 2014 or earlier 2015 as long as their are no setbacks.
Brent Primus (3-0)
The Sports Lab in Oregon is becoming one of the gyms in the United States to look for up and coming talent, and that is where Bellator found Primus. After winning his first two professional fights by submission in the first round, the talent development team with Bellator went to Portland to look at him.
After liking what they say, Primus was signed by Bellator and made his debut with the organziation in September. Once again, he won by submission in the first round as he defeated Scott Thometz by rear-naked choke submission. All of his wins have come by rear-naked choke and he has a total cage time of less than seven minutes in his career.
He will make his next appearance inside the Bellator cage next week at Bellator 109 and he meets fellow undefeated fighter Brett Glass. If he is able to get another first round submission victory, he may be hard for Bellator to not speed up his development and place him into a future lightweight tournament.
Michael Page (5-0)
Page is one of the most exciting international prospects in mixed martial arts currently. He is know for his striking ability as all of his victories have come in the first round with four of them coming by knockout.
His Bellator debut came back in March and if you blinked, you may have missed the finish live. He only needed 10 seconds to knockout his opponent and it was his first win to come in the first minute of the fight. Since his debut in Bellator, he took a fight outside of the organization and earned his first submission victory as he used a rear-naked choke to defeat Ramdan Mohamed at Super Fight League 15.
He was scheduled to fight on two different fight cards during the current season of Bellator, but injuries pulled him out of both fights. It’s unknown if the injuries are related and when his next fight in Bellator will take place.
Liam McGeary (5-0)
Originally out of England, McGeary trains in the United States and has made an immediate impact on the Bellator preliminary cards. He was signed by Bellator after opening his career with three straight victories and his debut with Bellator came at Bellator 95 in April.
His debut would last less than 90 seconds as he defeated Anton Talamantes by TKO at the 1:18 mark of the opening round. He returned to action five months later and needed less than 30 seconds to defeat Beau Tribolet by TKO. His last three victories have come by TKO after he won his first two fights of his career by submission.
His Bellator debut came at Revel Casino and that is where he will be fighting on Friday night as he meets Najim Wali on the preliminary card. With Bellator’s light heavyweight division not having much depth, it may just be a matter of time before McGeary is placed into a tournament.
Mike Mucitelli (6-0, 1NC)
Mucitelli is another light heavyweight prospect that Bellator has been developing as they signed him last year. He has already had five fights in the organization and three of those fights have ended in the first round by knockout.
Following his no contest against Jeff Nader at Bellator 98, he returned last week and defeated Ryan McCurdy by unanimous decision at Bellator 107. It was the first time in his career that he made it out of the first round and cardio appeared to be an issue for him.
While he did get the victory last week, it was not a victory that could place him into the next light heavyweight tournament. He is going to need to get at least one more win before the Bellator executives place him into a potential 4 or 8 man tournament.
Raphael Butler (8-0)
In many people minds, heavyweight is the weakest division in Bellator and the organization has made moves over the past year to make the division deeper. One of those moves was signing Butler. He is a former professional boxer and made the transition to mixed martial arts in 2010.
After opening with five victories, he was signed by Bellator and made his debut in June. He needed a little more than two minutes to get a victory in his debut and has followed up that victory with two more knockout victories in the first round. His most recent fight came last week when he defeated Josh Burns by verbal submission due to strikes.
In his eight fights, he has only made it out of the first round once. Bellator MMA Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney told TheMMAReport.com recently that there were no plans to rush him into a tournament and would like to get him some more fights before placing him into a heavyweight tournament.