MMA prospect rankings update lightweight-featherweight: Bubba Jenkins, Joe Ellenberger, & Doo Ho Choi enter top ten
ULTMMA.com has released and updated its 2012 set of Mixed Martial Arts prospect rankings. The rankings cover a top 20 for each of the eight major MMA weight classes heavyweight through flyweight with a total of 160 unsigned prospects rated. 80 prospects from 125-155 pounds have been added with the remaining four weight classes updated by February 1.
Perhaps two of the deepest divisions in MMA, prospects in the featherweight and lightweight classes provide matchmakers in the UFC and Bellator plenty of worthy options. At 145 and 155 pounds the number potential prospects could easily hold a top 25 or top 40 ranking.
The hype behind featherweight prospect Bubba Jenkins' (1-0) MMA debut began before his senior year wrestling at Arizona State University. Jenkins backed up his talk in March 2011 by capturing a NCAA championship for the Sun Devils at 157 pounds. Jenkins made a successful MMA debut in December 2011 and has the ability to fight at 145 or 155 pounds in 2012.
South Korean featherweight prospect Doo Ho Choi (8-1) used a pair of dramatic upsets over Japanese MMA stalwarts to launch his stock in 2011. Choi, a four star prospect, knocked out former Deep lightweight champion Nobuhiro Obiya (12-5-1) in October with a highlight reel flying knee strike. The 20 year old Choi closed the year in December with a first round stoppage of ex-Pride star Mitsuhiro Ishida (20-8).
One of the best stories of 2011 on the local MMA scene was lightweight prospect Joe Ellenberger's (12-1) return to action. In 2009 Ellenberger was a surefire four star prospect before injuries and a life threatening illness sidelined his career. At 26 years of age and with a 2-1 record in 2011, Ellenberger reclaims his status as a top 155 pound prospect to watch in 2012.
French lightweight prospect Mansour Barnaoui (6-0) came out nowhere to make noise in his home country and draw the eyes of European talent scouts. Just 19 years old Barnaoui made his pro debut in February and submitted all three of opponents in a one night tournament. Barnaoui's final three opponents of a busy year held a combined record of 22-12. The young Frenchman's violent striking coupled his natural grappling ability make him worth of a four star grade with the potential to improve even more in 2012.