MMA prospect rankings update middleweight-welterweight: Benjamin Brinsa, Andre Santos, & Brandon Thatch earn high grades
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. 120 prospects from 125-185 pounds have been added with the remaining two weight classes updated by February 1.
A sign of how the UFC, Bellator and Strikeforce are handling their rosters the welterweight and middleweight divisions have gone through a massive changeover in the past 12 months. 170 pounds remains talent rich in prospects despite seeing many of its best fighters get scooped up in 2011. At 185 pounds prospects from Europe and Brazil dominant the rankings in a weight class normally seen as shallow in the US.
In the highly competitive Brazilian MMA circuit, Team Nogueira welterweight Andre Santo (28-6) surged to the head of the pack in 2011 with a 6-2 record. After a two fight losing streak in the span of 16 days in May 2011, Santos finished the year with four straight wins. In October Santos may have secured his call up to a major US promotion with an impressive one night tournament victory at Bitetti Combat 10.
Stateside Colorado welterweight Brandon Thatch (6-1) had his best year of his career in 2011. A hyped but relatively inactive prospect, Thatch stifled his regional competition with three straight first round finishes. At 26 years of age Thatch is a skilled striker who has rounded out his game at the famed Grudge Training Center.
A former soccer player, Germany's Benjamin Brinsa (11-0) has quietly built a killer reputation under home country the Free Fight Championship. At 185 pounds Brinsa is aggressive striker with ten career stops in 11 pro fights. Only 22 years of age Brinsa's ground game and defense can improve but his hype as a five star prospect will likely lead him into international waters in the near future.
The journey of British middleweight Tom Watson (16-4) has taken twists and turns across the UK MMA scene since 2006. A winner of 10 of his last 11 bouts Watson has carried England's torch into bouts with UFC, Pride and IFL veterans. The 27 year old Watson is a prospect already capable of headlining events but the allure of fighting on the UFC's next stop in the UK could draw the striker up to the major leagues of MMA.