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The Beaten Path: 5 Prospects to Watch in August

Riley KontekFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2014

The Beaten Path: 5 Prospects to Watch in August

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    Chris Hyde/Getty Images

    Another month, another chance for MMA prospects to prove their worth. That's right folks, the MMA train never stops. It continues to roll, month in and month out.

    At the Beaten Path, it is our job to make sure you keep your eye on the next wave of top-level talent. These men and women will grace the major leagues soon enough, and you need to get a head start on getting to know them.

    We are headed to the month of August. Who are the five prospects you should keep your eye on? Here they are in all their potential glory.

Pietro Menga

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    Division: Flyweight
    Age: Unknown
    Record: 11-0
    Next fight: vs. Steve McCombe at BAMMA Fight Night
    See it on: TBD

    England has some very good prospects, but none may be more exciting and better than Pietro Menga.

    The flyweight, who is undefeated through 11 pro bouts, is a muay thai practitioner with technical stand-up, good variety on the feet and a surprisingly sound submission game. In fact, seven of his 11 pro wins have come via tapout despite him being a striker.

    He is most effective with his chokes, as he is a physical brute at 125 pounds and has a very tight squeeze. He also won most of his amateur fights via submission as well, showing he is no one-trick pony.

    He rematches with 40-plus-fight veteran Steve McCombe, whom Menga already dispatched via rear-naked choke back in 2012. A win here should certainly get him a call from Sean Shelby and Co. from the UFC, especially considering they need more flyweights.

Joseph Duffy

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    Division: Lightweight
    Age: 26
    Record: 10-1
    Next fight: vs. Damien Lapilus at Cage Warriors 70
    See it on: MMAJunkie.com

    Before there was Conor McGregor, there was Joseph Duffy. Yes, at one time, Duffy was thought to be the Irish MMA prodigy, but he was knocked off the map following a failed bid to make it on The Ultimate Fighter 12 and his first official pro loss in 2011 to Ivan Musardo.

    However, Duffy has taken time away from the cage to improve. It will be nearly three years since he has fought, but Duffy has been hard at work.

    With the influx of Irish talent, Duffy's return is encouraging. Just take a look at this resume. Not only has he beaten the almighty McGregor via arm-triangle choke, but he owns wins over Norman Parke via rear-naked choke and Tom Maguire by triangle choke.

    A stern, solid showing by Duffy could rewin the hearts of the UFC brass. In his way is a tough dark horse by the name of Damien Lapilus. We will see how Duffy looks after three years of hiatus.

Marina Shafir

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    Division: Women's Featherweight
    Age: 26
    Record: 1-0
    Next fight: vs. Amanda Bell at Chaos at the Casino 5
    See it on: TBD

    A running buddy of Ronda Rousey, Marina Shafir is possibly the best prospect in women's MMA right now. The Olympic-level judoka has just one fight in her pro career, but she has MMA fans salivating at the thought of her making a move to the big show in the future.

    Not only was Shafir able to tap out Chandra Engel in her debut via sub-two-minute armbar, but she was 5-0 in her amateur career, never making the 100-second mark.

    Like her buddy Rousey, her go-to move is the armbar. She closes the distance quickly, secures a takedown and overwhelms opponents on the ground.

    She takes on Invicta veteran Amanda Bell in her sophomore effort as a pro. An impressive performance there should likely bring her a contract with Invicta FC, which now airs on UFC Fight Pass.

Stephan Puetz

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    Division: Light Heavyweight
    Age: 27
    Record: 10-1
    Next fight: vs. Luis Fernando Miranda at M-1 Challenge 50
    See it on: TBD

    Germany hasn't really sent many of its country's fighters to the big show yet. Stephan Puetz, the M-1 light heavyweight champion, is one guy who could be on the verge of making it to the majors.

    A well-rounded individual, Puetz put his name on the map by besting Viktor Nemkov, another top 205-pound prospect, via split decision. It was a bout that showed the German could hang with some of the heavy hitters of the division.

    With the UFC's global push bringing in more international fighters, one has to believe Puetz is on its radar. He could provide some depth to a 205-pound division in need of some more new faces.

Marcin Tybura

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    Division: Heavyweight
    Age: 28
    Record: 10-0
    Next fight: vs. Damian Grabowski at M-1 Challenge 50
    See it on: TBD

    Another division in need of some fresh faces and top prospects in the UFC is the heavyweight division. The best prospect in the division has to be Poland's Marcin Tybura, who is undefeated through 10 fights.

    Tybura is a menace on the ground, as the ferocious grappler has heavy ground-and-pound as well as fantastic submission prowess. His most recent wins are the best names on his resume, as he has finished Maro Perak, Konstantin Gluhov, Chaban Ka and Denis Komkin.

    He takes on his biggest test to date in well-traveled vet and fellow Pole Damian Grabowski. A win over a big name like Grabowski would really push Tybura's stock through the ceiling and force the UFC to negotiate a deal.

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