As we enter another momentous year for mixed martial arts, we can look back on a litany of competitors who seized the proverbial brass ring and launched themselves into the sport’s center spotlight.

Talents such as Will Brooks, Kelvin Gastelum, Conor McGregor and Rose Namajunas rose from prospects to champions and perennial title contenders within a few short months, representing the latest wave of well-rounded mixed martial artists to fulfill their potential.

Now, with 2015 underway, we identify 25 new talents who are poised to do great things in the coming year. In alphabetical order, here is part one of five.

 

Ryan LaFlare (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Ryan LaFlare (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

11) Ryan LaFlare

Nickname: N/A
Age: 31
Weight: 170lbs (Welterweight)
MMA Career Record: 11-0
Most Notable Victory: Court McGhee (UFC on Fox 9 – Johnson vs. Benavidez 2, December 2013)

 

 

 

A resident of New York, Ryan LaFlare splits his training time between the Long Island MMA Center, Bellmore Kickboxing Academy and Jaco Hybrid Training Center of the Blackzilians.

The variety apparently suits LaFlare who is 4-0 inside the UFC.

LaFlare first established himself in the New Jersey based Ring of Combat promotion. One of the most prestigious regional MMA organizations in the industry, it has featured several other notable fighters including Uriah Hall, Costas Phillipou and the UFC’s current middleweight champion, Chris Weidman.

Impressive performances on the regional circuit caught the eye of executives at Strikeforce, who signed him in 2011. A torn ACL would prevent LaFlare from appearing for Strikeforce before Zuffa acquired the promotion’s assets, including the LaFlare’s contract.

LaFlare has notably demonstrated a wrestling prowess in his MMA career. His ability to score repeated takedowns formed a crucial part of his decision victories over the likes of John Howard, Santiago Ponzinibbio and Benny Alloway. Three other career wins by armbar show added proficiency in his submission game.

Sitting at #15 in the promotion’s welterweight rankings, LaFlare was poised to face Gunnar Nelson back in July before a second ACL injury to the same knee forced him from the bout. LaFlare is expected to return this spring and has sounded out Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Demian Maia, ranked #8, for a bout that would allow LaFlare to continue his climb to the highest echelons of 170 pounds.

Chad Laprise (Neil Atkinson/Sherdog)

Chad Laprise (Neil Atkinson/Sherdog)

12) Chad Laprise

Nickname: The Disciple
Age: 28
Weight: 170lbs (Welterweight)
MMA Career Record: 9-0
Most Notable Victory: Olivier Aubin-Mercier (The Ultimate Fighter Nations Finale: Bisping vs. Kennedy, April 2014)

 

 

 

Another welterweight who enjoyed a prosperous year is Chad Laprise.

After securing two victories in Bellator back in 2012, The Disciple joined Patrick Cote’s team on the cast of The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia. A native of London, Ontario, Canada, Laprise would win the series, besting Olivier Aubin-Mercier by split decision in the tournament’s finale.

Laprise soon earned a second victory, defeating Yosdenis Cedeno in the UFC’s first trip to Nova Scotia. Showing refined spatial awareness to cut off the Octagon at crucial moments of the fight, The 28-year-old asserted himself on the feet and proceeded to take down his opponent four separate times for a unanimous decision win.

The next professional hurdle for The Disciple remains unclear. In the meantime, Laprise continues to train and develop at the Adrenaline Training Center, home to several other notable Canadian MMA talents, past and present, including Mark Hominick, Sam Stout, Chris Horodecki and Chris Clements.

Caio Magalhes (Leonardo Fabri/Sherdog)

Caio Magalhes (Leonardo Fabri/Sherdog)

13) Caio Magalhaes

Nickname: Hellboy
Age: 27
Weight: 185lbs (Middleweight)
MMA Career Record: 9-1
Most Notable Victory: Nick Ring (UFC Fight Night – Hunt vs. Bigfoot, December 2014)

 

 

 

 

After enduring a shaky start to his UFC career against Buddy Roberts, Magalhaes has collected four consecutive victories inside the Octagon.

The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt has blended his grappling ability with ferocious striking to win his past two fights in explosive fashion; knocking out Trevor Smith and Luke Zachrich, each within a minute of the first round. Magalhaes’s intensity in 2014 certainly lends new credence to the ferocious nickname of “Hellboy”.

As Magalhaes looks to graduate from prospect to contender, he splits his training between Dragon Fight and arguably Brazil’s most elite academy, Nova Uniao, where his affiliates include UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Bellator standout Eduardo Dantas, and UFC veterans Junior Dos Santos and Hacran Dias.

As reward for his impressive performances, Magalhaes was originally tapped for the most profile bout of his career against Mark Munoz at UFC 184. Citing the need for surgery after sustaining a tooth infection, Hellboy opted to withdraw from the bout. The 27-year-old remains a tall order for anyone in the UFC’s middleweight division.

Rashid Magomedov (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

Rashid Magomedov (Gleidson Venga/Sherdog)

14) Rashid Magomedov
Nickname: Goretz (Highlander)
Age: 30
Weight: 155lbs (Lightweight)
MMA Career Record: 18-1
Most Notable Victory: Elias Silverio (UFC Fight Night – Machida vs. Dollaway, December 2014)

 

 

 

 

Magomedov had already made this list of prospects before his latest outing at UFC Fight Night – Machida vs. Dollaway, but a TKO stoppage victory over the previously undefeated Elias Silverio with just three seconds left on the clock cemented his role beyond doubt.

The stoic resident of Dagestan, Russia enjoys a perfect 3-0 record inside the UFC. Having previously amassed nine victories and a welterweight championship in the Russian promotion M-1 Global, he rides an 11 fight winning streak into 2015.

An affiliate of Gorec MMA, Red Fury Fight Team, Team Takedown, and American Top Team, Magomedov holds a well-balanced background in sambo and amateur boxing, capped by two separate Master of Sports titles in Hand to Hand Combat and Boxing (a similar concept to the black belt in Russian sports).

Magomedov’s accomplishments have translated to effective counter striking and a takedown defense rate of 92 percent that stands among the highest on the UFC’s roster.

With his victory over Silverio still fresh in the minds of MMA fans, Magomedov’s next opponent has not yet been announced. Like his fellow lightweight compatriots Khabib Nurmagomedov and Rustam Khabilov, Goretz has proven his readiness for a step up in competition caliber at 155 pounds.

Pedro Munhoz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Pedro Munhoz (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

15) Pedro Munhoz

Nickname: The Young Punisher
Age: 28
Weight: 135lbs (Bantamweight)
MMA Career Record: 12-1
Most Notable Victory: Jeff Curran (RFA 9 – Munhoz vs. Curran, August 2013)

 

 

 

A two-time Brazilian National No-Gi Champion and a six-time state BJJ Champion, Pedro Munhoz has found great success transitioning his grappling credentials to MMA, winning seven career fights by submission.

The Sao Paulo native previously fought in Ed Soares’ development league, Resurrection Fighting Alliance, winning four fights in the promotion and capturing its bantamweight championship before joining the UFC just under one year ago.

Munhoz was handed a tough task in his debut for the promotion, dropping a unanimous decision to current fourth ranked UFC bantamweight and perennial title contender Rafael Assuncao.

Training between Black House and Kings MMA, Munhoz continued to grow under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro while sharing the same mat space as top UFC lightweight contender Rafael Dos Anjos, Maro Miranda, Kevin Casey and Roger Gracie. The combination proved to be a recipe for success as The Young Punisher rebounded swiftly with first round finishes over Matt Hobar and Jerrod Sanders in 2014.

With his next fight, Munhoz has an opportunity to break into the bantamweight division’s top 15 rankings and continue his transformation from hot prospect to elite contender.

 

Stay tuned for part four of five, as we continue to highlight MMA’s hottest prospects in 2015.

 

Read part one of The MMA Corner’s 25 Hottest Prospects in 2015 here.

Read part two of The MMA Corner’s 25 Hottest Prospects in 2015 here.