Mon. Jan 30th, 2023

While the UFC does an excellent job at promoting their top stars, when it comes to giving shine to fighters on the prelims they start to lack in their promotional abilities.

On almost every card, there are hidden gem fighters that are worth the watch that you wouldn’t know existed. I’m taking it upon myself to talk about these fighters if the promotion won’t do it.

Without any further ado, here are three prospects to keep your eye out for on the UFC 269 prelims.

Andre Muniz (21-4, 3-0 UFC): In a division that features very few promising prospects, Andre “Sergipano” Muniz is like a breath of fresh air. Muniz’s string of impressive finishes on the regional scene earned him two shots on Dana White’s Contender Series, getting officially signed to the promotion on his second CS fight in 2019. After an admittedly boring debut win against Antonio Arroyo, Muniz would go on to score two straight first-round finishes against Bartosz Fabinski and Jacare Souza.

What is most intriguing about Muniz is that he is a BJJ specialist who seems to have perfectly adapted to the modern meta of MMA. The stereotype surrounding BJJ specialists in MMA is that they do not know how to strike technically or how to wrestle offensively. Muniz has shown the ability to do both. He’s equally dangerous from top position and off of his back, which means going to the ground with Muniz in any capacity is signing your death warrant.

With the retirement of Jacare Souza, Muniz possesses the second-best BJJ in the division behind Rodolfo Vieira. Muniz faces off with Eryk Anders, who is a powerful striker who uses his size and power to enforce his will on his opponents. This will be a new stylistic matchup for Muniz in the UFC, and if he dispatches Anders in a similar fashion to his last two opponents, he will enter the middleweight rankings and establish himself as a serious contender to watch.

Miranda Maverick (9-3, 2-1 UFC): In a division ruled over by a dominant champion who has beaten nearly every contender, when a new prospect comes along it becomes a major event. Coming over from Invicta, Miranda Maverick entered the UFC as one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division even before making her UFC debut.

In her first two UFC appearances, Maverick was able to show off how adept she is in the different aspects of the sport. Against Jojua, her sharp precision striking was able to break Liana Jojua’s nose to earn a corner stoppage. Maverick then dominated Gillian Robertson on the ground with excellent position grappling. Now the next fight on her record may reflect a loss but mostly everyone who watched the fight knows that Maverick should have been victorious against Maycee Barber. Maverick fights in a very shallow division and her skillset being as vast as it is immediately gives her an edge against the majority of the competition.

She has shown great fight IQ, making few mistakes and fighting intelligently. What is interesting about Maverick is that she likes to beat her opponents at their own games, showing that whatever they can do, she can do better. In taking on a fellow prospect in Erin Blanchfield, a win propels Maverick back to contender status and her rise to the top of the division will be back on course.

Bruno Silva (21-6, 2-0 UFC): Bruno Silva is the type of fighter that every division needs to have. While he may not be the most technically skilled fighter, what Bruno Silva represents is pure action. Silva is content to get battered for most of the fight, as his defense is quite bad, but slip up for one second and he will put you to sleep.

His “comeback kid” persona was on full display in his last fight, knocking out former TUF Winner Andrew Sanchez after losing badly in the first two rounds. Souza’s nuclear power has always been his best attribute, as on any given night he can knock out any middleweight alive. He is a no-quit brawler who only has one goal in mind, to brutally knock out his competition. While his style will not take him to the top of the division, his attributes will work incredibly well against unranked competition, especially in a division with a talent pool like middleweight.

Due to the weakness of the division, Silva could find himself ranked in the future. His weaknesses aside, Silva is a fighter you absolutely cannot afford to miss. You turn away from one of his fights for one second and you could miss fireworks.

By Zach Harkness

Zach Harkness is the head fight analyst at MMA Island.