Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. MMAWeekly.com takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.
KEY VICTORIES: James Hammortree, Chad Reiner
WEIGHT CLASS: Middleweight (185 pounds)
COUNTRY: United States
It’s been a long road to the UFC for 23-year-old Chris Camozzi.Yes, he’s young, but he’s been through a lot to earn his spot in the Octagon.
Training with UFC veteran Brad Gumm in Denver, Camozzi worked his way up the ranks, competing on numerous local fight cards and amassing a record of 7-0 before ever tasting defeat. He spent the next year bouncing back and forth between the MFC in Canada and small shows in the U.S. His record bounced along with him, a mediocre 3-3 during that spell.
After stumbling against The Ultimate Fighter alum Jesse Taylor, Camozzi finally got on the right track, scoring back-to-back victories, including a win over UFC veteran Chad Reiner. Coupled with his past successes and an ever-expanding skill set, it was enough to earn Camozzi a shot on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. But just as quickly as he made the move into the spotlight, it was nearly yanked away from him. Camozzi fought his way into the house, but suffered a broken jaw and was pulled from the competition.
“I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream, injury or not,” says Camozzi. “I would have loved to have stayed. It took me years to get here, and it took seconds to lose it.”
He heeded the advice of his coach on the show, Tito Ortiz, who told Camozzi, “Dreams do come true, and if you put something into it, you’ll get something out of it.” Camozzi followed that advice, and thus far, it has paid off. He was invited to fight on The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale, where he kept his dreams alive by winning a unanimous decision against James Hammortree.
Camozzi has a well-rounded game, strong in all facets: wrestling, striking, and submissions. He’s shown marked improvement in putting all those skills together into one fluid approach. Camozzi will further show his skills and move closer to his dream of a championship when he returns at UFC 121 to face incoming South Korean fighter Dong Yi Yang.
KEY VICTORIES: Travis Reddinger, Luis Gonzalez
WEIGHT CLASS: Bantamweight (135 pounds)
COUNTRY: United States
The son of two hard working Mexican immigrants, Ulysses Gomez learned early in life the value of putting in a strong effort to get what you want. He also had some footsteps to follow in when it came to athletics.
Ulysses’ older brother, Herculez, is a professional soccer player. He played several years for Major League Soccer before moving to Primera División de Mexico. He also plays for the Unites States national team. It’s no surprise that Ulysses would have an aptitude for athletics. He just chose a different sport.
Gomez grew up in Las Vegas, where he began training with Marc Laimon while still in high school. If that weren’t enough, his high school wrestling coach was UFC veteran and Nova Uniãoblack belt Tony DeSouza. Before making the transition to mixed martial arts, Gomez won several grappling titles in respected organizations like NAGA, Grappler’s Quest, and IGJJF.
He has relied on his extensive grappling background to kickoff his career in MMA. In eight professional fights, his only stumble came at the hands and feet of Rambaa Somdet, a Thai kickboxer with more the 200 bouts to his credit… and that went to a decision.
Gomez has utilized his ground game to tap out five of the seven opponents he has defeated. His last two victories have both come via decision, but each was a significant step forward for the 27-year-old father of two. He defeated Luis Gonzalez in a tough battle at Tachi Palace Fights 4 earlier this year. Gomez earned the first ever TPF Flyweight Title with the win and then decided to move to the Bellator Fighting Championships.
Again, Gomez found immediate success, earning his second decision victory, this time over Travis Reddinger in the opening round of Bellator’s Season 3 Bantamweight Tournament. Unfortunately, he had to bow out of the semifinal round due to a staph infection.
He’s now working with his training partners at Cobra Kai and Striking Unlimited to bring his striking game up to par with his grappling prowess. Keep an eye out for Gomez—he’ll be back in the Bellator cage soon.
KEY VICTORY: John Quinn
WEIGHT CLASS: Welterweight (170 pounds)
If you’ve ever seen Pascal Krauss fight, you understand why his nickname is “Panzer,” the German word for “Tank.” If you haven’t, you’ll understand once UFC 122 rolls around. That’s where Krauss will get the opportunity that he’s been waiting for—to take German mixed martial arts to the world stage. Up to this point, the 23-year-old has toiled away on the European circuit, where he has built a spotless 9-0 professional record.
Krauss started his combat sports career at just 14 years of age with traditional boxing. He amassed a 17-1 record as an amateur before moving on to wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. His search to become a top-level fighter has taken him to Brazil and both coasts of the United States, training with the likes of Roberto “Gordo” Correa, Renzo Gracie, and Cesar Gracie.
His most significant victory (thus far) came in his last bout, Cage Warriors: Right to Fight in England, when Krauss stopped John Quinn late in the second round of their fight and submitted him with a rear naked choke. The victory didn’t just put Krauss into the spotlight in a new market; it also earned him the Cage Warriors Welterweight Championship and catapulted him into a four-fight contract with the UFC.
Krauss’ hunger to constantly improve has shown through in his performances. Not only is he undefeated, but he hasn’t had a fight go outside of the second round. Krauss has finished every one of his opponents, primarily by submission, despite his proficiency in boxing.
As his nickname suggests, Krauss is a strong, muscular, aggressive fighter. He powers through opponents, slamming them on the mat and softening them up with a relentless ground-and pound attack that puts most foes on the immediate defensive. More often than not, this opens them up for his submission game, which he has used to finish seven of his fights. Of those seven submissions, six are by way of choke.
Krauss faces no easy task in fellow undefeated fighter Kenny Robertson at UFC 122, but if he continues to build on what he has already done and doesn’t get caught up in the lights of the UFC, he will be poised for a bright future.