In the exploding world of MMA, it’s sometimes hard for fans to notice some of the amazing fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. We’ve enlisted the experts at MMAWeekly.com to take you deep inside the sport, and present you with some of the newest names to watch.
Eduardo Dantas has the potential to be a star.
The Nova Uniao fighter is coming off the biggest win of his short career, a unanimous victory over Shooto champion Shinichi “BJ” Kojima. Prior to facing Dantas, Kojima had not lost a fight in four years. Not bad for an 18-year-old kid who’s still in high school.
“I was really happy with the decision,” said the young Brazilian. “However, it was my goal to finish Kojima. I was expecting the judges’ decision to be in my favor because I dominated the fight from the start, both standing and on the ground.”
Fighters from Team Nova Uniao are known for their ground prowess, and Eduardo Dantas is no exception. The young fighter earned his blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of Master Andre Pederneiras. He has won Copa do
“I’d describe myself as a very disciplined and responsible guy who likes training a lot. In the future, I’d like to make a living doing what I like, which is fighting. My style is versatile. I like both fighting on my feet and on the ground,” explained Eduardo.
“Wherever the fight ends up is fine by me. People used to say Nova Uniao guys only like to fight on the ground. Now it’s the other way around. The guys here like to trade blows, and I like it too.”
One of the most appealing aspects of Dantas’s game is his lack of fear. He uses his reach and height to his advantage, and favors throwing kicks and fl ying knees. Behind the young face is a fighter who loves the sport and respects his teammates and elders.
“I model myself after Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro. He’s a very disciplined guy, who, even when there’s no one to train with, trains by himself. He’s always on time and I think he’s one of the best lightweights there is. I also look up to Marcos ‘Louro’ Galvao. He’s a very punctual guy and is also very disciplined.”
Having only fought in
Organizations such as the WEC, Shooto, and K-1 Hero’s continue to showcase many of the lighter weight fighters today. With every win, Eduardo Dantas proves why he is one of the most promising prospects in the world.
“For now I just want to fight. I’m in the last year of high school now, which I will finish and then go on to do physical education and physiotherapy in college. My goal is to beat everybody at this weight and then move up in weight after that.”
Name: Manny Tapia
Nickname: The Mangler
Professional Record: 9-0-1
Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai
Notable Wins: Brandon Foxworth, Shad Smith
Manny Tapia is a man on a mission.
The former King of the Cage 135-pound division champion recently signed with World Extreme Cagefighting, and was victorious in his debut. Undefeated after ten fights, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt under Javier Vasquez still has much to achieve in the growing sport of MMA.
“I was actually getting ready to retire; there was no money in it. I was done. I did not want to fight anymore,” revealed Tapia. “But then the WEC called and I went for it.”
Tapia represents Millennia Jiu-Jitsu, a team to which the
Tapia made his WEC debut in May 2007 against Brandon Foxworth. “The Mangler” battered his opponent over two rounds, ending Foxworth’s fourteen fight winning streak. Manny has shown to have heavy hands and favors the ground and pound.
“As a fighter…I just go with it. I really don’t go in with a game plan; I just go by whatever my opponent gives me. As soon as I see an opening, I’m going to take it. I can be aggressive or I can be mellow, it just depends on how the fight’s going.”
For some fighters, maintaining an undefeated record can add unnecessary pressure.
“There’s a little pressure,” commented Tapia, regarding his record. “I train hard. I know a fight can end quickly with just one punch. I’m relaxed when I go into fight, I’m not nervous. As long as I know I gave it my all, I’ve got nothing to lose. I don’t care what anyone else thinks.”
Tapia was scheduled to challenge WEC 135-pound champion Chase Beebe for the title back in September, but a knee injury derailed his title shot. Now fully recovered, the Millennia fighter has been training hard for his return to the cage and looks forward to getting another shot at the belt sometime in the near future.
“I’m really starting to pick things up. I’m not the most technical guy in the world, but once I’m in there I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to fight with my heart and give it my best. I’ll lay it all on the line.
Name: Shayna Basler
Nickname: Queen of Spades
Professional Record: 8-4
Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai
Notable Wins: Julie Kedzie, Roxanne Modafferi
She’s tough. She’s talented. She can be a little outspoken.
Shayna Baszler takes her fighting career seriously and wants to show the world that she’s one of the best female mixed martial artists today.
“I had a normal childhood; no abusive relatives or bad experiences. I was a good kid that got good grades. Never did any martial arts or anything combative, but played many sports,” said Baszler. “I decided to try fighting at a local show and started training after getting my butt handed to me. Caught the MMA sickness and the rest is being written.”
Under the tutelage of former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight titleholder
Josh Barnett, Shayna trains hard to improve every aspect of her game.
“I train every day with guys that are bigger than me. When I train, everyone’s bigger, everyone’s heavier, and everyone’s stronger,” she said. “I’ve been doing Jiu-Jitsu for a long time and it’s something I really concentrate on, something I love to do. I’m a hard worker and very calculated.”
Not one to back down from a fight, the “Queen of Spades” has faced some of the toughest names in the business, including Amanda Buckner, Kelly Kobald, Roxanne
Modafferi, and Tara Larosa.
Shayna Baszler and Gina Carano represent the top of EliteXC’s women’s division. Carano has become one of the most recognizable faces in women’s MMA today.
“It is very much Gina’s division at this moment, and that’s not a good or bad thing,” commented the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu purple belt. “I would love to fight Gina. EliteXC has not spoken to me about a fight with Gina. I’d fi ght her tomorrow if they offered it to me.
With that said, I’m going to fight whoever they put in front of me.”
A showdown with Carano seems imminent. For Shayna, a victory over her would garner instant name recognition and help establish her as one of the best in the world. “I don’t want to be known for any one great thing. I want to define an era. I want ‘Shayna Baszler’ to define a period of time.”