New Blood

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.

Carlos Diego Ferreira
Record: 7-0
Key Victory: Carlo Prater
Weight Class: 155 lbs.
Age: 28
Country: United States
Twitter: @diegobjjtx

In just two short years, Carlos Diego Ferreira has become one of the top lightweight prospects in Texas. Most recently, Ferreira headlined Legacy FC 20 and outshined UFC veteran Carlo Prater en route to a unanimous-decision victory in the evening’s main event.

“I did what I was supposed to do,” says Ferreira. “I wanted to exchange a little bit and try out my stand-up, and I wanted to see if I had improved my game or if I needed to go to the ground. I did good with all of my skills, and I really liked my performance this time.”

Heading into his first major headlining spot on live television could have intimidated a fighter with just six career bouts, but not so for Ferreira.

“I really don’t think about it,” he says. “When I get inside the cage, I really don’t think about anything. I like to turn off everything and concentrate on the fight. I was excited to be on TV, but it wasn’t really any different than my previous fights.”

While his mindset might not have been different, Ferreira says that getting a chance to be part of Legacy has helped him expand greatly from his home base in southern Texas.

“I have a lot of fans here in the valley, but when I go to Corpus Christi, only a few guys I know go, but being on TV helps a lot with getting new fans,” he says. “It helps get me exposure, and I really like to be on TV and show my work.”

Even with enhanced exposure and a win over a well-known opponent, Ferreira refuses to let things go to his head. He knows he still has a lot of work to do to reach his goal.

“It feels pretty good, and I know Carlo is a really awesome fighter, but I know I have a lot more people I need to fight and beat,” says Ferreira. “I don’t think I’m the best. Right now, I don’t have anything planned. I have two more fights with Legacy, so when it comes time to fight again in Legacy, I’ll be ready. I really want to fight the best, and I know I have to fight better guys to get to the big show. I know I will get there one day.”

Rick Rainey
Record: 7-1
Key Victories: Reggie Pena, Joseph Corneroli
Weight Class: 170 lbs.
Age: 30
Country: United States
Nickname: The Sniper
Twitter: @RickyRaineyMMA

Ricky “The Sniper” Rainey is a fighter’s fighter and a promoter’s dream. He comes to fight—every time—and nothing keeps him out of the cage when he commits to a fight. His fight against Joseph Corneroli at XFC 22 in February was a perfect example. Rainey admittedly did not have the best performance, but it was for a good reason.

“I feel like I could have done better, but he was ready for battle,” says Rainey. “I definitely respect him for taking the fight and performing as well as he did. I had a fractured hand going into the fight, so I wasn’t at 100 percent, but I got the unanimous decision, so I was happy about it in the end.”

When asked why he would take a fight with such an injury, Rainey gave an old-school answer.

“I didn’t want to let the XFC down. I want to perform whenever they want me to perform. I’d already signed the contract, so I didn’t want to back out. You’re always going to have injuries going into a fight, so I just made sure I was prepared for it.”

Rainey followed up his win at XFC 22 with another unanimous-decision victory at Fight Lab 31, and then he took out Reggie Pena via TKO at XFC 24, making him one of the top contenders for the promotion’s welterweight championship.

“What I’m going to try to do is keep the ball rolling,” he says. “I know I want to keep going forward, keep winning, and be successful without any injuries. Whatever comes my way, I’ll gladly take it.”

Steve Carl
Record: 20-3
Key Victories: Tyson Steele, Tyler Stinson, Brett Cooper
Weight Class: 170 lbs.
Age: 28
Country: United States
Twitter: @Steve_Carl

After losing his second fight in three bouts and being released from Bellator, welterweight Steve Carl knew he had to make some changes if he was going to get back on track. Specifically, Carl felt his mindset needed to change if he was going to return to being a successful fighter.

“After the fight with Douglas [Lima], I took a step back and figured if I’m going to do this, I need to get in there and just let myself do it,” says Carl. “I was on a year break before I fought Douglas, and once I got in the cage, I was nervous, I was hesitant, and I thought I was going to lose that fight going into it—and I fought that way. Going forward, I knew if I was going to continue in this sport, I needed to just jump in there head-first and fight. That’s what I’ve been doing, and things have been going well.”

Having gotten his head back into the game, Carl (20-3) has won six fights in a row, including his first two bouts for the burgeoning World Series of Fighting promotion.

“I like the fact that the WSOF is bringing in known guys, because that gives me an opportunity to compete. If I fight them and beat them, that is a great opportunity to jump up in the fans’ minds.”

Carl is coming off a victory over Tyson Steele at World Series of Fighting 3 in June. That victory could propel him to contender status for the promotion’s first welterweight championship. Carl could soon be lined up to fight either UFC veteran Jon Fitch to earn his way into the title bout, or perhaps even step immediately into a battle for the belt against Josh Burkman.

Regardless of whether or not a title shot is the next stop for Carl, the victory over Steele, one of the promotion’s top rising stars, put him in the spotlight and on everyone’s radar.

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