UFC Fight Night 131 takes place Friday, June 1 at Adirondack Bank Center in Utica, New York, and despite being a very solid card from top-to-bottom it’s flying under the radar. But while some may be sleeping on this event, you shouldn’t be as the card features a number of blue-chip prospects to keep your eye on.
Here are five prospects to watch for at UFC Utica.
After going undefeated through his first 11 pro MMA fights, standout wrestler Gregor Gillespie will look to make it five-straight wins in the UFC when he takes on Vinc Pichel in his highest-profile fight to date. At 31, Gillespie might be a bit older than your typical MMA prospect but keep in mind he has only been fighting pro since 2014 so he’s still very young in the sport. And so far, the results have been tremendous as he’s finished his last three opponents in the Octagon. The UFC is giving him a co-main event slot here against a name vet in Pichel in order to build Gillespie’s name, and if he can get the win in impressive fashion he could be in line for a top-15 bout his next time out.
A former standout on Dana White’s Contender Series, Arce made a great impression in his UFC debut with a decisive win over Dan Ige. Arce is 14-2 in MMA and at just 28 is in his prime. His only two career losses came against Brian Kelleher, otherwise he’s been perfect. Arce is riding a six-fight win streak and with a win here over Daniel Teymur could see a boost up the featherweight rankings. The 145lbs division in the UFC is full of a bunch of killers so Arce is going to have to not only beat Teymur, but finish him in impressive fashion if he wants to take advantage of this prime main card opportunity.
Flying under the radar a bit is Chance Rencountre, who holds a 12-2 record since beginning his pro MMA career in 2013. Rencountre is 31 so he’s a bit of an older prospect as well but coming off of four-straight wins — his last three wins via stoppage — it’s easy to see why the UFC was interested in him to fill in on short notice for Niko Price against Belal Muhammad. This is a pretty tough UFC debut fight, but if Rencountre shows some skills in the bout the UFC could take notice and push him up the ladder even if he loses.
The former Cage Warriors bantamweight champion, Nathaniel Wood is just 24 and has a solid 13-3 record in his MMA career so far. He’s won his last four-straight fights by knockout and is on a five-fight win streak overall when he makes his UFC debut this weekend against veteran bantamweight Johnny Eduardo. Wood has a chance to beat the aging Eduardo and put his name in the mix at 135lbs, so this is a huge opportunity for him and he needs a win in impressive fashion to take advantage of it.
A former two-division champion in Titan FC, Jose Torres is one of the top prospects in MMA regardless of weight class. Just 25, he’s already 7-0 since beginning his pro MMA career in 2016 and he looks like he could be a force to be reckoned with at 125lbs in the UFC. Torres took this fight against Jarred Brooks on short notice so it will be interesting to see how he performs, but based on his resume in Titan FC, UFC fans have a lot to be excited for.
What prospect are you most excited to watch at UFC Fight Night 131? Leave a comment below.