What happens when you mix Persian blood, a decade worth of wrestling experience, and the cold of the Swedish tundra? Reza "Mad Dog" Madadi (10-2), one of Scandinavia's best lightweight prospects, is the result. The Iranian-born fighter, who trains out of Stockholm, Sweden, recently blasted through two former Zuffa competitors in Junie Browning and Carlo Prater, and there are rumors swirling that he may bring his relentless wrestling style to an Octagon near you soon. He ranks at #6 on our 2011 World MMA Lightweight scouting report.
Offensive Skills: Madadi's offense revolves around a wrestling background that has spanned over a decade of his life. While it's definitely odd that an Iranian-born Swedish mixed martial artist would have better wrestling than many mid-level North American fighters, there's a reason why Madadi is known as "Mad Dog". He's relentless in his attacks, sets up his takedowns well by mixing punches and knees in the clinch, and he fully commits to the takedown when he shoots. I don't think "half-assed" or "amateur" is in his vocabulary.
His stand-up skills are a bit deceptive. While he doesn't possess crushing knockout power, he can be pretty effective in causing opponents to cover up and shooting for takedowns as they defend. His clinch skills work well in conjunction with that type of gameplan, and his footwork and quickness on the feet make him an absolute nightmare for anyone trying to gauge when he'll shoot.
Defensive Skills: He's shown decent head movement at times in his career, good defense with his hands to incoming blows, but his offense serves as his best defense. Every opponent must prepare for Madadi's takedown game, and that has ultimately eliminated much of the threat to him on the feet. He will definitely need to be challenged in order for us to truly see how solid his defense is to the submission, but at this point -- nobody has been able to outwrestle him.
Progression & Learning Ability: The interesting thing about Reza Madadi is that he comes from the wrestling mindset that is synonymous with how North American fighters think. If it isn't working, go back to what you know. But the intrigue here is that Madadi has this sort of love affair with slamming the life out of opponents and taking them down at will. Most people hate Antonio McKee for the same reason, but there is something appealing about watching a fighter such as Madadi actually take guys down over and over again versus an Andy Wang moment in which he won't do what he needs to do to win.
In terms of his progression, I'd love to see him put a bit more power into his combinations as he does seem to land quite often in the clinch. I'm not exactly convinced he'll do that as he seems to have a propensity to want to beat the life out of people in the ground.
Environment: He currently trains out of Hiliti NHB in Sweden, a team that houses middleweight prospect Papy Abedi and former UFC fighters Per Eklund and David Bielkheden. There are also various camps in the region that provide some challenges as well. He's more than likely the top dog when it comes to wrestling at his camp, so it would probably help him if he made his way stateside to train against some of the better wrestlers in the United States.
Potential: There is some question as to whether he can compete with some of the beefier guys in his division, but I'd probably counter that with the fact that Madadi will make every fighter put in front of him work their ass off to beat him. Even against bigger competitors, Madadi made them look bad in both the stand-up and ground departments, and his relentless pace only makes it tougher.
For me, Madadi's personality is rather interesting to soak in as well. He's the epitome of toughness, and some would probably say he gives off a "gangsta" attitude. In some ways, that type of personality can be appealing to many fans who are attracted to the confidence that he radiates, and it doesn't take long to see that his performances show that confidence.
Madadi is likely going to get a phone call from the UFC, and if he doesn't -- Joe Silva isn't doing his job. He absolutely dominated Carlo Prater in his last performance, and he made Junie Browning look like a 1-0 neophyte. Madadi may not beat the best in the world at 155, but he won't disappoint in trying to prove that he is.
Reza Madadi vs. Carlo Prater, Round 1
Reza Madadi vs. Carlo Prater, Round 2
Reza Madadi vs. Carlo Prater, Round 3
Reza Madadi highlight
Reza Madadi vs. Junie Browning