World MMA Bantamweight Scouting Report: #9 - Mike Easton

Knockout power is an attribute that the 135 lb. weight class isn't known to possess in mass quantities. Unlike the heavyweight division, bantamweights tend to go the judges' scorecards more consistently due to their speedy evasion tactics and lacking power. Even a guy like Mike Easton, our #9 ranked bantamweight on our 2011 World MMA Bantamweight Scouting Report, has a number of decisions on his record, but you wouldn't know it from looking at his incredibly built physique.

The 27-year-old Easton, a product of Team Lloyd Irvin in the Washington, D.C. area, hopes to return in 2011 and prove to the world that he's one of the best in the bantamweight division. With a continued focus on improving his skills and a training partner like current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, the dream may become a reality.

Offensive Skills: Easton is a physical freak of nature for a 135 lb. fighter. "The Hulk", as he's justly nicknamed, has the raw strength that shifts the balance of power in his favor whenever he steps into the cage. As Luke Thomas has reminded everyone during the UWC broadcasts, Easton's right hand is known as the "right hand of death" due to its enormous power and threat it poses to opponents.

Furthermore, Easton continues to hone his Muay Thai striking game to create more diversity in his skill-set. He has shown a more dynamic ranged arsenal, although there is a minor lack in technical prowess when it comes to landing his "death" blow to opponents.

On the ground, Easton has progressed up the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ranks to black belt. He's proven inside the cage that he can submit opponents, but he's more likely to stand and trade. In my opinion, that needs to change. If he can show that there is danger on the ground for opponents, his job on the feet may get much easier.

Defensive Skills: For the most part, Easton is a solid defensive fighter. He keeps his hands high and his head protected when pressed to the fence and scrambles quickly to avoid damage. Off his back, he has a very tight closed guard that also serves as a base to implement a submission game. His strength is one of his best assets in this category, mainly because it deters opponents from wading in his guard for any extended period of time.

Obviously, takedown defense is a concern after witnessing the Chase Beebe fight. To be perfectly honest, I thought it was a rising concern following the Dodson fight due to the way Easton telegraphed his kicks and Dodson caught it frequently. If that stale offense continues, wrestlers may not need to shoot to gain takedowns and control him.

Progression: Easton has shown a steady progression from fight to fight in every area of his game. The real question is whether the current layoff will affect that steady progression. Will he come back stronger or will this serve as a major setback in his ascension up the ranks? We don't know. We do know he has all the right people around him, the physical gifts to succeed, and the power punching to bring a house down. On paper, that sounds like a top UFC bantamweight in my book. All that's left is proving it.

Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight
#10 - Denis Puric
#9 - Mike Easton
#1 - Antonio Carvalho
#2 - Taiki Tsuchiya
#3 - Mark Adams
#4 - Alan Omer
#5 - Koichiro Matsumoto
#6 - Tom Niinimaki
#7 - Marcos Vinicius
#8 - Matt Fiordirosa
#9 - Isaac DeJesus
#10 - Michel Gagnon
#1 - Thiago Michel
#2 - Ricardo Tirloni
#3 - Magno Almeida
#4 - Ui Cheol Nam
#5 - Henrique Mello
#6 - Reza Madadi
#7 - Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 - Ole Laursen
#9 - Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 - Al Iaquinta
Welterweight Middleweight Light Heavyweight
#1 - Yuri Villefort
#2 - Alex Garcia
#3 - Erick Silva
#4 - Douglas Lima
#5 - Luis "Sapo" Santos
#6 - Jesse Juarez
#7 - Gunnar Nelson
#8 - Quinn Mulhern
#9 - Alberto Mina
#10 - Joe Ray
#1 - Papy Abedi
#2 - Chris Weidman
#3 - Vitor Vianna
#4 - Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 - Bruno Santos
#6 - Costantinos Philippou
#7 - Jordan Smith
#8 - Uriah Hall
#9 - Victor O'Donnell
#10 - Assan Njie
#1 - Marcos Pezao
#2 - Gian Villante
#3 - Jimi Manuwa
#4 - Glover Teixeira
#5 - Jan Blachowicz
#6 - Yoel Romero
#7 - Ryan Jimmo
#8 - Nik Fekete
#9 - Marcus Vanttinen
#10 - Ronny Markes

Scouting_report_medium

Environment: Easton trains out of Team Lloyd Irvin, a camp that houses UFC veterans Brandon Vera and Phil Davis. He's probably more well-known for the help he has provided current UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz since he's been sidelined with ailing injuries. I don't think I need to convey the importance of that partnership to Easton's continued success in the sport.

Potential: Mike Easton has the tools to succeed at the highest level. There is no question that he deserves to be on the UFC roster as one of their up-and-coming talents. That doesn't change the fact that I think our top five would give Mike Easton problems, big problems.

I'm not completely sold on Easton. A devastating right hand may cause a lot of fans to swoon at the spectacle of a knockout, but Easton needs to be more tactical in the gameplan he brings to the cage. Standing at range and firing off telegraphed combinations and right hands won't do it against speedy 135 lb. fighters.

Easton's ground game could be his best kept secret. The two guillotine choke submissions on his record were impressive, mostly due to the fact that he has the strength to wrench his opponents unconscious quickly. If he can begin to show that part of his game more frequently along with shoring up his takedown defense, Easton will be a staple of this sport for years to come.

Video


Mike Easton vs. John Dodson
Mike Easton vs. John Ferguson

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