2012 World MMA Lightweight Scouting Report: #4 - Justin Salas

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Photo by Isaac Hinds, Sherdog

Name: 22px-flag_of_the_united_states Justin Salas
Nickname: --
Age: 29
Height: 5'8"
Location:
Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Five years ago, Justin Salas (10-3) was slaving away in the trona mines of his hometown in Green River, Wyoming without any thoughts of a career in fighting. His only connection to mixed martial arts was a heralded high school wrestling career that bloomed into a spot on the University of Wyoming wrestling squad. Naturally, one would expect the transition to the sport to be seamless, but Salas' entry took a more indirect route.

According to MMAJunkie.com's Kyle Nagel, Salas' introduction stemmed from a favor to an old friend:

"He (an old wrestling buddy) said, 'I'm supposed to do this fight, but my wife's about ready to have a kid and I don't wanna leave the guy high and dry,'" Salas told MMAjunkie.com(www.mmajunkie.com). "I asked if it was pro or amateur, and he asked which I wanted. I said, 'Do I get paid?' He said, 'If it's a pro fight, you get paid.'

"So, I got a week-and-a-half notice before becoming a professional fighter."

With no training beyond his standout high school wrestling career and Division I college experience in the sport, Salas competed well but was beaten by an armbar submission.

Salas has since recorded nine wins, his latest being an upset decision win over skilled wrestler Joe Ellenberger, the brother of UFC fighter Jake Ellenberger, at Victory Fighting Championships 36 in October. The victory was preceded by an unanimous decision over UFC veteran Rob Emerson nine months prior, making 2011 the best year of his five-year professional career.

Salas' success is rooted in his wrestling skills. He specializes in ripping opponents off the cage with single and double leg takedowns from the clinch, and he's proficient in producing offense by way of strikes or submissions on the ground.

On the feet, Salas is no slouch, utilizing a southpaw stance and possessing the know-how to throw basic combinations. He isn't an advanced striker by any means, but his striking is good enough to compliment his grappling skills.

Combined with solid takedown defense and abundant cardio, Salas is one of the most versatile competitors on our countdown. From a technical standpoint, there are improvements to be made in both his stand-up and grappling acts, but training at the Grudge Training Center in Colorado with the likes of UFC veterans Nate Marquardt, Duane Ludwig, Shane Carwin, and the enormous roster of fighters the facility houses should help him fine tune those areas. With a strong support system and an extensive background in wrestling, it shouldn't be a surprise that Salas is close to making a splash on a larger platform.

Check out more video footage of Justin Salas after the jump...

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#1 - Rony Mariano
#2 - Aljamain Sterling
#3 - Chris Holdsworth
#4 - Josh Hill
#5 - Fabiano Fernandes
#6 - Claudio Ledesma
#7 - Sirwan Kakai
#8 - Kyoji Horiguchi
#9 - Leandro Hygo
#10 - Pedro Munhoz
#1 - Hacran Dias
#2 - Joey Gambino
#3 - Brandon Bender
#4 - Lance Palmer
#5 - Jim Alers
#6 - Anthony Gutierrez
#7 - Max Holloway
#8 - John Teixeira
#9 - Cody Bollinger
#10 - Bubba Jenkins
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#4 - Justin Salas
#5 - Neilson Gomes
#6 - Eduard Folayang
#7 - Zorobabel Moreira
#8 - Anton Kuivanen
#9 - Jordan Rinaldi
#10 - J.P. Vainikainen
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Scouting_report_medium

Early Justin Salas HL Reel

Justin Salas vs. Joe Ellenberger
Victory Fighting Championships 36 - October 14, 2011

Justin Salas vs. Rob Emerson
Full Force Fighting 1 - January 29, 2011



Justin Salas vs. Matt Simms
July 24, 2010

Justin Salas vs. Brenton Swanson (Undocumented pro fight)
Fight Industries "The Beginning" - November 14, 2009

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