TUF 17 SCOUTING REPORT
I hate watching all these talented fighters and having no idea what they've done or where they've been, so I took to the internet to gain an understanding of these fighters. I've never trained with any of the fighters, nor do I know them personally, these are just observations I've picked up from watching the footage of their fights on YouTube. After doing this, I do have to admit I'm excited to the talent level of this season's fighters, and expect a lot of them to really compete in the UFC for years. And this is my first fanpost, so take it easy ;)
Clint Hester – I’ve found a surprising amount of tape on ‘Headbussa’. Throughout the tape of his boxing, muay thai, and MMA fights there is definitely a trend. Hester’s a physical specimen who regularly weighed in as a 199 pound cruiserweight in boxing. He uses his size well in all aspects, switching between flicking jabs with his length and throwing heaters with bad intention. He also seems to at the very least have some comfort level with grappling too as evidenced by the takedowns sprinkled throughout his MMA career. If there is a downside though, he definitely is an all-out offensive type of guy. He is sound defensively when he’s fighting with his head, but when he attacks he completely drops his guard, and he’s been rocked in multiple fights as evidence, though his cardio aided him in quickly recovering.
Dylan Andrews – From what I’ve gathered from the tape on the New Zealander, he likes to throw. He’s a typical sprawl and brawler who is very active in scrambling out of and up from takedowns. Though he is predominantly a stand up fighter, he does have decent technique and is very calm, maybe to a fault. He waits for his opponent and works off of whatever they do. His cardio is decent, but not great from what I’ve seen, and he listens to his corner’s instructions very well. His wins are mainly all knockouts, with a few gimme submissions (RNCs) sprinkled in. He’s lost three times by submission, and once by TKO to Brian Ebersole.
Luke Barnatt – The 6’6" first overall pick from Britain, ‘Bigslow’ has only been pro for a little over a year. He’s definitely got a pattern. Jab, clinch, trip, back mount, RNC is his typical M.O. From the outside he is solid at using his jab to strike from range. Earlier in his career he was susceptible to bull rushes when his opponent closes the distance. It remains to be seen if he’s fixed that, but that could end up to be a problem. He relies on clinch trips to get his takedowns, and when he does get it down he doesn’t necessarily impress, instead sticking to positional basics to eventually work out a submission. He is 5-0, but from everything I’ve seen I don’t agree with Chael’s first pick at all.
Kevin Casey – ‘King’ Casey is the Rickson Gracie black belt, and he fights like one. Earlier in his career his standup consisted of Gracie-style stomp kicks and winging punched as a smokescreen to clinch. He has since moved to train with Rafael Cordeiro, and the improvement is very evident in his two fights since. While it still serves as a means to clinch, it is much technically better. He was TKO’d by both of the high level fighters he’s fought (Minowaman and Matt Lindland) though. He is stubborn about getting the takedown once he gets the clinch though, which has also served him well when he feels uncomfortable standing, and can be really sneaky with mixing up traditional singles with trips and slams, letting him do what he as a Gracie black belt is meant to do.
Adam Cella – Cella is a 4-0 fighter representing Finney’s HIT squad. There’s not a ton of tape on the young fighter, but what there is isn’t hugely impressive. He’s not great anywhere, and his stand up technique is terribly sloppy. He gets banged around a lot, but excels at pulling the win out through grittiness and plain outlasting his opponent. On the regional circuit that has earned him an undefeated record, though when matched with the killers on this season I expect him to wash out pretty quickly. His first three opponents’ records combined is 0-6 to speak for his strength of schedule.
Zak Cummings - Cummings undoubtedly plays the veteran role of this season. Holding a record of 15-3 with wins over big-show washouts Terry Martin and Rudy Bears, his only losses are to top competition (Ryan Jimmo by dec., Elvis Mutapcic by dec., and Tim Kennedy by submission). He’s got really sound fundamentals in all aspects, and transitions well between phases of combat. The Kennedy loss was handed to him because Kennedy was just a bit better everywhere, while the Jimmo loss came because he had his TD’s stuffed for 25 minutes. He doesn’t leave himself in bad positions though. While he did get an extremely quick KO on the season opener, he doesn’t necessarily have a ton of power, and instead is good at capitalizing on his opponent’s over-aggression.
Kelvin Gastelum – Gastelum is another 4-0 prospect out of Arizona. His competition pre-TUF is definitely lacking, but he has come away with four wins. His range striking is definitely his weakest skill, but at 5’9" it is somewhat expected. He likes to throw weak leg kicks mixed in with winging haymakers, and he can definitely get tagged. His specialty though is his in-fighting and ground and pound. Once he gets his opponent underneath him or against the cage, he specializes in holding them there and mixing up blows to the body and head. He doesn’t really actively look for submissions, though he does have enough knowledge to take what is given to him.
Uriah Hall – Hall is a 7-2 Thai boxer out of Tiger Schulmann’s. He really embodies a Thai boxer in MMA. He’s patient, uses the offensive clinch very well and his kicks can take somebody’s head off. The two men to beat him are Serra-Longo representatives Costa Phillipou and Chris Weidman. He stuffs takedowns very well, and evidenced by him stuffing the first three of Weidman’s before succumbing to Weidman’s ground and pound. He uses footwork to avoid strikes as well as takedowns, circling and using angles to keep his opponent guessing. My concern is though when someone gets him down he can become complacent and try and wait it out, or defend rather than trying to work back up. He has surprised me how he actively looks for takedowns as a kick boxer, and though he’s not the most active, I love how he uses it to really attack when the guy is trying to get back to his feet. He is still a really exciting prospect and should impress however long he is in the competition.
Collin Hart – ‘The Dick’ is a 4-1-1 submission specialist mentored by David Terrell. He is a surprisingly well rounded fighter, though his submission heavy record may not show that. His stand up mainly consists of hooks and body/leg kicks, and he transitions to the ground very well. He is much more creative on the ground than most of the other submission specialists on the show, sacrificing positional dominance for jumping into mount and aggressively hunting for submissions. His loss is a split decision, and his draw is with hard-nosed wrestler and season 12 TUF reject Joseph Henle, which is impressive in itself.
Robert McDaniel – ‘Bubba’ is another veteran, with his 20-6 record spread over 8 years. He trains at Jackson’s MMA, and according to Jones he is one of his main sparring partners. As with any representative of Jackson’s, he is really well rounded, though he seems to favor standing. He’s got really good size at 6’3", and uses that with his primary weapons being long, straight punches. He’s not flashy, and he doesn’t have a ton of power, instead fighting with a stick and move type style, though he can pour it on to overwhelm his opponent. He is also good at using his length to grab submissions like armbars and chokes where he can break guys with his leverage.
Jimmy Quinlan – Quinlan is the least experienced competitor this year at just 3-0. After seeing all 6 rounds of his career, I saw him throw one strike standing, which speaks volumes of his approach. He’s played the part of a dominant wrestler, shooting right from the start and slamming his opponents consistently. He’s only 3-0, but he’s done a great job at not putting himself in bad positions. When he gets them to the ground, he methodically works and slowly advances position, eventually grabbing a fight ending submission. The thing that impressed me most though is his pure strength, picking guys up and slamming them with a ton of force. He also showed some surprising veteran savvy by picking one opponent up and running across the ring to slam him in front of his corner so he could hear his coaches.
Josh Samman – Samman is another TUF competitor with great size, and comes in with a record of 9-2. I didn’t get a good look at his stand up, but that was at least in part due to his tendency to get trapped against the fence. He has a habit of fighting where his opponent wants the fight to be, but that’s not necessarily to his detriment. When he stuffs takedowns, he makes the guy regret it with constant body punches. When he is taken down, he is great at hitting submissions on transitions, but his true strength his hitting sweeps to wind up in top position. In his fight against Colby McMahon he hits a particularly beautiful one, and like many other fights, ends the fight with the crazy ground and pound. I wish I would’ve watched more tape on him prior to TUF, because the "goofy, double fisted punches" are kind of his signature fight ending move.
Gilbert Smith – Smith is tied for the shortest competitor on the show at 5’9", but has the frame of Rousimar Palhares. Though I can’t speak for his conditioning, he fights with a really explosive style, using his frame to throw every punch with full force. He’s also got a really quick shot and a good grasp of submissions as the owner of 4 submission wins in 5 total wins. He has one loss, though it is by decision. I couldn’t find much footage on him, but with the style contrast it’s interesting to see how he matches with the taller fighters because of his explosiveness.
Tor Troeng – A representative of Sweden, ‘The Hammer’ was an early favorite to win the show because of his skillset. He’s got 15 wins, with 6 KO’s, 5 submissions, and 4 decisions. His four losses were all handed to him by top competition, as with many of the other fighters, as Thales Leites, Daniel Acacio, Lucio Linhares and Mamed Khalidov all handed him losses, two by catch and two by decision. He has a skillset pretty typical of the most current wave of European fighters. He can be really aggressive with his standup, and what he lacks in technique he makes up for in aggression. Though he does have two submission losses, he does have a solid understanding of wrestling and submissions as well. Even if he doesn’t win the competition, I expect him to at the very least be a solid gatekeeper in the UFC.