Finally it looks like Joe Silva and crew have heeded the calls for more light heavyweight talent as they pickup longtime MMA vet (and still surprisingly young prospect) Hans Stringer. Stringer will make his way to the UFC in one of the strangest methods in recent memory; Stringer enters the UFC after his most recent performance at WSOF 6, against Francisco France, in which he earned a unanimous decision draw. The draw was due to a point taken for multiple groin shots from Stringer on his opponent in a fight that he otherwise lead to a 29-28 scorecard, causing the judges to award 28-28s across the board.
It's the first time in a long time that I can remember a UFC fighter getting a contract without winning his most recent fight (excluding TUF contestants). It's also a little troubling as it rewards someone for fouling his way out of a victory. Eventually it speaks to the complete lack of depth at 205 and the fact that at 26, and with a 21-5-3 record under his belt, Stringer is one of the best available light heavyweights on the open market. Combate reports that Stringer will make his UFC debut against Francimar Barroso at UFC Fight Night Natal, on March 23.
Apart from his youth and his record, Stringer is also a part of the resurgent Blackzilian training camp, working alongside Eddie Alvarez, Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, and Vitor Belfort (among many others). Despite only being 26 years of age, he's already 8 years in to his career and has fought the likes of Attila Vegh, Krzystof Kulak, Dion Staring, and Igor Araujo. Apart from his recent draw, Stringer has won his last four fights, all against regional European competition.
Watching Stringer fight, he's something of a controlling grinder. He has decent, but not excellent boxing which largely serves as his avenue to get the fight in to the clinch. Once in the clinch his first instinct is to look for the takedown, usually dropping for the double or single leg, but mixing in body lock throws and trips if his initial attempts are stifled. Unfortunately for him, he's not an especially adept takedown artist and mostly tries to out hulk his competition. He looks like he's gotten stronger recently which helps with that, but still isn't a great replacement for skill. He has some decent clinch knees and dirty boxing, but those tools are mostly applied to back opponents into the cage for grinding position. On the ground he's solid. He has decent ground and pound and a solid knowledge of position and transitional grappling. He's not electric, but he probably won't be easily handled either, if the fight hits the mat.
Honestly, Stringer is a pretty comparable image of Barroso with a few less key striking tools at his disposal. That may be enough to lose him his first fight, but it should be a pretty even contest. For a closer look at Stringer here's one of his recent fights against Zsolt Balla at Beast of the East:
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