The heat between the UFC and Bellator may be high, but the doors between the two are actually pretty wide open, at least for fighters willing to read their contracts very carefully. More than ever we've seen Bellator picking up former UFC talent over the last year (a PPV with Rampage and Tito on it is a great reminder of that) and, while not as obvious, the UFC has started to pick off the occasional Bellator fighter who's been able to wait out the matching term of his contract, or secure his unconditional release. That appears to be the boat that Josh Shockley is in as his signing to the UFC was announced on Friday. He'll be facing off against another newcomer, Jason Saggo at UFC 174 in Vancouver. MMAJunkie had the initial report.
Who is Josh Shockley?
A member of Duneland Vale Tudo, the home of Eddie WIneland and Darren Elkins, 24-year old Josh Shockley has a bit more experience on him than his 11-2 record belies. A four time Bellator vet, Shockley has wins over Eric Moon and Shamar Bailey and his only two losses, to Toby Imada and Keith Schneider, to account for his time in the Viacom promotion. Outside his work on bigger stages, wins over Micah Miller (brother of Cole), Mike Cannon, and Vener Galiev make his a pretty strong resume for a relatively unknown fighter. His loss to Schneider is a bit of a blemish, but it shouldn't cast too harsh a light on what is otherwise a lot of quality wins.
What you should expect:
Admittedly, there isn't a lot of recent footage to be watched on Josh Shockley. But, from what I've seen from him lately, he very much appears to be a grappling and submission oriented fighter. Standing, he likes to show a lefthook/jab consistently, although it appears to mostly serve as a distraction to keep opponents guard high for a takedown opportunity, and to disguise a straight right hand. His footwork is very hit and miss and all told, his standup is pretty wooden.
On the ground he appears to be an exceptionally heavy grappler, choosing to maintain position and control over creating striking opportunities. He looks very solid at advancing position and at throwing on submissions in transition. His standing clinch and takedown work are somewhat of an unknown to me. What little I've seen suggests that he mostly uses his exceptionally long frame to overwhelm opponents, but that, once again, he's very adept at taking transition opportunities to grab submissions.
What this means for his debut:
This is really going to be a clash of two similarly skilled fighters. But, if I had to put money on it, I'd say that Saggo might have the advantage. His footwork is cleaner, although neither of them is much of a striker, his takedown game looks more technical (keeping in mind that I have seen very little of Shockley's takedown game) and they both have a propensity for locking up submissions on the mat. Hopefully this is a competitive and fun grappling match and doesn't end up as a really bad kickboxing stalemate.
To get us better acquainted, here's Shockley's recent bout against Mike Cannon: