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World MMA Heavyweight Scouting Report: #9 - Nick Gaston

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At #9 on the 2011 World MMA Scouting Report, heavyweight Nick Gaston (4-0-0-1) takes his place as a youthful 25-year-old rising prospect with a well-rounded skill-set and some notoriety as one of MTV's Bully Beatdown fighters. The Ohio-native has a vast background in wrestling and boxing, but he also possesses the athletic gifts that once garnered him interest from collegiate football programs. After failed attempts at making it big on the gridiron and in the boxing ring, Gaston has found success in mixed martial arts.

Offensive Skills
: "AfroZilla" and "Gorilla in the Mist" are nicknames that give fans a hint at what they are about to witness when Gaston steps into the cage. At 6'4", 255 lbs., he's one of the larger heavyweights in the regional scene who has surprisingly well-rounded, proven skills inside the cage. Stemming from a base in wrestling and boxing, Gaston has become a versatile fighter, supplementing both of those bases with destructive Muay Thai and a solid submission game. In four career bouts, he's dominated the opposition in all areas, hopefully hinting that he needs to make the step up in competition soon.

Defensive Skills: Gaston's boxing background gives him an advantage on the feet against most punchers, mainly because he has an idea of how to use the bob and weave effectively along with keeping his hands high during incoming flurries. In most of his fights, he's simply been the bigger, stronger, more aggressive fighter, relying solely on his offensive output to fell opponents versus remaining defensive-minded and countering. That works right now against opponents who are visibly intimidated by Gaston's size, but he'll need to hone his defensive tactics on the feet and ground as he progresses to deal with guys who will match his size.

Progression: Gaston doesn't have enough professional experience to suggest he's making strides in his progression. In four fights, we've seen the same tale unfold; Gaston destroying his opposition. But that isn't indicative of a fighter who isn't improving. Gaston entered the sport with a solid base in both boxing and wrestling, giving him an advantage over 90% of the heavyweight talent. Once we see him pushed to his limits against better opposition, it should reveal the areas he'll need to improve greatly.

Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight
#1 - Eduardo Dantas
#2 - Farkhad Sharipov
#3 - Jimmie Rivera
#4 - Yusup Saadulaev
#5 - John Lineker
#6 - Adrian Wooley
#7 - Rodrigo Lima
#8 - Tommy Vargas
#9 - Mike Easton
#10 - Denis Puric
#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 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
#9 - Nick Gaston
#10 - Mark Potter


Environment: Gaston trains with a combination of lesser known camps and trainers. He's been connected with Muay Thai coach Aaron Boggs at 8+8 Striking Systems and BJJ and Judo black belt Arthur Ruff at Ruff House BJJ, both in the Columbus, Ohio area. Ruff House has attracted notable fighters Matt Brown and Luke Zachrich to their gym in the past. He previously trained under Buster Douglas' boxing trainer John Johnson during his days as a walk-on football player at Ohio State.

Potential: Gaston likely deserves a bump up in our rankings a bit, but his opposition doesn't stack up against some of the higher-ranked fighters in our countdown. That isn't a knock on his progression however. He's consistently fought better competition over his time as a professional.

Skill-wise, Gaston has all the tools to be a UFC-caliber fighter. Well-rounded and powerful, his diverse skill-set should continue to give him success on the regional level. With the shallowness of the heavyweight talent pool, it wouldn't surprise me to see him signed with the UFC by the year's end, but I think he may suffer from a lack of fights as he's a dominant rising star that no one wants to face.


Nick Gaston vs. Josh Watson
Nick Gaston vs. Darrill Schoonover
Nick Gaston vs. Mike Guidry