clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2015 Bloody Elbow World Scouting Report: Welterweight EXTRA!

New, 22 comments

A look at all the rest of the quality welterweights that didn't make the cut for our top 10.

So, just last week, T.P. Grant and I finished up the first division in our long crawl toward a complete look at MMA prospects in 2015. We narrowed a list of 70 prospective welterweights down to 10 and gave an in-depth breakdown of each and every one of them. Now it's time for the rest. All those guys that just almost made the list, but for one reason or another slid off it.

For some fighters, it's that the potential gaps in their overall game seem too big to overcome easily. It's hard to imagine a fighter, no matter how good an athlete, becoming a really solid wrestler, when their takedown defense is essentially non-existent. For others, it's not that they have any major skill gaps, but that their perceived athletic advantage over their opponents is slim enough that it's hard to imagine them competing against the division's top fighters no matter how much they continue to develop. And for some, we just liked ten other fighters more. So, without further ado...

The Near Misses

Nicolas Dalby (Age: 29 Record: 12-0 Camp: Rumble Sports Country: Denmark) - Dalby's game is all about speed and angles. He's an aggressive kicker and works at a pretty healthy pace, often keeping his opponents on their back foot with a continuous dose of leg and body kicks. When he looks to step into the pocket and box, he's got quick, sharp form, but can get hit a bit on the end of combinations. In general, he doesn't always seem to have great command of timing or distance on his boxing. Fortunately for him, he seems to have solid footwork, endless cardio, and a great chin, which means he's always apt to give himself time to find his rhythm.

As for the grappling aspects of his game, Dalby has shown himself to be pretty great in the clinch, but not always the best counter-wrestler. Fighters willing to take on his strong clinch offense have been able to repeatedly get him to the ground without too much trouble. His defensive and offensive grappling seem decent, and he scrambles well when given the chance, so these aren't huge problems, but could cause him to drop rounds against aggressive wrestlers. His lack of great wrestling is especially troublesome to me as he doesn't seem to be the most powerful striker in the world, and will likely give most high-end opponents a lot of time to work.

Sergey Khandozhko (Age: 22 Record: 20-1-1 Camp: Fight Club No. 1 Country: Russia) - Frankly, few fighters came as close to making the top 10 as Sergey Khandozhko. He was almost completely a Muay Thai striker early in his career but has been evolving steadily and efficiently under a continuous fight schedule. His lone loss comes against one of our top prospects, Eduard Vartanyan, via TKO, but since then he's won four straight. Obviously, he can strike and works in volume at range. To accompany that, he's developed a really good clinch game and has started adding in trip and drag takedowns to go with his inside striking offense. His top game is positionally solid, if unimaginative, although he really benefited from bad reffing in his most recent bout.

The biggest flaws in Khandozhko's game are that, while he's become a much better counter wrestler, he's still very much a come-forward striker, and often walks himself out of range, where he has an advantage. That's not helped by the fact that his footwork is not always on-point, either offensively or defensively. Once he's on the inside and/or on the ground, his game is more grinding than exciting and his submission grappling can be really sloppy. Thus, the net effect is a fighter who takes himself out of position to do his best work. If he can figure out how to get in and out of the pocket efficiently and become a more defensively sound striker, he could be a real solid top talent.

Will Galvao (Age: ? Record: 4-1 Camp: Nova Uniao Country: Brazil) - One of the big reasons that Will Galvao didn't end up on our scouting report is simply, that we have no idea how old he is. He could be 25, he could be 38. It doesn't help that he has one of those faces that just doesn't look young. Even the fight videos we could find didn't know how old he was, showing an N/A for "Idade." Beyond that, Galvao looks to have a vicious Muay Thai game at range and a great grappling game to go with it.

So: fresh fighter, a big camp, great game. What's missing? Wrestling and clinch fighting. Galvao works great at distance and well on the ground, but he's not a fantastic infighter, and can be a pretty abysmally poor wrestler. Nova Uniao has a reputation for filling in those gaps, so there's a very real chance he evolves into a much more complete striker, but this early in his career it's hard to tell. And if "this early in his career" is actually late in his athletic career, the chances of him going on to big success are low.

Probable Call-ups

Walter Gahadza (Age: 26 Record: 14-0 Camp: Sure Grip Vale Tudo Country: England) - Few fighters embody the idea of potential quite like Walter Gahadza. His 14-0 record is built mostly against a very low caliber of competition, and while he's obviously an amazing athlete, his technical game has suffered from his lack of testing. Essentially, he seems to fight under the Baroni-esque ideology, of: why do anything 50%, when you can do it 250%? Why take a fighter down, when you can pick them up and slam them, why throw a soft 1-2 when you can wing hooks at 100 mph? As he's taken steps up in competition, those dominant finishes that that mindset creates have been harder to find.

His upcoming bout against Mickael Lebout will probably be a big turning point for both fighters. It's the kind of fight Gahadza could win in 30 seconds or lose over 3 rounds. He's faster, stronger, and more dynamic than Lebout. But, he rarely throws more than one big shot at a time, has inefficient wrestling, and fights under the specter of a limited gas tank. Against a crafty, hard-headed vet like the Frenchman, that could spell disaster.

Steve Montgomery (Age: 23 Record: 8-2 Camp: ATT Country: USA) - Montgomery looks to be the spitting image of the UFC's classic 3-dimensional fighter... complete with "Tennessee Waterfall." He's been rising through the ranks of Titan FC recently, where he just took out Brock Jardine with a flying knee. That alone probably means that he's on the UFC's short list for injury call-ups. At heart, Montgomery is a light-on-his-feet kickboxer who really does his best work in the clinch. Coupled with great cardio and a really solid, persistent wrestling game, Montgomery is primed to be a tough out for anyone.

The big problem right now for Montgomery is his tendency to overreach his punches and leave his head out at the end of his lanky 6' 4" frame. It's only cost him once, so far, in an exhibition bout against the hard punching Cristiano Souza for Bellator's Fight Master, but it's still an area that needs improving. If he can tighten up that part of his game, Montgomery could make himself a tough matchup in the UFC. At the very least, he seems to be headed for a Seth Baczynski-esque skill set.

Ryan Dickson (Age: 25 Record: 10-2 Camp: Joslin MMA Country: Canada) - If there's anything Canada tends to produce in combat sports, it's well-rounded welterweight fighters. While he's only been fighting since 2011, it already feels like Dickson has been up and down the Canadian regional circuit. His only losses so far come to TUF competitor (and fellow prospect) Michael Hill and super athletic UFC welterweight Alex Garcia. His striking game is all-around solid, if a bit basic, and he supplements it with a grinding, wrestling game. At the base is, perhaps his best skill, a patient and studied grappling game. He's very good at establishing and advancing position in search of submission, and that's really the root of his talents.

The big concern is that he doesn't really seem to have a second gear. Dickson isn't a high-output striker or a great technical wrestler, and he has yet to show that big, next level burst to really throw opponents out of their comfort zone and change a fight quickly. Given time and space to work, Dickson's a very well rounded fighter, and he might be able to turn that into a solid career in the UFC or Bellator, but without extra aggression, it's hard to see him breaking into the elite.

Curtis Millender (Age: 27 Record: 7-0 Camp: UFC Gym Fullerton Country: USA) - Unless the UFC is just dramatically out of touch with it's own business ventures, Curtis Millender has got to be knocking on the door of a contract for the big show. The big, rangy welterweight started his athletic career as a high school wrestler. Eventually, he's become more of a kickboxer than anything, but occasionally you can see flashes of a takedown game. His level of competition is about what you'd expect from a fighter in his first two years as a pro. Mostly .500 fighters, with a nice win over Dominic Waters just this summer.

Otherwise, Millender has really developed a fundamentally solid, powerful striking game, and has some decent scrambling ability, but the rest of skills lag. His wrestling, offensively, is more power slams than technique, and defensively revolves around his ability to sprawl, neither of which are likely to hold up against better competition. His ground game mostly consists of making sure he gets back to his feet. It's strange to think that he may need to get out of the UFC Gym to develop a better MMA skill set, but that's probably the reality.

Sergio de Fatima (Age: 26 Record: 10-1 Camp: Chute Boxe Country: Brazil) - Sergio de Fatima is your classic, raw Chute Boxe product, in the Chute Boxe revitalization. Quietly, Chute Boxe has been turning out good prospects again, many of these guys aren't coming from the classic central camp, but a smaller off-shoot. However, they're showing up in the UFC with decent, powerful striking and a serviceable all-around game; Felipe Arantes, Leonardo Mafra, and Lucas Martins are all prototypical modern Chute Boxe Fighters. De Fatima is building in that mold. And while he's decidedly not a technical marvel, he has huge, huge power in his hands.

Everywhere else needs a ton of work. His defensive wrestling is pretty nonexistent, and his grappling is wild. At the moment, he's getting by on serviceable striking technique and being a really powerful athlete. He's also fighting a ton, 7-0 this year. And that's a good thing for his development. If Chute Boxe can continue to mold him into a more technical fighter, there's a good chance we see him in the UFC, and maybe even finding some decent success... maybe.

The Rest

Mickael Lebout (Age: 27 Record: 12-3-1 (1 NC) Camp: Crossfight Country: France) - I'll be honest, I'd be a little surprised if Lebout ever quite makes it off the European scene. He's part of a cadre of decent young fighters, including Davy Gallon, Johan Vanttinen, Glenn Sparv, and Kai Puolakka who are all having good success and have ended up facing one another at various points in their careers. Of all of them, and despite his losses, I think Lebout has the best chance to go on to bigger things. That may not be a huge chance, but he's a scrappy striker, with solid defense (rarely gets hit clean) an aggressive wrestler and an exciting grappler.

Accompanying that, he seems to have a really solid chin and very good cardio. He's also fighting a ton. He's already 5-0 this year and is scheduled to face Walter Gahadza next month. No question Gahadza is a much better athlete, but he's also really unpolished. If Lebout can win that fight, he may punch his ticket to a bigger show. And if he can move to a bigger camp, he may be the able to get into a Mike Pyle sort of action fighter role. His biggest gap right now is defensive wrestling, and I can't see him effectively patching that up training only in France.

Djamil Chan (Age: 24 Record: 9-2  Camp: Oosterban Gym Country: The Netherlands) - He's big, he's rangy, he's aggressive, and he hits like a truck. Djamil Chan brings serious Wanderlei Silva violence with him into the cage, and his fights are often must-watch entertainment. If he feels like he has the definitive edge over his competition, he will go all out in his pursuit of the stoppage. He throws a nice variety of strikes to all levels and puts power in all of them. A fan favorite action fighter, if ever there was one.

Of course, he doesn't really do anything else though. The sprawl and brawl is Djamil Chan, and his offense can get pretty wild, as he's willing to swing way out over his feet to land big strikes. His wrestling defense is really basic, and most of his ground game revolves around stalling to get back to his feet or throwing up arm bars to create a scramble. In a nice bit of craftiness against Samir al Mansouri, below, he even hooked his opponents glove to drag himself back to standing. It's hard not to love watching Chan fight, but it's hard not to see the flaws, too.

Imanali Gamzathanov (Age: 25 Record: 7-2 Camp: Champion Country: Russia) - Gamzathanov ended up taking 2013 off for one reason or another, and then stormed back with a win over Ivica Truscek (Dalby's two-time opponent). He's a somewhat smallish welterweight and would probably be best served going to lightweight, as his biggest problem generally appears to be a lack of power. He connects well on his strikes, wrestles well, and has a pretty safe, control based ground game, but he's just not putting opponents away.

There's nothing I really don't like about Gamzathanov from a technical standpoint. Unusually for a Caucasus fighter, he's got a more classic, boxing centric striking offense, but he throws kicks well and with power. He could really stand to up his output some, but that gets into the problems he has with his physical dominance over his opposition. It's hard to get a read on Gamzathanov's ceiling until he drops a division.

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

Flyweight Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1. Usman
#2. Mustafaev
#3. Nurmagomedov
#4. Khaliev
#5. Scope
#6. Vartanyan
#7. Kadestam
#8. Piraev
#9. Amosov
#10. Tokov
EXTRA!
Middleweight L. Heayvweight Heavyweight W. Strawweight W. Bantamweight
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!
#1.
#2.
#3.
#4.
#5.
#6.
#7.
#8.
#9.
#10.
EXTRA!

Stay tuned for the Light Heavyweight division, coming out soon. To look up other articles in this series check out the handy table above. For comments, questions or suggestions head down to the comment line or reach out to T.P. and Zane on Twitter: @TP_Grant and @TheZaneSimon