The UFC's talent acquisition program has slowed a bit in recent months. Down from signing 25-30 fighters a month, the UFC is on a much more normal path of around 15 fighters. This last week has seen two new faces arrive on their books. South African middleweight and EFCA champion Garreth McLellan is expected to make his debut for the UFC some time in March. As first reported by Sport 24, McLellan has signed a 6 fight deal with the UFC. No debut opponent has been named at this time. Alongside his signing comes a new woman bantamweight, Marion Reneau. Her signing was made public by the UFC, with her addition to their active roster. No details are known as to her debut date or opponent. So...
Who is Garreth McLellan?
"Soldierboy" as he is otherwise known, is a 32-year old middleweight, training out of FIght Fit Militia in South Africa. There he trains alongside top regional prospects Demarte Pena and Boyd Allen, working under Norman Wessels. McLellan will enter the UFC with a 12-2 professional record, compiled almost entirely fighting for EFCA in South Africa. Considering the circuit he's fighting on, McLellan's record is really fairly solid. Most of his opponents have records hovering around .500, but he's beat a few fighters on the rise as well. He's also avenged his only two career losses and has 11 wins by stoppage with 9 coming by submission. Outside his career in MMA, McLellan has a background as an amateur rugby player, and started training to fight as a way to get in better shape to go pro.
What you should expect:
McLellan is really solid physical specimen, and when he has the advantage of position, uses his strength and control to good effect. He's not a notably high output striker, standing, tending to default to kicks from the outside, before driving in to the clinch behind big single punches. His takedown game (at least in the past) has been mostly centered around the body lock and his ability to get trips and throws. Unfortunately this makes him very hit or miss in his ability to not only get the takedown, but maintain control, and he's prone to ending up on the bottom from a missed throw attempt. He's a decent grappler and scrambler, so it's not devastating, but against great top control fighters could be a real problem. When he is able to get top control, he has really powerful aggressive ground and pound, which helps him open up advantageous positions for his aggressive submission game. Still, he can be very submission before position oriented and doesn't maintain control especially well.
Who is Marion Reneau?
"Moe Moe" is a 37-year old fighter training out of Elite Team, alongside Cody Gibson and Cain Carrizosa under Doug Marshall. She comes to the UFC with a 4-1 record as a pro, fighting in RFA, Tachi Palace, and Warriors Cage. Outside of her first pro fight, a win over Chantalle Castellanos, Reneau has yet to face any serious competition, including a loss to Julia Avila, in Avila's pro debut. However this isn't especially notable, given the general lack of depth in the upper weight divisions of women's MMA. Reneau has yet to see a decision in any of her wins, with three KOs and a submission. Outside of her MMA career, she has a brown belt in BJJ, and won gold at the IBJJF Pan Ams in the purple belt division in 2013. Most recently, she was expected to take on Irene Aldana at Invicta FC 10, but a bronchial infection put Aldana in the hospital, scrapping the bout, and sending Reneau in the UFC's direction.
What you should expect:
Standing, Reneau is a stalking striker who likes to work in volume. She tends to pace opponents down, judged the distance with kicks and then swarm with strike combinations. She's not especially technical with her hands, but hits hard and throws quickly. If she can drive her opponent into the clinch, she's got a decent trip and dump takdown game. Once she's in top control, she's very good at establishing position and controlling her opponent, while working solid ground and pound and submissions. Essentially, Reneau looks like a pretty plus athlete for the women's division, with a very solid BJJ top game. But she uses her athleticism and physicality well on her feet to put opponents in danger and break down their defense. It's hard to say how that style will hold up against more athletic and technically sound strikers. In the past, she's struggled a lot when she can't get the takedown or early stoppage.
To get us better acquainted, here's her fight with Julia Avila from 2012: