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UFC signs undefeated featherweight prospects Mirsad Bektic and Chas Skelly

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The UFC has signed undefeated featherweight prospects Mirsad Bektic and Chas Skelly for a bout at UFC on Fox 11 in Orlando on April 19th.

Per multiple reports, the UFC has signed undefeated and featherweight prospects Mirsad Bektic and Chas Skelly to fight each other at the UFC on Fox 11 show in Orlando next month.

Skelly is 11-0, with two notable submission wins over current UFC featherweight Daniel Pineda. The NAIA All-American trains out of Team Takedown alongside such notables as Johny Hendricks and Jared Rosholt under the tutelage of Marc Laimon and Steven Wright, so it's safe to say that he has access to excellent wrestling and coaching. Unfortunately, his career to this point has been badly hampered by injuries: he spent two full years on the sidelines, between 2010 and 2012, while recovering from a nasty foot injury. On the other hand, these gaps in his career might have been a blessing in disguise. He fought several times in Bellator, most recently in June of last year, and was on track to sign an exclusive deal (he was actually set to fight current WSOF featherweight champion Georgi Karakhanyan) when the injury struck.

As you might expect, Skelly's game is heavily predicated on his wrestling base. His long and lanky frame gives him great leverage in tight, and he uses it to full advantage on his takedowns and for clinch fighting. Moreover, he's one of the few wrestlers who has done an excellent job of integrating his takedowns with a strong, technical top game. Once he gets on top, he's hard to shake, with a heavy base and good control; while Skelly doesn't have the most powerful ground striking, he weaves it in well with his guard passes and surprisingly polished submission game. He's particularly adept at getting to his opponent's back. If there's a weakness in Skelly's game, however, it's his striking. He's not particularly fast or powerful on the feet, occasionally seeming downright awkward, and his combination striking is limited at best. It's safe to say that there's substantial room for improvement.

Bektic, a product of American Top Team, is one of the top prospects in the division. In fact, I'd argue that he's the top prospect (regardless of weight class) in all of MMA, and I was quite comfortable placing him in the top slot of my Searching for Future Champions prospect report. The 22-year old immigrant from war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina is one of the most physically overwhelming young fighters I've ever seen: he doesn't so much beat his opponents as pound them into a bloody pulp, and his unchecked aggressiveness, athleticism, and brute strength are married to clever strategy and fantastic phase-shifting instincts. Check out the full report, with video, in-depth technical analysis, and GIFs here.

For all the talk about "MMA natives" comprising the next generation of up-and-coming fighters, they're still an exceptionally rare commodity. Bektic is one of them. Every aspect of his game flows neatly into the next: his explosive, technical forward movement drives his opponents to the cage, and he likes to fire off hard 1-2s before ducking under for big double-leg takedowns. His top game is exceptionally violent, but also features excellent guard passes, a heavy base, and a developing submission game.

Given Skelly's wrestling base, this could be a tough matchup for Bektic, who likes to go to work from top position. On the other hand, he's an infinitely more dynamic athlete and much more well rounded, though his skill sets aren't particularly deep given his inexperience. This is a great pair of signings and a potentially dynamite fight, with the winner emerging as one of the best young prospects at 145.