I keep saying that heavyweight MMA is a weird place, it's own special deal; a world in which the normal laws of MMA talent acquisition and scouting don't really apply. It's signings like this that confirm that world view to me. Because, by any sensible measure, the UFC's signing of Richard Odoms is weird. But, for heavyweight MMA, it's normal. Or at least near enough. His signing was announced by the UFC on Thursday with the fight booking between Odoms and Ruslan Magomedov at UFC 177.
Who is Richard Odoms?
"The Black Eagle" as he is known, is a 39 year old heavyweight fighting out of RodrigoPinheiroBJJ along with Pete Spratt's Muay Thai camp down in San Antonio, Texas. He comes to the UFC with a 8-1 record gained fighting reasonably decent competition. His only loss came to current UFC heavyweight Jared Rosholt in a hard fought three round decision where Odoms sustained a large cut to his head and apparently a broken ankle as well. Otherwise, he has wins over D.J. Linderman and Darrill Schoonover among a range of decent regional talent. It's a decent record for an up and coming fighter, but admittedly, a little light for someone who is likely already past their physical prime. Alongside his MMA career, Odoms has a 5-0 boxing record, compiled entirely in 2003. Odoms is also a police officer, alongside his career in the cage.
What you should expect:
Odoms throws pawing strikes and kicks from the outside, looking for opportunities to load up on harder shots, or get into the clinch and cage control. While he still packs a lot of power in even small shots, his tentativeness on the outside, does make him a pretty easy target for well timed takedowns, as he tends to stand tall. When he does find a comfortable rhythm, Odoms tends to throw kicks with regularity and speed. His hands, are another matter. Punches tend to come as big, telegraphed sweeping strikes; huge hooks and uppercuts that opponents can see coming, but are powerful enough to do serious damage if they land. Essentially, he's the kind of competent heavyweight brawler that is dangerous in any fight, but will have trouble winning consistently with his current skill set.
What this means for his debut:
Mostly, bad things. Ruslan Magomedov may not put much power in his punches, but he's a nicely technical kickboxer with good footwork, who's made a career out of out hustling and outpoint slower fighters. And standing at 6' 5" as he does, he's not in much danger to get out muscled by Odoms, who still looks pretty unpolished in his wrestling game. Essentially, because Magomedov will likely let Odoms hang around, there's always a possibility that he lands one big strike, but I wouldn't bet on it.
To get us better acquainted, here's his last bout against D.J. Linderman. (Bout starts at about 00:86:00)