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2015 Bloody Elbow MMA Scouting Report #1 Featherweight: Tom Duquesnoy

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T.P. Grant and Zane Simon take a look at one of the very best talents in all of MMA and possibly the next phenom champion in the making.

The #1 Featherweight prospect shouldn't really be much of a surprise to those who follow regional level MMA. If that statement does not include you, then you're in for a treat as the fighter featured here is arguably the best prospect in all of MMA, regardless of weight class.

Keep in mind that after this article there are still two more pieces coming out of on the Featherweight division. These EXTRA pieces will feature 10 fighters each who either just missed our list or stand out in another way. So if your favorite featherweight prospect didn't make the list don't despair and don't assume we hate them, they are very likely going to be featured in one of those pieces. After that it is on to Middleweight!

#1 - Tom Duquesnoy

Record: 9-1 (1 NC) Height: 5'7" Age: 21 Years Pro: 3

Country: France Team: Bourama Traore Base: Combat Sambo

Born in a mining city on the border of France and Belgium, Tom "Fire Kid" Duquesnoy knew from an early age he wanted to be an MMA fighter. He was inspired by old Pride FC DVDs and his role model for the sport became Fedor Emelianenko. Duquesnoy followed in Fedor's footsteps and at age twelve began to train and compete in Combat Sambo, and has won 5 French National titles in that sport.  Duquesnoy now trains with Bourama Traore, he spent time with David Baron at Kajyn team, but travels around a bit to sharpen his Muay Thai and to work his wrestling with the French national team.

Duquesnoy bounced around the central European circuit for 2 years before getting picked up by BAMMA at the end of 2013. He is currently the BAMMA Featherweight Champion, his last fight ended in a no contest due to a groin shot, but he is set to defend his title February 21st against Krzysztof Klaczek at BAMMA 18.

Strengths

T.P. Grant: I hope you are ready for some gushing, because this kid has it all. First and foremost, I ended up giving him my highest grade for athleticism. Duquesnoy very casually does highly athletic things and has outstanding speed to basically everything he does: from footwork, to hand speed, to hip movement, to his shots and scrambles. On the feet, Duquensoy has really heavy leg kicks the he uses very effectively at range. His boxing is subtle, but he can slip and land nice counters in the pocket. He has a nice lead jab and likes to throw uppercuts on the way inside to split the guard and keep opponents from changing levels on him.

Duquensoy is an outstanding wrestler, his hips are fantastic both offensively and defensively. He has the full repertoire of Sambo throws and trips from the clinch, and is very comfortable wrestling in on the lower body as well. On the mat, Duquensoy is hyper aggressive, always looking to pass guard, get to a better position, and then finish the fight.

What makes Duquesnoy really outstanding isn't that he is skilled in all phases, though he is, but it is the fact that he is an MMA native. His skills fit together seamlessly in the context of an MMA match and Duquesnoy has an extra touch of competitiveness that you see in a Jon Jones, Georges St. Pierre or Jose Aldo, he'll toss a fighter over at the bell or enter into an opponent's strength to simply prove he is better there.

Zane Simon: Be still my beating heart. Tom Duquesnoy is a prospect fully worth marking out over. He's a kid with all the tools, all the time, and all the potential to be an all-time great. Unusually for such a hot prospect, tabbing him as such almost seems too easy. Unlike Jones or Weidman or Hendricks, Duquesnoy's talent is obviously apparent at all levels. And that's not a knock on any of those fighters, fighters take time to develop; at 3 years into his pro career Duquesnoy has had more time than most. At that point, Jones was winning the LHW title, Weidman was fighting Damien Maia. So, to say that Duguesnoy is three years into his pro career, with his talent, it's not surprising he already looks like an elite fighter.

His striking is technical, fast, varied, and most importantly, aggressive. His kicks come with frightening speed and ferocity and everything he does on his feet comes with a frenetic aggression that makes him almost impossible to keep up with, even as a viewer. He's constantly feinting constantly changing angles, and constantly looking to mix distances, working seamlessly from the outside into the clinch. His takedown game is powerful and aggressive. Not only does he work trips and throws well, but he shoots with power, changing angles on his shots as he works to complete them. All of this leads to the best part of his game, his ground game. While Duquesnoy works aggressively for submissions, he does so without giving up positional dominance. It's that Renan Barao like grappling acumen, fast, powerful, and always in the right place.

Points of Development

T.P. Grant: At this point, Duquesnoy is a fully three-dimensional fighter with no clear one weakness. His development is going to come inch-by-inch because he as already finished making strides. Duquesnoy's biggest issue is that he fights like a young man, holds nothing back, and can get too aggressive at times. It cost him against Makwan Amirkhani, a fight Duquesnoy was doing quite well in but got caught in a d'arce choke during a scramble. A textbook prospect submission loss and Duquesnoy has clearly learned from it. Even then he does get excited on the ground at times and try to explode into movements and ends up leaving a lot of space for opponents to move under him. But that is a minor complaint and something that will improve with time.

Zane Simon: Flaws? FLAWS!? Duqeusnoy has no need of your human flaws... No, seriously, his game is pretty solid. As Grant mentions above he does get a bit over aggressive at times on the ground, and coming in on his feet, which can lead him to losing advantageous positions, but it rarely ends up putting him in a bad position himself, just not as good as where he was. His lone loss came to a fighter who has a very singularly dangerous talent that Duquesnoy fell into perfectly (being a technical front headlock game), but that's hardly an exploitable flaw, more the perfect mixing of an adept opponent and a fortuitous position. Duquesnoy is about as good as you can ask a young fighter to be, and he's only going to get better going forward.

Overall Projection

The sky is the limit for this kid. He spent the last few months touring the U.S. and visiting major MMA gyms, learning how high-level fighters in the U.S. train and prepare. He is known for being an extremely hard working in the gym and dedicated to his craft. Duquesnoy screams championship caliber fighter on the level of a Jose Aldo or Georges St. Pierre. Duquesnoy is pretty much UFC ready at this point, and if he wins at BAMMA 18 expect him to be in the UFC by the end of the year. When he hits that next level he very well could find himself on that phenom track where he could be fighting for the UFC Featherweight title as soon as 2017. If he stumbles, it still seems clear that Duquesnoy is a high-level talent and will competing on an elite level.

Stay tuned for the Featherweight EXTRA pieces and then it is on to Middleweight! And to look up other articles in this series check out the table below. 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

2015 Bloody Elbow Scouting Report

Flyweight Bantamweight Featherweight Lightweight Welterweight
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#1. Duquesnoy
#2. MagomedovTemirov
#3. Froes
#4. Jordan
#5. Motta
#6. Vitruk
#7. Askhabov
#8. Grundy
#9. Matmuratov
#10. Azhiev
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#1. Usman
#2. Mustafaev
#3. Nurmagomedov
#4. Khaliev
#5. Scope
#6. Vartanyan
#7. Kadestam
#8. Piraev
#9. Amosov
#10. Tokov
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#1. Mokhnatkin
#2. Martell
#3. Kurbanismailov
#4. Astakhov
#5. Ankalaev
#6. Edilov
#7. Prochazka
#8. Albrektsson
#9. Moore
#10. Gamzatov
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