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2015 Bloody Elbow MMA Scouting Report #5 Middleweight: Oskar Piechota

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T.P. Grant and Zane Simon name their #5 Middleweight prospect, a Polish grappling prodigy.

The Bloody Elbow Scouting report is well underway for 2015. We've already covered Welterweight, Light Heavyweight, and Featherweight, and now Zane and I are turning our attention to Middleweight. At this point Zane and I have scouted upwards of 500 fighters and watched well over 2,000 regional MMA fights and we are still going strong!

If you want to see the fruits of that labor, scroll on down to the table for links to every scouting report we've published or tune into the MMA Prospectus show on Fridays live on Google Hangouts or check out the posts of the show on Bloody Elbow on Saturdays. For details on what makes a fighter a prospect and how Zane and I grade out prospects check out the Methodology post.

Let's take a look at the next Middleweight!

#5 - Oskar Piechota

Record: 6-0-1 Height: 6'0" Age: 25 Years Pro: 5

Country: Poland Team: Piranha Grappling Team Base: BJJ

Osker Piechota is a fast rising jiu jitsu star out of Poland who has been tearing up the European grappling scene. A brown belt at a Robert Drysdale affiliate, Piechota collected Silver at the European ADCC Championships and won the trails to get into the 2013 ADCCs held in Beijing, China. There Piechota picked up an extremely impressive win, upsetting defending Absolute champion Vinny Magalhaes in the first round of the openweight bracket on points. Piechota has been fighting MMA since 2011, collecting wins on the Polish regional scene. He already has one fight in 2015 and he just missed winning the first European Trials for the 2015 ADCCs held back in October. It is possible he is focusing his training on the upcoming 2nd ADCC European qualifiers in May set to take place in Finland.

Strengths

T.P. Grant: Shouldn't really come as a shock that this kid can really grapple. On the mat he has run circles around his opposition in MMA and even in professional grappling he is able to compete on the elite level. What he lacks in technical ability, which isn't very much, he can more than make up with athletic ability. He is pretty solid in the clinch and has a few trip takedowns he clearly favors in getting guys down on to the mat. Once on the mat Piechota has an excellent flow to his grappling. He has an excellent guard, a good leg attack sequence, and good guard passes. Piechota's favorite attack is a very MMA adapted front head lock series on opponents, chaining d'arce and anaconda chokes with Japanese and Peruvian neckties.

His striking is actually fairly good, largely based on offense coming from his hands, which he does appear to throw on balance and with decent power and accuracy. Piechota likely will end up dropping a weightclass if he moves forward with his MMA career, but he is clearly a good athlete, aggressive and is an outstanding grappler.

Zane Simon: It's rare that I see a fighter with Piechota's skill set and think "that guy could be a top flight talent." In part, that's a testament to Piechota's athletic ability, but it also speaks to just how well honed his technical skills are. Unlike a lot of European grappler-strikers, Piechota is much less reliant on a range kicking game for functional offense while standing. This allows him much better control of distance as, while he is able to work from the outside and kick at range, he is at his best boxing inside or in the clinch. It's much more natural fit for getting takedowns through underhooks and the body lock, with less reliance on shooting from the outside.

Once on the ground, Piechota's game really shines. He has a great, natural feel of position and danger. It can make his takedown defense look a bit lackluster here and there, but it has more to do with a comfort in all areas of grappling, and a sense of positional dominance, than it does a real lack of fundamentals. As T.P. referenced above, his front headlock sequencing is fantastic, and it's the kind of skill that will serve him exceptionally well at all levels of the game. Piechota is one of the rare grapple focused (non-wrestling) fighters that I would consider being a real threat to the top of the division.

Points of Development

T.P. Grant: Piechota's wrestling isn't really all that bad, but it also isn't outstanding which is normally a concern with excellent mat fighters. Piechota's biggest problem currently is that he seems to operate either in grappler-mode or in striker-mode. He doesn't really have phase-shifting in his game yet and the different aspects of his MMA game seem very much separated from each other rather than flowing into one another.

This is something that could come with time, but he seems somewhat caught between grappling and MMA at this point. It seems clear he is making an effort at making the 2015 ADCCs, if he does qualify means he'll likely be out of MMA action until the late fall or early winter. And while he preformed well at the last ADCCs, he had no answer the inverted guard game of Keenan Cornelius, who knocked Piechota out of both the -88kg bracket and the Absolute bracket. The time Piechota devotes to solving that puzzle is time not spent on his MMA craft. Piechota is a stud prospect in the grappling world as well and could do very well there. But to reach his full potential in MMA he'll need to put his full attention into that sport.

Zane Simon: The idea of "modes" and the inability to switch between them is a pretty common problem on the Polish MMA scene, and one of the reasons that we've had trouble finding Polish prospects that we think will do really well against more international/better competition. Piechota's game definitely could use some rounding out in that sense, more focus on tying his kickboxing to his grappling. Part of that would mean an improvement in wrestling, but that's not necessarily the be all to end all. More of a focus on paying attention to position and balance when striking and how those can be used to set up strong takedowns (much like Demian Maia's) would be a big help.

Otherwise, I'll admit, I'm not as concerned about the two-sport distraction as T.P. It's very hard to know just when an athlete's focus is going to shift more heavily from one sport to another. It could hinder him down the road, or it could just be a bit of a distraction until his MMA career really starts making him money. Only time will tell.

Overall Projection

Oskar Piechota is very reminiscent of Gunnar Nelson, a prodigy grappler with a great amount of physical talent, a deep skill base despite being very young and lack of experience relative to other prospects with a similar number of years in the sport. This means Piechota's aging curve is likely going to be much longer than average MMA fighters, but it also means his development curve might be slowed as well.  Gunnar Nelson hummed along collecting easy wins until he hit Top 15 competition in his weightclass and faced a far more experienced fighter in Rick Story, who has a great deal of MMA acumen to his game.

On the highest possible end Piechota could be a lesser version of Fabrcio Werdum if he fills in all his skills sets and continues to develop: a good and dangerous striker on the feet, a feared grappler, but not much a wrestler, fighting against other elite fighters in his weightclass. The lower end for Piechota could look more like Leo Santos, again a feared grappler and high level fighter to be sure, but not a title contender .

Stay tuned for the #4 Middleweight coming up next! 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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EXTRA!
#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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#6. Svirid
#7. Antigulov
#8. Todhunter
#9. Gavrilovic
#10. Nunes
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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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EXTRA!