It's not often that fighters come to the UFC "UFC ready" anymore, or at least not in the way that UFC ready used to mean. Most guys come in with a handful of fights, no real high level experience, and an expectation that they are going to probably take years to reach the top of the ladder, if they ever do at all. So, it's always a bit more exciting when a solid prospective talent comes through the doors having already proven that he can compete at with world class fighters. It's especially exciting when that fighter is still in his early 20s and happens to fight in one of the UFC's shallowest divisions. But that's what our own Karim Zidan was able to confirm recently:
Official: LHW prospect Abdul-Kerim Edilov, pictured with his cousin, Chechen president Kadyrov, signed with the UFC pic.twitter.com/4BFPyaD0Nj— Karim Zidan (@ZidanSports) August 5, 2015
Joining Edilov in the UFC is another light heavyweight fighter, Legacy FC vet Dan Jolly. His signing was announced by the UFC when his name was added to the official active roster on UFC.com. Most likely, Jolly is replacing the injured Sean O'Connell in Saskatoon against Misha Cirkunov. So...
Who is Abdul-Kerim Edilov?
Profiled as the #6 LHW prospect in the world by our own Bloody Elbow Scouting Report, the 23-year old cousin of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov will make his way to the UFC with a 16-4 record in MMA. He's been competing as a pro since the age of 18 and has taken on some of the best rising talent 205 lbs has to offer. With wins over Jiri Prochazka and Gadzhimurad Antigulov among a host of seasoned regional vets, there aren't many light heavyweight prospects as battle tested as Edilov. Since his last loss in April of 2013, Edilov has rolled off a ten fight unbeaten streak and looks to be building real momentum on his way to the UFC. He's training out of Akhmat MMA lately and reports are has been putting more time than ever into his career. Outside of MMA Edilov was a Moscow Sambo champion.
What you should expect:
Edilov is probably the most ready young fighter outside the UFC, who could just step in and be top 10 right away. I'm not sure how much higher he'll go than that, but he's got a couple of huge positives in his favor from the start. First off, standing 6' 3" and with a build like an NFL tight end, he's got the size to really compete at LHW. He's not a masquerading MW, who will drop down the moment his debut is over (at least, I'd be surprised if he did). The second factor going in his favor is that he's already shown himself to be very durable and tough. His only losses come by submission or decision and he was able to force a three round fight out of former M-1 champ Viktor Nemkov just two years into his career. Outside of the physical side of his game, he's a very solid wrestler with something of a classic Russian Sambo game. He throws big powerful single shots, with good accuracy and timing, darts in well behind them for body locks and can hit a variety of takedowns which he chains together well.
As his conditioning and fitness have improved notably lately, his foot speed (which used to be pretty bad) has really picked up. He's started throwing a few more complicated combinations with his hands, and is a lot better at getting in on shots from the outside. If Edilov can keep his recently found training focus it's hard to think he'll be anything other than a big factor in the UFC.
Here's his latest fight with Leonardo Gosling from back in June:
Who is Dan Jolly?
30-year old Jolly comes to the UFC training out of Austin Kickboxing Academy and Bigger Faster Stronger Training in Texas. He's put together a 5-0 record competing largely on the Texas regional scene. Most recently he beat rising regional talent Josh Foster at IXFA 10. Otherwise there's little in the way of notable talent or names on his record, although surprisingly all his best competition was outside Legacy FC. Alongside his pro MMA career, Jolly is also a Kuk Sool Won practitioner and owner of his own academy.
What you should expect:
Interestingly, given his background in traditional martial arts and his training out of a school titled "Austin Kickboxing Academy," Jolly isn't exactly a striker. That's not to say he doesn't have power in his hands or even some decent technique, but the core of his game seems to be around getting into the clinch, doing some dirty boxing and changing levels for the takedown. He's definitely a good athlete and has fast hands, but he doesn't seem to want to spend any time at range. One the ground he's not a bad top control fighter, but he's not quite devastating with his ground and pound either. He lands big shots in bursts, but also seems very happy to just lock down positions and force guys to carry his weight. In general, Jolly has good athletic tools and a chance to develop a larger game around them to be a more dangerous fighter, but looks pretty limited right now.
What this means for his debut:
Assuming he's fighting Misha Cirkunov (if he's not then his debut is really dependent on his matchup)... This is exactly the wrong style to fight a guy like Cirkunov. On the one hand, Jolly is at his best in an area where Cirkunov is gonna want to engage him, the clinch. But, it's also an area where Cirkunov has a lot more options. If Jolly can't land a huge strike rushing in, Cirkunov's judo/wrestling/grappling game is going to meet him clinch for clinch and probably try and tear something off him in a hurry. As a somewhat more technically limited version of a fighter like Jimi Manuwa, there's a chance that Jolly really puts something together down the road. But, until he does, he's probably not winning against a fighter like Cirkunov.
To get us better acquainted, here's Jolly's last fight against Foster from May of last year: