An unlikely grappling matchup between welterweights keeps the audience awake this February 27, 2016 at the O2 Arena in London, United Kingdom.
The Match Up
Welterweight Tom Breese 9-0 vs. Keita Nakamura 31-6-2
Welterweight Tom Breese -1165 vs. Keita Nakamura +750
3 Things You Should Know
1. Breese is the rare English breed, oozing tons of potential, and training at a high quality North American gym.
At 24 years of age, Breese is progressing exactly as you'd want a blue chip prospect to progress. His matchmaking has been a little "soft" you might say, but that's exactly what you want your prospects to do. Could the UFC be more consistent with this process? Of course. But when it happens, you breathe a sigh of relief knowing full well that a Charles Oliveira is on the other side. Breese is drawing Nakamura, who is no Bryan Barberena. But he's no Francisco Trevino either. I think.
2. Nakamura has been around for ages. He's been competent for ages too.
Nakamura has always been the unique breed of quiet competence. He's not great at any one thing, but unlike most of jack of all trade types who are rough around the edges, Nakamura is quite slick. This tends to be the case with a lot of Shooto veterans. Because coaching never emphasized transition fighting, and phase shifting, each skill is honed in a vacuum. As a result, their skills are polished even if their philosophy isn't.
3. It's an awful matchup for Nakamura, but he'll command Breese's respect on the ground if it goes there.
Breese is dangerous on the feet not due to what he throws, but due to what he doesn't throw. As in, his feints, size, and speed allow him to force reactions out of his opponent. When that happens, he can put together a good string of punches, or fight his way into the clinch where he can get top control with surprising efficiency. Once there, he's top heavy the way Manny Gambruyan is top heavy, but without all that inertia on top.
Nakamura isn't a fish out of water on the ground. He's been swimming in competition for over a decade, with plenty of outside experience in straight jiu jitsu against the world's best. He's quick at identifying openings and pouncing on them with ease and craft.
The real issue for Nakamura is how he manages to deal with the vertical pugilism. He's quite technical, able to shoot in with punches with craft. But his movement is of the molasses variety, and Breese's size advantage will take full advantage of this.
This just isn't an interesting fight except as a proxy for Breese's development. Nakamura needs to be fighting Mike Pyle and Chris Lytle. Not Tom Breese, who will probably be fighting someone much higher on the totem pole in another year and half. Tom Breese by RNC, round 2.