Sometimes a prospect just sneaks up on you out of nowhere. This is especially the case at the heavier weight divisions, where talent is limited and promotions are always looking for the next big thing. Prospects tend to go from 0-60 in a hurry and by the time you recognize one, they're already in the big show. That seems like it might be the case with Johnathan Wilson, who made a solid statement in his UFC debut with a 50 second KO of Chris Dempsey. It will be interesting to see if that's can be true of Frank Waisten as well, who well be making his debut against the aforementioned Wilson at UFC 199 on June 4th in Inglewood, California. The announcement of Waisten's signing was first reported by MMA Fighting. So...
Who is Frank Waisten?
Luiz Henrique Frank Waisten Jr., also known as "Henrique Frankenstein" is a 26-year-old Brazilian light heavyweight training out of Hard Fight MMA alongside UFC heavyweight never-ran Geronimo dos Santos, longtime regional vet Zezao Trator, and a whole host of rising young prospects. Waisten only started his pro-MMA career in December of 2013, but over the last two years he's won 10 fights in a row (for a 10-0 unbeaten record), all by KO/TKO and with only two bouts ending outside the first round. Most recently he KO'd UFC vet Ildemar Alcantara on January 14th. Other than a win over fellow prospect Fabio Vasconcelos, the Alcantara fight represents the first really meaningful opponent on his record, but that's a hell of a meaningful win. Outside of MMA, Waisten has a background in Muay Thai and competed actively at the amateur level, winning a national title in the sport in 2015.
What you should expect:
Waisten could have a lot of potential. He's 6' 4" looks like an alright athlete, has a nice skill base, but he is very raw. He honestly reminds me a bit of Wagner Prado, and not just because they both fought Alcantara and came to the UFC on a long hot-streak of first round KOs. He's a striker that both still seems to be finding his technical game in the cage and his fitness as an upper tier athlete. At range he's a kicker first. with a powerful right leg he can throw to the body and head without much warning. When he punches he tends to keep his hands low and his chin high, putting him in especially bad positioning for counters. For the most part however, he throws big looping punches as a way to get into the clinch, where he can fire knees.
Because he's not the strongest athlete, he's not necessarily the best clinch fighter. In his fight with Alcantara he was largely nullified whenever the fight got inside, especially early when both men were fresh. Since he opens up with big strikes from the outside and isn't overpowering inside, he's very open to being taken down either in exchanges or from the body lock. Neither his wrestling nor his grappling offer much, and off his back he seems to mostly look to stall for time. He's obviously got natural power, he has a few dynamic moments standing, and he seems tough, but at the moment he's a just a very limited fighter.
What this means for his debut:
That's difficult to say. It's not as though Jonathan Wilson is some marvel of technical mastery. Wilson is very likely the better athlete, but for all intents and purposes, his first real pro fight was his UFC debut, and beating Chris Dempsey is less impressive that beating Ildemar Alcantara. On the flip side, Waisten was getting beat bad by Alcantara for a round and then some before turning the tide. And even then it was really one shot that put him ahead and got him the finish. Bravo might be the better pick just on current athletic ability and fitness, but both men are super raw.
To get us better acquainted, here's Waisten's most recent bout against Ildimar Alcantara back in January: