This is the second in an UnderGround Blog series by Daniel Caton, on grading the prospects in MMA, similar to the way the NFL grades prospects, based on strength of competition, size, speed, agility, and martial arts background, among other factors.
Caton's previous piece was on James TeHuna. Today he analyses Allan Nascimento.
Strength of Competition.
A UFC would grant the prospect 30 base points to his/her grade (must have at least 4 UFC Fights)
B Strikeforce would grant 20
C Bellator (who have done an astounding job at signing young talent) would give 16
D TitanFC/OneFC/MFC/KOTC/LEGACY would grant 12
F Anything below that would garner a local show base of 5
Then size would add 10-40 points to the score. Size weighs more in the score value and potential than other categories, as size is for example a main attribute that separates the Jon Jones from the rest of the world.
Then we’re going to look at skills.
This is where the previous two point scales will build into a number. We’ll grade the prospect based on the following and give them a range of 1-7 based in each category. Points are deducted where there are holes from 1-7.
Striking: As each striker has different bases this will follow the basic forms of MMA.
Offense- Boxing, Clinch Work, Kickboxing, Footwork
Defense- Positioning, Chin, Composure, Cardio (gas tank)
Grappling: Likewise broken down into different branches
Top Game- Takedowns, Top Control, Transition Ability, Submission Ability
Bottom Game- Takedown defense, guard work, escape ability, submission defense
The final points are for age. After running numbers on a host of current top tier UFC fighters, a system has been developed to project growth and decline. Age is SO essential as it relates to time to grow. There are the Hedo’s of the world that defy such logic, thanks in part to TRT, but they are the exception that proves the rule.
18-21 15 A 4.5
22-23 14 A 4.0
24-25 10 B 3.0
26-28 5 C 2.0
29-30 0 D 1.0
31-32 -2 F 0
33-36 -4 F -1
37+ -10 F -2.5
Our next prospect is...
Weight: 135-125; was signed as a flyweight.
Age: 20 14 A 4.5
Record: 6-0 (all finishes)
Strength of Competition: 1 Legacy Fight 12 D 1.0
Size: Nascimento staying at bantam or flyweight seems farfetched - he’s an extremely big bantamweight and mammoth flyweight. Bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz towers over most of his competition at a significantly smaller 5’8” with a 68" reach. Combine that with the fact he’s very athletic and mobile, and the future loosk bright.
Pros: Nascimento is considered the next big thing from Chute Boxe. Already being tagged “lil Anderson” this 20 year old has years to develop his already adaptive game. Nascimento has professional kickboxing experience, yet uses his muay thai to strengthen his submission game. It reminds of how Chris Lytle would bang to lull people into his deep submission arsenal.
In one of his fights Nascimento Thai clinches his opponent, lands a knee, and then jumps him into a flying triangle for the finish! He has very good submission ability with an active guard, continuing to attack while on his back, looking for knee bars and chokes. The Brazilian is quick, and moves very well to set up jabs and effective leg kicks. He has dangerous striking already, and can still improve further. Chute Box is stamped all over him, with the aggressive and straight forward attack mode characteristic of the team. Comparison to Aldo and Anderson at the same stage in their career is not out of the question.
Cons: Allan does show some holes. In his last fight he was fighting a great prospect in his own regard in Terry Acker. The Brazilian's wrestling will need to develop a lot more, as his takedowns are currently limited to throws from the clinch or pulling guard. Allan’s pure focus on the mat is BJJ. At some point n NCAA wrestler is going to challenge him, and exploit that hole. Acker clearly won the first, second, and most of the third round until Nascimento’s BJJ saved him. At this point Acker is the only quality opponent he has faced. So there is a concern how Allan would handle a step up in competition.
As Acker took it to him so thoroughly mainly due to the Chute Box style of pushing forward. He would push forward, and then get clinched, and dumped on his head or back. Despite his kickboxing experience he doesn’t work his range as well as he could. The aggressive straight forward mode can be limiting, as he is prone to step into jabs and hooks. His conditioning seems to be okay, but is “okay” good enough for a five round fight in that division?
Overall: Nascimento has a very bright future ahead of him. The holes in his game are correctable with time and experience. He kept his composure in a losing fight and found a way to win. He possesses very good muay thai and clinch ability. He is able to combine that with a slick submission game. This prospect can grow exponentially with the time left in the bucket. While his wrestling is lacking, a lot, with good coaching, he can develop cage control. As for his timing and position it will get better with experience. At just 20 years old he is still a kid, and has over a decade of development left.
Skill Set Scores:
Striking-- boxing 2 clinch work 3 kickboxing 3 footwork 2 ---- Positioning 2 chin 2 composure 3 cardio 3
Grappling- Takedowns 0 Top Control 2 Transition 3 Submission 5----TD defense -3 Guard Work 4 Escape ability -5 Sub D 0
Total Grade—88 B
The grade would be far higher, but he hasn’t fought much real tough competition yet. What we see is a phenomenal striker and submission expert, who has the size and athleticism of the next generation of MMA fighters. And he has all the time in the world to start working on his holes.
Fighters in MMA are too often afraid to use their Guard. In the minds of many, being in Guard means you are losing the fight. A lot of judges do see it that way, but if you can make your guard a weapon, like Aoki, why not have the option in your armory? Nascimento does, and he can finish with it.
Potential outlook in such a deep division is difficult to predict, especially when it is unclear how long he can stay at 135. It is just a matter of time before he’s in the UFC. Expect him to be a top 5 bantamweight…at least.
The UFC should give him two to three more fights, andthen take a hard look. If groomed correctly, he can be one of those Rory MacDonald “Do Everything Great” fighters. So keep a look out for him, and when it happens, and tell everyone… Daniel got it right!
To those of you interested in submitting prospects just reply below. I ask only that you also link me around 3-5 fights to review.