Grading the Prospects: Elvis Mutapcic

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This is the fifth 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 Gunnar Nelson. Today he analyses Elvis Mutapcic, using a unique Prospect Grades formula, detailed at bottom.

Before I grade, I want to thank MFC and for all of their help. They were beyond generous in finding me footage to review. And they were always available for any questions or concerns I had.
We will be evaluating Elvis Mutapcic. His next fight is February 15th, 2012 on He’ll be defending his title against Sam Alvey. 

Elvis Mutapcic
Height: 6’
Weight: 185 lbs         
Range: 72”
Age:  26                                   
Record:  12-2
Strength of Competition: 2 MFC/ 1 SF
SOC: 15 (1.5)
Size: 27   (2.7)
Age: 5   (2.0)  

Striking- boxing 5, clinch work 3, kickboxing 5, footwork 3,  Positioning 1, chin 3, composure 3, cardio 3.
Grappling- Takedowns 2,  Top Control 2,   Transition 2, Submission 3, TD defense 3,  Guard Work 2, Escape ability 1, Sub D 2 .  
Total Grade— 90 C

Elvis’s frame is really remarkable when examined.  He has a very thick upper body and back, strong thighs that can deliver a lot of power.  The king carries just enough muscle that I don’t think 170 lbs is an option.  Although his bottom half doesn’t contain elite explosion, it has good pop.  His upper portion has plenty of explosion and strength.  He won’t be over matched by elite athletes at 185 as his body type reminds me of Vitor Belfort, a very top heavy fighter. 

The Bosnian is already a well-rounded fighter.   Showing flashes of elite power in both hands and feet.  He has a very good base for kickboxing.  He keeps both hands high and tight at all times and chin tucked.  He works his limited range well, snapping hard sharp leg kicks to get in close.  The separating factor for him is the combo’s he can work.  He has the hand speed to really launch four punch combos with ease.  The danger for opponents is: he carries bombs in both hands combined with fierce leg kicks that are accurate. 

And he’s learned to complement his strengths already.  He has strong hips for a nice wide base for take down defense.  The King also has a workable ground game; with stiff ground and pound and sharp elbows.  He combines that with a good submission game as well.  He has shown the ability to work transitions for finishes, either on the bottom or top.  Elvis has real strength to latch on to limbs or necks and make guys tap.   He possesses a nice tight squeeze, thanks to that strength and bicep size.

Mutapcic hasn’t shown many holes.  He does have two losses, both by decision.  But, there are concerns when you examine some of his fights.  The Bosnian has so much power and confidence in his hands he’s willing to take shots.  And when he does take them, he cuts.  He opens up a bit on film.  And when you examine his bone structure in his face, he has sharp upper cheek bones.  Boxing coaches worry about this when looking at a fighter. 

Despite having great striking he doesn’t move his head that well.  As a result he takes unnecessary punishment.  Like I said, a lot of that is due to his power.  Elvis knows if he connects, someone’s going to sleep.  Another concern is: he’s a move forward fighter.  It reminds of Shogun in his pride days; always willing to move forward and exchange.  The offset of this is: Mutapcic doesn’t back up well.  Pressure and angels will throw him off his game plan.  Henle did a great job of this, up until the point of getting his knee kicked out of socket.

The King is maybe the top Middleweight prospect out there.  He’s only 26 years of age and has several years before his prime.  Elvis is a thick bruising prospect that ends fights, dangerous standing up and on the mat.  Already the Bosnian is a multi-tool fighter that contains many weapons.  He show’s concerns in small areas, those are correctable.  A good boxing coach will work his head movement.  He’ll need to work on his positioning a bit; learn to adapt to backing up and avoid unnecessary exchanges. 

Mutapcic is a dangerous fight for anyone.  I consider him perhaps, already a top 10 Middleweight.  He has only a small bit of weakness.  Yes, an elite wrestler could pose some problems for him.  Elvis avoids being on his back at all times and that is a question mark.  But with a “C” grade in potential we could expect growth, roughly 3-8 points added overall.  The King will be a top 5 talent and maybe a chaser for the title when Anderson’s gone.

Prospect Grades uses a numerical building block system of grading, where fighters are awarded points based on:
•Strength of competition
•Skill set

Strength of Competition:
30 base points: UFC (four or more fights)
20 base points: Strikeforce
16 base points: Bellator (who have done an astounding job at signing young talent)
12 base points: TitanFC/OneFC/MFC/KOTC/LEGACY
5 base points: Any shows below

Prospect points for size range 10-40
Size points potentially weighs heavily in the score total, as size is frequently the attribute that separates the Jon Joneses from the rest of the stable.

Skill Set:
1-7 Prospect Points are awarded in a number of categories. If there is a glaring hole, negative points can be awarded.
Striking (Offense)
Clinch Work:__
Striking (Defense)
Grappling (Top Game)
Top Control:__
Transition Ability:__
Submission Ability:__
Grappling (Bottom/Defense)
Takedown defense:__
Escape ability:__
Submission Defense:__

The retirements of Chuck, Tito, Randy, etc, which are being followed by the retirements of Pride legends signal a new age.  There is new crop of athletes to cheer for. Understanding the room to grow, and when they will peak, is key.  Age hugely determines where they will be five to ten years from now.
From 14 to -10 Prospect Points are awarded for age.
18-21              15      
22-23               14     
4-25                 10         
26-28                 5      
29-30                 0      
31-32                -2
33-36                -4
37+                  -10