UFC Fight Island 6, which takes place tomorrow night (Sat., Oct. 17, 2020) inside Flash. Forum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, took plenty of knocks; however, it remains a smorgasbord of up-and-coming talent. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where having accounts on foreign video sites is just standard operating procedure, we check out Poland’s best non-UFC fighter, a promising Georgian striker, and a man who both mauls and models.
Mateusz “Gamer” Gamrot
Weight Class: Lightweight
Record: 17-0-1 (5 KO, 4 SUB)
Notable Victories: Andre Winner, Marif Piraev, Mansour Barnaoui, Norman Parke, Kleber Koike Erbst
Poland’s Mateusz Gamrot, a professional since 2012, is among the most accomplished fighters in the European scene. “Gamer” captured the KSW Lightweight title in 2016 and never lost it in the ring, at one point moving down to claim the Featherweight title as well with a decision over Kleber Koike Erbst.
Gamrot is a mix of busy switch-hitter and suffocating grappler. He likes to pressure with straight punches and put together lengthy combinations, using his impressive gas tank to ratchet up his output as the fight progresses. Of note are his sneaky elbows and uppercuts, ability to do damage from a single collar tie, and impressively sharp counters that make meeting him head-on as risky as giving ground. While he’s not the biggest hitter, his output allows him to dish out some real punishment, as seen when he busted up Norman Parke’s face in their trilogy bout.
Where he seems to struggle is with highly mobile opponents. Erbst faded rather early and backed straight up, allowing Gamrot to march forward and unload without issue. Recent foe Marian Ziolkowski, on the other hand, made Gamrot chase him around the cage and look remarkably ineffective doing so; Gamrot had to rely on his grappling and Ziolkowski’s lack of output to grind out a decision. His substandard cage cutting looks prime for exploitation by UFC-caliber opposition.
That said, he can always fall back on his grappling. Gamrot is an excellent wrestler, boasting a particularly effective single-leg and well-timed reactive shots. His ground game itself is equally potent; he qualified for ADCC 2019 and completely shut down a dangerous jiu-jitsu artist in Erbst without issue. He’s not hugely destructive on top, but he’s got very good control, dangerous leg locks, and showed the ability to dish out nasty ground-and-pound against the previously unbeaten Marif Piraev.
Gamrot is definitely capable of earning a spot in the rankings before long, but his ability to actually reach the top of the division will likely come down to how well his wrestling holds up at the highest levels. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Octagon.
Opponent: He’ll have his hands full with late replacement Guram Kutateladze, who looks to have the edge in speed and power on the feet. Luckily for Gamrot, the Georgian’s takedown defense looks sufficiently porous for “Gamer” to grind his way to a decision win.
Weight Class: Lightweight
Record: 11-2 (7 KO, 1 SUB)
Notable Victories: Felipe Silva
Born in Georgia and representing Allstars, Guram Kutateladze enters the Octagon in the midst of an eight-fight win streak dating back to 2015. Four of his last five victories have come by knockout, including a 44-second wipeout of UFC veteran Felipe Silva in Nov. 2019.
He steps in for Magomed Mustafaev on less than two weeks’ notice.
Kutateladze is a slick, in-and-out combination striker with a remarkably deep arsenal. He’ll circle at range or patiently advance until an opportunity presents itself, then explode in with buttery-smooth bursts of offense, sometimes setting them up with effective feints. A dangerous left hook serves as his most lethal weapon, but he also possesses dexterous, powerful kicks that he uses to cap off his punching flurries. He’s plenty creative with his shot selection as well, at one point chaining a counter elbow to a spinning elbow to a double-leg takedown.
While he does move extremely well, he can be a bit predictable with his entries, which leaves him open to counters and takedown attempts. This looks like his biggest weakness at the moment; Silva staggered him with a nice right hand early in their fight and, while he’s shown some offensive wrestling chops of his own, Erick da Silva managed to take him down on multiple occasions and even rack up some back control.
If he can improve his feints and overall ability to get into the pocket safely, he’s got the striking to make a real impact in the division. Let’s hope he continues to develop …
Opponent: See above.
Mark “Mugen” Striegl
Weight Class: Bantamweight
Record: 18-2 (14 SUB)
Notable Victories: Ev Ting, Kai Kara-France
Known for both his modeling career and successful run on the Southeast Asian circuit, The Philippines’ Striegl has not tasted defeat since a 2015 comeback loss to Reese McLaren. His current five-fight unbeaten streak includes a guillotine finish of Do Gyeom Lee for the URCC Featherweight title, which he defended with a No Contest against Shunichi Shimizu.
He ends a nearly 18-month layoff on Saturday evening.
Unsurprisingly, wrestling and submissions are Striegl’s bread and butter. He’s got a varied arsenal with which to bring things to the mat, from double-legs to trips to single-legs to chain wrestling, and he’s downright suffocating from the top. While he’s got plenty of wins by traditional submissions, including eight by rear naked choke, he’s quite fond of scarf hold or Kesa-Gatame, from which he’s scored a number of armlocks.
By contrast, his striking was clearly underdeveloped circa that loss to McLaren, consisting largely of lead-leg kicks and one lovely counter elbow that floored his foe. McLaren tore up Striegl’s leg and repeatedly caught him with straight punches, ultimately finishing him in the third. While he’s still clearly at his best on the ground, he did show some improvement against Shimizu, boasting feints, jabs, low kicks with his rear leg, and overall functional kickboxing. He still got buckled when throwing three right hooks in a row, though, so there remains work to be done.
Striegl’s big question at the moment is his gas tank. His two submission defeats to Jang Yong Kim and the aforementioned McLaren came about after “Mugen” ran out of steam. The McLaren fight was particularly jarring, as Striegl seemed exhausted well before the end of the second round. Definitely something to keep an eye on.
With his charisma, wrestling, and finishing ability, Striegl could easily become a fixture on the UFC’s Eastern cards. I’m not convinced he’ll ever enter contention, though; great wrestling can carry him far, but not when burdened with mediocre standup AND shoddy cardio.
Opponent: He was originally slated to face Timur Valiev this past summer, a fight that almost surely would have ended in disaster for “Mugen.” New opponent Said Nurmagomedov is slightly more forgiving, as his fondness for spinning attacks can leave him vulnerable to takedowns, but Striegl still faces a massive disparity in striking skill that figures to start his Octagon run on a sour note.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Island 6 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance at 7 p.m. ET (also on ESPN+).
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