Finishing off our 2011 World MMA Middleweight Scouting Report, Kongo-born fighter Papy Abedi (8-0) chimes in with the top spot with an impressive background in Judo, overwhelming strength and power, and brutalizing slams and ground and pound. The Judo black belt was rumored to be close to signing with the UFC in recent months, but those rumors have since been squashed. Regardless, he’s likely on the UFC’s radar as a potential signee due to his attractive style.
Offensive Skills: Abedi’s Judo black belt credentials are normally an immediate focal point when we talk about his offensive abilities. There aren’t a plethora of successful Judo players in mixed martial arts, and it’s even more difficult to find accomplished Judo fighters who use the techniques learned in that specific martial art inside the cage or ring. Abedi falls in the latter category, although he has gained tremendous balance and clinch skills from his experience in Judo. He isn’t much of a thrower, but he’s certainly a guy who will slam you into unconsciousness given the opportunity.
His greatest asset is his overwhelming strength. He has been stronger than every opponent he’s faced, and I wouldn’t say it was negligible by any stretch of the imagination. No, Abedi tosses opponents around the cage with ease, normally resorting to incredible slams that lead to heavy ground and pound sessions. While his top control game and transition skills need some work, he does continue to improve in those aspects, although his progression is a bit slower than expected.
His stand-up skills are one of the better aspects of his game, and it’s a far cry from what it looked like in the early days of his career. His strength adds to the danger for opponents trying to stand with him, and it’s evident in more recent fights that he is improving his technique considerably from fight to fight.
Defensive Skills: Abedi’s Judo black belt status may not have a lot of proven use in the offensive category, but he uses it often in the clinch to stay off his back. His balance and body positioning when his opponents try to topple him to the ground usually allows him to reverse roles quickly.
On the feet, his defense could use some tightening up, but he’s generally a solid defensive-minded fighter with his hands. He normally keeps one hand tucked near his chin. In exchanges, he is fairly wide open for counters, but that could be corrected with some better offensive technique in his striking.
Progression: Abedi’s stand-up game is his most improved aspect of his skill-set. Early fights were sloppy and riddled with bad technique. Winging overhand punches and no defense to speak of were trends in those fights, but he’s grown considerably over the course of the last four years. His punching prowess continues to improve, and he’s more prone to throwing straight punch-hook combinations versus simply swinging for the fences.
His progression, offensively, on the ground hasn’t been as quick, and he still has problems trying to break through defenses on the ground to assault opponents. He is, however, gaining more knowledge in the submission game, and his strength makes it nearly impossible for opponents to escape holds.
Environment: Abedi trains out of Hilti NHB in Sweden, home of UFC veteran Per Eklund and fellow Scouting Report prospect Reza Madadi. He’s also been linked to current UFC light heavyweight fighter Alexander Gustafsson as a training partner.
|#1 – Thiago Michel
#2 – Ricardo Tirloni
#3 – Magno Almeida
#4 – Ui Cheol Nam
#5 – Henrique Mello
#6 – Reza Madadi
#7 – Alexander Sarnavskiy
#8 – Ole Laursen
#9 – Guillaume DeLorenzi
#10 – Al Iaquinta
|#1 – Yuri Villefort
#2 – Alex Garcia
#3 – Erick Silva
#4 – Douglas Lima
#5 – Luis “Sapo” Santos
#6 – Jesse Juarez
#7 – Gunnar Nelson
#8 – Quinn Mulhern
#9 – Alberto Mina
#10 – Joe Ray
|#1 – Papy Abedi
#2 – Chris Weidman
#3 – Vitor Vianna
#4 – Vyacheslav Vasilevsky
#5 – Bruno Santos
#6 – Costantinos Philippou
#7 – Jordan Smith
#8 – Uriah Hall
#9 – Victor O’Donnell
#10 – Assan Njie
Potential: Many of you are probably wondering why a 32-year-old judoka is taking the top spot on our Scouting Report when a youthful prospect with outstanding wrestling sits in our #2 spot. While Weidman has a better chance at making a more profound impact in the sport over time, he isn’t ready for the big leagues at this stage in his career.
Abedi, with eight career fights under his belt against some very experienced individuals, not only has more time in the sport, but he’s shown that he has the style and excitement factor to entice big name promotions. While that isn’t a major factor in where fighters are ranked, it does give him an edge in terms of attractiveness to a promotion like the UFC.
Furthermore, Abedi’s overpowering strength, improving stand-up skills, and Judo background combine to make a more well-rounded fighter than Weidman… at least in what we can see from actual footage. Weidman has the camp to mold him into a much more complete fighter for the future, but Abedi has proven to be consistently dangerous on both the feet and the ground at this point in time.
In the end, Weidman and Abedi are interchangeable at the top of this list, but Abedi is the “ready now” fighter. Weidman has another year of development, in my mind, and Abedi’s opportunity is now.
In-depth profile on Papy Abedi (Swedish)
Papy Abedi vs Nathan Schouteren
Papy Abedi VS Mikael Pastor – 1st professional bout
Papy Abedi vs Timur Akbulut
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