Welcome to the UFC, Ray, Stasiak, Nguyen, and Campbell

Card changes are flying fast and furious as the injury bug continues to tear through the UFC. Not long ago, Marcin Bandel's opponent Jason…

By: Zane Simon | 8 years ago
Welcome to the UFC, Ray, Stasiak, Nguyen, and Campbell
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Card changes are flying fast and furious as the injury bug continues to tear through the UFC. Not long ago, Marcin Bandel’s opponent Jason Saggo went down with a ruptured achilles tendon (which he was nice enough to share with the world in video form). In Saggo’s place comes one of Scotland’s brightest MMA talents, Steven Ray. The UFC reported the news via press release on Monday. Joining Ray as a newcomer to the Krakow card is Damian Stasiak. MMAJunkie reported Stasiak’s signing as a late addition to the card, facing off against Yaotzin Meza. Also in breaking injury news (see what I did there) Junkie also has the report that Shane Campbell is on his way to the UFC to replace Abel Trujillo against John Makdessi at UFC 186. And finally, filling out the UFC’s upcoming card in Adelaide, Australia, The Daily Telegraph reports that the UFC has signed Ben Nguyen of viral video fame. Nguyen will be taking on Alptekin Ozkilic. So…

Who is Stevie Ray?

Steven “Braveheart” Ray is the latest Griphouse/Dinky Ninjas fighter to make his way to the UFC, following Joanne Calderwood and Robert Whiteford. The 25-year old Scotsman is the former Cage Warriors lightweight champion, having relinquished the belt to sign with Zuffa, and will come to the Octagon with a record of 16-5. In that record he has a pair of wins over UFC vet Curt Warburton as well as a victory over rising prospects Sean Carter. Most of his losses are by submission, with his only decision loss (to Warburton) having been avenged. Ray is an MMA native, having started training in his late teens without prior combat sports experience.

What you should expect:

At range, Ray really prefers to have time and space to work. He’s definitely better pushing forward than he is going backward, where he can get locked up against the fence and bullied a bit. On the offensive however, he has a nice left hand and left kick with good power in both. He’s not much of a lead hand striker, and doesn’t set up a lot behind the jab, but has good timing on his strikes. Most importantly, Ray also has a really solid power double leg from the outside. He’s great at coming in with the same setup as his overhand left and dropping right into a double leg for the takedown. He’s also shown a really nice, stifling and aggressive top grappling game. He does a very solid job of keeping position while hunting aggressively for ground and pound and submission opportunities. Eventually, he can be a bit willing to go for low percentage subs, when better options aren’t available, and give up good position because of it, but his process in getting there is solid.

What this means for his debut:

Marcin Bandel is the kind of opponent where you’re either going to beat him or you’re not. That may not sound like much of a technical distinction, but I can explain. Bandel is an alright kickboxer and a dangerous grappler, but he doesn’t have much in the way of interconnecting skills. Not just that his wrestling isn’t great, but he tends to fight in modes, either he’s kickboxing, or he’s trying to grappler, the two aren’t interlocked. If you can prevent him from snatching a leg and twisting it or out work him on the feet, you can beat him. If you can’t, you probably won’t. Ray should be the more consistent, powerful kickboxer, and is definitely the better wrestler. If he decides he wants to keep this fight on the mat, it could be a close run thing, but the fight seems more predicated on him screwing up, rather than Bandel being a serious threat.

To get us better acquainted, here’s Ray’s last fight against Curt Warburton at Cage Warriors 73:

Who is Damian Stasiak?

25-year old Polish MMA fighter Damian Stasiak is perhaps better known for his competitive Karate career than his MMA career at this point. Stasiak was the 2014 European Cup champion in Karate among numerous other tournament titles in the sport. Thus far into his MMA career, Stasiak is 8-2 most recently defeating Bloody Elbow Scouting Report prospect Mike Grundy at BAMMA 19. He also holds a win over top Polish prospect Krzysztof Klaczek. Although he has a loss to relative unknown Dmitry Silnyagin, his only other loss comes to top featherweight prospect Magomed Magomedov. Despite his long background in Karate, five of Stasiak’s 8 wins come via submission.

What you should expect:

In a lot of ways Stasiak’s footwork reminds me of Stephen Thompson. A lack of kickboxing experience makes him a much less varied striker, but some of the fundamentals are pretty similar. He has something akin to a Karate stance when striking with his upper body slightly squared, but his hips cocked back to throw hard body kicks. He’s not much of a combination striker, mostly looking to land counter shots as his opponents come in and to land kicks from the outside. His kicking game is nicely complicated and unpredictable, but he doesn’t set it up much.

Outside of that, Stasiak is a decent but not great wrestler, offensively and defensively. He can hit a big slam or solid single leg, but that may have a lot to do with his quality of opposition as well. He’s got a good sprawl, but will give up takedowns or attempt guillotines if opponents start to chain wrestle on him. Where his offensive game is really at its most potent is when he’s on the ground. He’s got a very solid controlling top game and holds position really well while looking for subs. He’ll throw them up from his back as well, but grappling from top is definitely his first option.

What this means for his debut:

Stasiak definitely has a softball in front of him with Yaotzin Meza. Meza is a competent wrestler and grappler, but rarely dominates in either phase, and doesn’t seem to have the aggressive, powerful game that could give Stasiak a lot of trouble. On his feet, Meza is a very limited striker and is really dependent on getting the clinch to make his offense effective. This should be a fight Stasiak will win, as he’s the more technical/powerful striker, and should be able to match Meza everywhere else.

To get us better acquainted, here’s Stasiak’s recent bout against Kamil Selwa:

Who is Shane Campbell?

“Shaolin” Shane Campbell, as he is better known, is a Canadian Muay Thai fighter-come-mma stylist. He trains out of Toshido MMA alongside Matt Dwyer and Sarah Moras up in Kelowna, British Colombia. He’ll be entering the UFC with a record of 11-2 having competed for Heat XC, MFC, and most recently WSOF (among several other Canadian promotions). Campbell has wins over rising prospects Marcus Edwards and Stephen Beaumont as well as a few seasoned regional vets. His most recent loss comes at the hands of former UFC fighter Jesse Ronson. Outside of MMA, Campbell has a record of 62-9 as a pro kickboxer, having competed for K-1 Max in 2013/2014.

What you should expect:

Campbell has a very Muay Thai oriented MMA approach, unsurprising given his long history there. He tends to favor quick, straight punches and opens and closes most of his combinations with hard leg kicks. He enters the clinch well behind a variety of strikes and is really very good at staying busy there. He can get a few takedowns from bodylock and has brutal ground and pound when he gets strong top positions, but otherwise is really mostly a standup fighter. Off his back he tends to rely on stalling and maintaining guard to get stand-ups, and doesn’t maintain control particularly well when he has a dominant position. He has all the makings of an action striker for the UFC, but his other skills need rounding out.

What this means for his debut:

Fortunately for Campbell, he’s getting a great intro matchup in the UFC. John Makdessi may be a good striker, but he’s just as unlikely as his opponent to try and take things to the ground or make this anything more than an all action striking match. Does Campbell win that match? I’m not sure. He’s the bigger, rangier fighter, as Makdessi is small even at lightweight (Campbell will have a solid 4 inches on Makdessi at least). In a bout of distance strikers, that matters a lot. But, on the other side, Makdessi is almost certainly the better, more naturally gifted athlete, and the more comfortable boxer. If Cambell can keep this outside or in the clinch, and not get stuck in the pocket, he can win. Otherwise, this feels like a coin-flip, barn-burner of a fight.

To get us better acquainted, here’s Campbell’s recent bout against Jerrid Burke at MFC 40:

Who is Ben Nguyen?

At this point 26-year-old Australian-based American Ben Nguyen is probably more famous for beating the ink off of Julez the Jackal than anything else. The 42-second clip of Nguyen and his opponent squaring off, and then Nguyen beating him like a rented mule has over 7 million clicks on YouTube. So, it may be surprising to some that Nguyen has actually been in the game for quite a while. Starting his career back in December of 2006-ish, he has a pro record of 13-5 (maybe 13-6). However, after a rocky start, Nguyen hasn’t lost a fight since 2010 putting him on a 7 bout streak. His best win is probably over rising prospect Andrew Whitney, but his record is generally strong and all his losses have come from really legit rising competition, including Alexis Vila, and Erik Perez.

What you should expect:

Nugyen has been in MMA a long time for a fighter as young as he is. A pro since his teen years, He should have a well rounded game coming into the UFC. He even had a semi-pro bout all the way back in 2003, at the age of just 15. As for just how all that translates into the cage… He’s an aggressive fighter out of the gate, with a tendency to walk himself out of striking range and into the clinch and into takedowns. He’s a good athlete, so he’s hard to take down, but he relies more on athleticism than consistent technique for defense.

On the other side of that Nguyen has a very active clinch striking game and does well to stay busy with knees on the inside and from the plum. He has some power in his hands and feet from the outside, but isn’t that consistent with his technical application. His tendency to rush forward throwing strikes means that even when he hurts fighters he has trouble putting them away. Moving down to flyweight may help him press his athletic advantages more, but a lot of his process just isn’t great.

What this means for his debut:

I’ve probably been lower on Alptekin Ozkilic than he deserves. When he was a hyped prospect coming in, his lack of striking was a constant question mark in my mind, something I felt  many were overlooking amid his wrestling credentials. Since then, however, his hands have improved quite a bit. He’s 1-2 in the UFC, and that Smolka fight was ugly as hell, but he did well in a loss to John Lineker. If Ozkilic can apply his wrestle-boxing consistently here, I’m not sure that Nguyen will  have an easy answer. If Nguyen can keep this a range striking match, his power and variety should give him the edge. Tough fight, but I think Ozkilic should have it.

To get us more familiar, here’s Nguyen’s recent bout against Kian Pham:

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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