Big men, so the saying goes, don’t grow on trees. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what that saying is about. They’re certainly rare enough. Lately, however, it appears that the UFC has begun taking serious steps to de-stagnate their upper weight classes. The spent the last year signing just about every heavyweight they could get their hands on, and now they’ve got a new face coming to the 185 lb division. Devin Clark will make his promotional debut this July, at UFC Sioux falls, facing off against another recent pickup moving down from light heavyweight, Alex Nicholson. The Argus Leader first reported the news of Clark’s signing. So…
Who is Devin Clark?
“Brown Bear” as he’s also known, is a 26-year-old former light heavyweight fighter, making the move down to 185 lbs for the first time in his MMA career. He trains out of Next Edge Academy in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the home to former UFC welterweight David Michaud. Clark enters the UFC with a 6-0 undefeated record and the RFA light heavyweight championship around his waist. Four of his wins come via finish, with victories over Rafael Viana and Dervin Lopez representing his best competition on paper. Before starting his MMA career, Clark was a junior college wrestling champion. He also has a long background as an amateur boxer. Clark was also scouted for the UFC via Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight” web series.
What you should expect:
So far as I can tell with pretty limited tape, Clark has made his way through the regionals with a pretty standard, developing MMA skill game. He looks like a pretty good athlete, and while he’s not exceptionally tall (at 6′ 0″) he seems to be very broad across the shoulders, and should carry the weight pretty well for 185.
As far as skills go, his punches look nice and crisp, but he doesn’t look like he has much head movement built into his striking game and tends to lift his chin in the air as the throws combinations. His wrestling is more powerful than technical, but he’s fast enough with a double leg to make it happen. And while he has some sharp ground and pound, he’s not a very high output ground striker, as he’s not yet adept at hold opponents down from top ride while also striking. Essentially he’s raw in the way that a fighter with less than 10 fights and less than 3 years of cage time tends to be raw. If he can get the right matchups, he should develop pretty well over his UFC career.
What this means for his debut:
Tough to say. Nicholson will be a lot taller, and while less broad, I’d be willing to bet he’ll be the generally bigger fighter in the cage. And while Nicholson is every bit as raw (if not moreso) as Clark, he’s also a pretty great athlete and may be the more consistent brawling striker. Both men tend to leave their chins up and exposed, so the chances of a KO finish could be high. Clark is definitely going to be the more technical wrestler and cleaner boxer of the two, but if he’s giving up a lot of size and reach that may not matter. Neither fighter trains out of a prestigious camp, either, so this really has the feel of a coin-flip fight to it.
To get us better acquainted, here’s Clark’s 2015 fight against William Vincent:
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