Prospect in the Spotlight (Aug 23-24): Phil Caracappa

Introduction

Tuesday, August 20th, American bantamweight prospect Phil Caracappa will be in action for Dana White’s Contender Series, where he will be looking to earn a win over Ricky Steele. He will be looking to score yet another win, as Caracappa looks to potentially earn a UFC contract. He represents Dante Rivera BJJ, a respected camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Ground Versatility: There is no doubt when watching Caracappa that he’s a strong ground fighter. He closes the distance because of his aggression on the feet and will either clinch up, where he is strong, or score a takedown. He has good offensive and defensive wrestling capabilities. While on the mat, he is very heavy from top position and very rarely loses a dominant position. He keeps the pressure up, threatening with ground-and-pound that helps open his opponent up or finish them. That pressure was one way he dominated UFC vet Louis Gaudinot in that, the biggest victory of his career. He ain’t the flashiest, but he’s damn effective on the mat.

Heart/Determination: You cannot teach heart. You either have it or you don’t. Caracappa has heart and that’s an immeasurable attribute in the sport of MMA. Even when he’s hurt, he constantly moves forward. He eats damage very well and he’s got a very good chin to say the least. His determination is key as well. He is very mindful of when he needs to turn up the volume, especially if he falls behind. Watch his TKO win over John Sweeney. Sweeney had hurt him multiple times in the first two rounds and Caracappa knew he was down going into the fifth. He turned it up to 11, despite being rocked multiple times, and finished Sweeney with big strikes.

Needs Improvement

Striking Intangibles: Caracappa is not a bad striker, but there are certainly things he could clean up to make him more effective. He can get flat footed and keep his head on a straight line when he’s striking. That makes it easier for his opponent to touch him. He also can become repetitive and telegraph his punches. In addition to that, he can get overly aggressive on the feet, which opens him up to counter shots. Those can add up and they have in the past. Because of that, he is open to taking damage when fighting competent strikers who are more patient (Sweeney dropped him twice in their bout). Caracappa is improving from fight to fight, though, so perhaps we will see this gap close when he takes on the aforementioned Steele on Tuesday.

Decision Heavy Fighter: If there’s one thing Dana White, the UFC brass and fans in general love, it’s a guy who finishes fights. Unfortunately for Caracappa, he’s finished just two of his eight professional opponents. In two of those six decisions, Caracappa took a majority and split decisions, showing hoe close those fights were and how they could have gone the other way. Anytime you leave a fight in the hands of the judges, you risk giving them the power to take a win away from you. That said, Caracappa’s two finishes have come by third-round TKO, showing he has the ability to fight consistently and outlast his opponent from bell to bell.

Outlook

UFC Prelim Fighter: Caracappa is a talented young kid, but the reality is that bantamweight is an absolute shark tank in the UFC. Caracappa has winnable fights in the UFC. The question is, can he break onto the next level against the top-25? I don’t know about that just yet. There are too many good counter strikers and too many superior wrestlers for him to deal with at the highest level of the sport. Clearly, with his win over Gaudinot, he can fight at the UFC’s level. Will he stay there long though? I think he will have a nice tenure, but be relegated to a guy that graces the prelims, which is no insult. Continued improvement will be key.

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