Saturday, March 28th, Brazilian featherweight prospect Leonardo Limberger will be in action for Absolute Championship Akhmat, where he will be fighting opposite Marat Balaev. He will be looking to continue his current winning streak, as Limberger looks to get closer to an eventual UFC contract. He represents Rizzo Vale Tudo, a respected camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Submission Grappling: When I watch Limberger’s fights, I really like what I see when the fight hits the mat. Limberger is a menace from top position. He is very good at advancing positions and creating openings for himself to get to a spot to finish a fight. His ground strikes are solid, though a more dangerous ground-and-pound threat would make it even easier for him to advance. He has good grip strength, and when he gets hold of a neck, he can choke you out quickly. His rear-naked and arm-triangle chokes are very impressive. Five of his seven finishes come by way of tapout, which further backs up that he’s not a guy to mess with on the ground.
Strength of Schedule/Experience: For being a young fighter, Limberger certainly not only has a good amount of experience, but experience fighting tough opposition. Sure, he started his career off taking on inexperienced no names fighters. But, that has evolved into taking on guys like Boris Federov (10-1), Fabricio Martins (11-2) and Jamil Silveira (42-15-1), among others. None of those fighters are pushovers. He won all of those fights too. In fact, his only loss came in 2013, when Limberger was a teenager. Since then, he’s been very impressive and greatly improved. That quick improvement is a reason why this guy is a top featherweight prospect.
On-the-Feet Intangibles: For a 5’9″ fighter, Limberger has long limbs and accordingly, fights long. That said, there are things about his striking that could be tightened up a bit. He has decent power, but his defense could be patched up. He can sometimes get walked down and keeps his hands low sometimes. That where he can take a big shot. He has solid kicks, but he could use them more often, especially to soften up an opponent and keep them guessing. Some feints to set up his strikes would be big too. He’s not a terrible striker, but patching up those holes would make him even more dangerous than he is.
Too Many Decisions: Six of Limberger’s wins have come via decision. That includes his last three fights, including his most recent outing where he took a split decision over Boris Federov. That’s a little too many for my taste. The UFC and other big promotions want consistent finishers and killers who are looking to end the fight from bell to bell. Scoring more decisive wins-ie: knockouts and submissions-would do wonders for Limberger in terms of catching the attention of the UFC. The judge’s can giveth and taketh away. It would be a shame for Limberger to lose a good, close fight simply because the judges saw it the other way.
UFC Mainstay: At just 25 years old and under the tutelage of a legend like Pedro Rizzo, there is no doubt in my mind that Leonardo Limberger has great potential. He already has good experience with 14 pro fights and the most recent bouts are against experienced and/or top regional opponents. He now has his biggest test to date in the form of Marat Balaev. Balaev is an experienced fighter who has had a tough strength of schedule, so he’ll be ready for a killer like Limberger. If Limberger wins this fight, he prove he’s ready for the UFC right now. If not, than he goes back to the drawing board, tightens up what he needs to and continues toward his eventual run in the UFC.