On Saturday, May 23rd, Russian heavyweight prospect Anton Vyazigin will be in action for Leon Warriors, where he will be fighting opposite Evgeny Myakinkin. He will be looking to continue his winning streak, as Vyazigin looks to get closer to an eventual UFC contract. He represents Sparta, an unknown camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Offensive Grappling: Vyazigin is like many of his Russian counterparts in that he enjoys the wrestling/grappling aspect of fighting. Much of his offense is based around going for takedowns and working from top position. His takedowns are solid, but they would be effective if he set them up better with strikes. He is also competent is the clinch, where a decent amount of his fights take place. He uses his size (6’5″, 265 lbs.) well when controlling his opponent, whether it’s in the clinch or on the mat. On the mat, he’s got good mobility when it comes to gaining advantageous positions. He’s heavy on top and it’s hard to get from the bottom of him. The best part of his ground game is his ground-and-pound, which is absolutely hellacious. Watch his bout with Geronimo dos Santos. The hammers Vyazigin threw on the ground were beyond nasty and sent dos Santos into a deep slumber. If Vyazigin was more threatening with his submissions, his ground would be even more scary.
Quality Experience: What makes Vyazigin a trusted prospect at this point is the fact that he has had a very good strength of schedule in the past three years. Though two of his three losses have come in that time (UFC fighter Klidson Abreu and UFC vet Phil de Fries), he has scored quality wins in that time. Wins on his resume of note are a decision victory over UFC vet Josh Copeland, a knockout of UFC vet Wagner Prado and a knockout of longtime Brazilian veteran Geronimo dos Santos. Those wins prove he can hang at a higher level.
Striking Consistency: On the feet, Vyazigin has shown some holes that are a bit concerning. As seen in his fight with dos Santos, he can be easy to hit. He keeps his hands up, but he doesn’t move to try and get out a position where he is cornered. Against a good striker, he could be susceptible to the knockout. Another problem is that he can be inactive on the feet and wait on his opponent a lot. He does not throw a lot of volume and with that, can be very basic with his “combinations.” Strikes often times can set up takedowns, and as mentioned, his lack of a major threat with throwing set up combos will make it more difficult to score his takedowns.
UFC Prelim Fighter: Vyazigin is clearly a talented young fighter and will someday be in a top promotion in the MMA world. His experience and skill are certainly good enough to be there. He will need to continue to improve, though, especially with his on-the-feet striking. Right now, his ceiling looks to be a heavyweight prelim fighter for the UFC. He may win some, but struggle when he moves up in competition level within the UFC ranks. That may sound like a knock, but it’s not. Getting to the UFC itself is a prestigious achievement, and I certainly think there are winnable fights for the Russian fighter.