Prospect in the Spotlight (Aug 7-8): Kevin Syler

Introduction

Tuesday, August 4th, Bolivian lightweight prospect Kevin Syler was supposed to be in action on Dana White’s Contender Series, where he was looking to continue his undefeated streak against Kenny Cross. He was looking for another win, as Syler looks to impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract that he could have had last year, had he not missed weight. Unfortunately, he pulled out of the fight several days before it was to go down. He represents American Top Team, a top camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Well-Rounded: Offensively, there aren’t a lot of holes in Syler’s game. On the feet, he has very good boxing skills, as seen in last season’s bout with Lance Lawrence. He moves well, utilizes the jab effectively and throws nice combos with his hands. On the mat, he has shown his most devastating. He’s very good at submissions and has a wide variety of tapouts on his resume. He’s scored tapouts via triangle choke, heel hook, guillotine choke, arm-triangle choke and rear-naked choke. He’s aggressive in looking to finish the fight, as opposed to a lay-and-pray approach. That well-roundedness makes him tough to choose where to fight him in the cage.

Quality Experience: In his 10 pro fights, Syler has rarely taken on an inexperienced opponent or one of highly questionable standards. Half of his opponents have had eight fights or more to their record at the time Syler fought them. That means he is getting quality cage time when he does leave the gym and hone his craft. In addition to fighting on the Contender Series, he’s also gotten a two big-show fights with Combate, which means he won’t be shy once the cameras are rolling to a large audience. A lot of guys build their records crushing cans. Syler, obviously, is trying to sharpen iron with iron.

Needs Improvement

Wrestling Question Marks: Although a strong grappler with a track record of impressive submission wins, there are still some questions in my mind of Syler’s defensive wrestling. He’s yet to really face a notable wrestler, which the lightweight division in the UFC has an abundance of. Facing a guy like that would really make him more cautious in his striking and make him fight more tactically to avoid getting put on his back. That said, he can get that experience in this fight against Cross, who is a noted wrestler. Perhaps, these question marks will be cleared up come fight night.

Outlook

UFC Midcarder: I was really impressed with Syler on last year’s Contender Series despite missing weight. He’s now moved up a weight class, so my assumption will be that he won’t have that problem again here, especially seeing as it definitely cost him a contract a year ago. Syler is a well-rounded guy who has improved from fight to fight. His time with American Top Team has definitely made him a prospect to watch that will have success at the next level. Plus, he’s only 26 years old. That means he could be on his way to reaching his peak, which would make him a tough out for anybody in the UFC lightweight division.

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