Prospect in the Spotlight (Oct 30-31): Santo Curatolo

Introduction

Sunday, October 30th, American flyweight prospect Santo Curatolo will be in action for CFFC, where he will be looking to continue his undefeated streak against Alberto Trujillo. He will be looking for another win, as Curatolo looks to impress the UFC brass and potentially earn a contract with the company. He represents Nick Catone MMA & Fitness, an underrated camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Wrestling: Curatolo’s background as an amateur wrestler is impressive. He wrestled at a national level, and it makes sense. First off, Curatolo is very hard to get down. In fact, in the footage I have seen on him as a mixed martial artist, I don’t believe he’s been taken down. He also has that offensive takedown game in his arsenal. He’s physically strong. In fact, he has one of the most physically impressive physiques for a flyweight I have seen. He’s strong against the cage and equally suffocating from top position. In addition to his wrestling, he’s also solid on the mat. Under the guidance of a ground fighter like Nick Catone, you can see why. He has some submission skills and is effective from the top using his ground-and-pound as well.

Power Striking: While Curatolo’s wrestling is quite impressive, the skill he’s seen for in MMA, especially since his last fight, is his power striking. As stated, the dude is a physical specimen. When he throws strikes, he lands with great effect. When people think of 125-pounders, they generally don’t think of one-punch KO power most of the time. With Curatolo, he has that because he’s such a brute. Four of his five wins come by way of knockout, including via a kick, showing he’s not just a boxer. His most recent fight, a main event slot with the CFFC Flyweight Championship on the line, saw him absolute murk James Mancini with a one-punch KO. It took him just 65 seconds to complete that task. He landed a short punch to the jaw of Mancini and that was it. He’s also dangerous early with those strikes, as all of his stoppages (including the one submission) have come in the first round. His longest outing? 3:48.

Needs Improvement

Experience/Step Up In Competition: The only knock I can put on Curatolo at this point is that he still requires some experience and a step up in competition before he has a solid green light. Curatolo is just 5-0 as a pro, with a 2-0 amateur record. As a pro, the combined records of his opponents are 13-6, which while not terrible, amounts to 3.8 total fights per opponent. His most experienced opponent was 6-4 James Mancini. It makes sense that he fights these guys while still a young pro, but going forward, he will have to challenge himself with a step up in competition. That will really give us an idea of where he is now and what he needs to do to get to the next level. He’s on the right track right now, though.

Outlook

UFC Contender: Curatolo has all the tools to be a major name in the the UFC flyweight division. He’s a top-level athlete with well-rounded skills and the physical gifts that many 125ers don’t have. He’s only 25 years old and he’s already this good. That shows his ceiling to be very high. He can strike with you, he can wrestle you, he can grapple you; there is no real place Curatolo struggles. First on his plate is Alberto Trujillo. A win over Trujillo, especially in impressive fashion, should net Curatolo a contract from the UFC to help fill a division that is still shallow in the amount of talent they have. If he gets to the UFC, it doesn’t take many wins to get in the title talks. He may build himself up slow, as he’s still young and in need of experience, but it won’t take him too long to get there.

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