Friday, December 18th, Brazilian featherweight prospect Felipe Froes will be in action for Absolute Championship Akhmat, where he will be looking to defend his championship belt against Marat Balaev. He will be looking for another win, as Froes looks to possibly impress the UFC brass in an attempt to earn a contract. He represents Nova Uniao, a top camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”
Jiu-Jitsu: Unsurprisingly, a fighter from Nova Uniao has good Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills. Froes is good from top or bottom when the fight does hit the mat. From top, he has nasty and accurate ground-and-pound that he uses to rack up damage and advance position. His transitions are very good, as he often is able to get to a better position on the mat. While he is not super aggressive with submissions, he does threaten with them to better his position on the mat. From his back, he is also active and dangerous. His comfort there comes from good submission defense and the fact that he has great sweeps to get from under his opponent. He will also threaten with submissions from his back, mostly to get back to his feet where he can strike.
Kickboxing: Froes is not just a grappler; he’s also a very solid striker. On the feet, he throws a lot of kicks with power and accuracy. He also mixes things up very well, throwing whipping low kicks and strong high kicks in unison. The power in his hands is underrated, as he can put you down with a couple of choice shots. His movement is very good as well, as he comes in and out with relative ease. That said, most of his knockouts happened earlier in his career when he was fighting lower level talent than he has been recently facing. Also, he can keep his hands low and get touched by his opponent more than is desired. Luckily, he has a very good chin, so he’s able to absorb damage.
Wrestling Defense: While Froes is definitely a good grappler, his wrestling defense has been exposed in the past. He can be taken down, and because he’s so confident on the mat, sometimes he’s a little too comfortable fighting off his back. Judges generally don’t see the bottom guy as the guy winning the round. His recent bout against Frantz Slioa continued to show a recent example of him getting taken down, especially early in the fight. Slioa isn’t exactly an NCAA National Champ either. When in the clinch against the cage, he has shown he can get outmuscled as well. Froes has improved, but this is still an area of need.
Decisions, Decisions: Half of Froes’ wins as a pro have come by decision. The MMA world and big bosses clamor for a finisher. Most of those decisions have come has Froes has left the Brazilian regional scene and stepped up in competition. However, his last two losses on his record to Kurban Taigibov and Salman Zhamaldaev were both close decisions; a majority decision and a split decision, respectively. Those fights could have easily gone either way, but because he left it up to the judges, he took the initiative to win convincingly away from himself. He has since avenged the split loss to Zhamaldaev, but it was again by decision.
UFC Midcarder: Froes is very talented, there is no question about that. That’s why he’s the ACA Featherweight Champion. His well-roundedness and high-quality skills could easily transition over to the UFC, where there are more than a few winnable fights for the Brazilian. That said, the UFC featherweight division is full of top-level wrestlers that could give him trouble. Once he got to the top half of the division, he may see up and down results. However, he’s definitely a guy that could stick around for a while and net some solid victories. He may even find himself on a few main card fights.