Prospect in the Spotlight (Oct 15-16): Anton Turkalj

Introduction

Tuesday, October 12, Swedish light heavyweight prospect Anton Turkalj will be in action for Dana White’s Contender Series, where he will be looking to stay undefeated against Kaloyan Kolev. He will be looking for another win, as Turkalj looks to score a contract with the UFC. He represents GBG MMA, a smaller camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Rounded Ground Game: Turkalj has shown a penchant for some good takedowns and grappling from the top position. When he closes the distance, he uses his wrestling affectively from both the outside and the clinch. He’s not going to overpower you like your meat-and-potatoes American collegiate wrestler, but he is effective nonetheless. Once on the mat, he has solid jiu-jitsu skills. He’s good at gaining a position to score a finish, which includes slicing through the defenses to get to a position to score a big ground-and-pound stoppage or a submission. Turkalj also has great grip strength, as he’s able to quickly squeeze his opponent’s neck once presented to him.

Power Striking: Turkalj isn’t a master technician on the feet, but that doesn’t matter when he has one-shot KO capabilities, as we have seen from him in the past. He’s an aggressive striker, generally fighting off his front foot and getting his opponent uncomfortable. His most spectacular knockout came in his most recent outing, when he stiffened Konstantin Soldatov with a beautiful spinning back fist. A lot of his knockouts do come from ground-and-pound, which is also a scary weapon in his arsenal.

Needs Improvement

Striking Defense: One thing I have noticed about Turkalj on the feet is that he can throw with too much reckless abandon and leave himself open to counter striking. When he starts feeling it he will wing punches that can be telegraphed and leave his head on the center line with nothing to protect him. If a guy is patient enough and technical enough they will evade those power hooks and time a punch that can land with devastating effect. That’s especially because he moves forward with such brutish force.

Outlook

UFC Prelim Fighter: Turkalj is definitely a UFC caliber guy, and I think he’s being set up with a test run fight here with Kolev, who has been a notorious can crusher in Europe. I think the UFC is just getting him a fight here to get one more look at him without the risk of him getting beat by a more skilled light heavyweight on the season this year like a Nasrudin Nasrudinov or Azamat Murzakanov. When he gets to the UFC roster, he will definitely have winnable fights, but he may struggle against a roster that has some superior wrestlers. I think he will win some and lose some, but will be a guy that takes a minimum of 4-5 fights with the company.

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