There are some who are simply meant for larger achievements, and their performances reflect that motivation. Meanwhile, others who possess developed traits struggle against more experienced competition. The ones who pass the test move on to face tougher obstacles, and those who struggle discover there is much more work to be done.
Let's take a look at some top-ranked prospects who stepped into the cage last weekend.
Heavyweight / 6-0 Professional / 26 years old
In a day and age when new heavyweight talent is lacking across major mixed martial arts promotions, it is hard to come across a heavyweight who is as athletic, quick, and, not to mention, young as Ontario's Adam Dyczka (No. 1-ranked FloCombat heavyweight).
Nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda," Dyczka has the potential to become Canada's next big star, but there are definitely some aspects of his game that need to be sharpened in order for him to get there.
His heavy hands and ability to impose his will against his opponents allowed him to compile an unblemished record in his first 10 bouts. Through his first five professional bouts, Dyczka never saw the distance, knocking out all foes placed in front of him.
The 6-foot-3, 265-pounder entered Friday night at TKO 40 in Montreal with a chip on his shoulder, looking to pick up a victory that would potentially propel him into the somewhat shallow UFC heavyweight division.
Standing in Dyczka's way and looking to halt the hype train was Ricardeau Francois, a 24-fight veteran. Francois had not fought for over six-and-a-half years, with his last bout (a loss) being against now ranked UFC light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov in March 2011.
The bout kicked off with Dyczka clinching up Francois and immediately making things dirty. It was obvious right away that Dyczka was the much stronger man, having his way with the much lighter and lankier Francois. Upon separation, Dyczka utilized his signature jab, straight, and leg kick combination.
Francois had an equally difficult time in the Muay Thai department, as he was met with Dyczka's brutal knees before an impressive combination put Francois on the canvas 4:11 into the first round. Dyczka kept the streak alive, finishing his sixth straight professional fight inside the distance.
FloCombat Grade: A-
BREAKDOWN: With mixed martial arts heavyweights, the threshold of talent signed by a large promotion is much lower compared to lighter divisions.
Oftentimes fighters who appear to not be "UFC caliber" are signed, and some even have a solid amount of success at 265 pounds. Dyczka, however, is different.
The talented prospect is improving each and every fight. If he was in a different division, it would probably be a good idea for him to get a couple more reps in, but he can most likely get those fights under the bright lights. His clinch game, pressure, and power would liven up the UFC's heavyweight division from a prospect perspective, and a promotion to the Octagon would provide him with the competition level he needs to grow as a professional.
Regardless of when, there is no doubt this big man from north of the border will be able to tack "UFC heavyweight" next to his name sooner or later.
Light Heavyweight/ 8-1 Professional / 27 Years Old
The entire TKO 40 fight card was stacked with Canadian talent, but the main event of the night was especially noteworthy in that it pinned TKO's proclaimed "best middleweight," Quebec's Marc-André Barriault, against its "best light heavyweight," the somewhat controversial Todd "The Black Hulk" Stoute.
Barriault came into the bout riding a four-fight winning streak, with three knockout victories in that span stretching back to late 2015. An already promising prospect in the middleweight division, Barriault decided to nix his weight cut and move up to light heavyweight for the bout.
The bout began with Barriault wasting no time. After some harmless and ineffective clinch work from against the cage, it became evident when the two let their hands go that Barriault was the much quicker man. Within minutes, Barriault had already hurt and knocked down Stoute, who in turn showed that there was quite a discrepancy between the two fighters in the wrestling department. Stoute's switches and overall wrestling abilities dwarfed that of Barriault's in the first round, and in the entire bout as a whole.
In the second round, Stoute decided to skip the exchanges on the feet and went straight to the ground. After being controlled by Stoute for the first half of the round, Barriault surprised many by reversing the roles and pulling the switch on Stoute. The two remained there for the remainder of the round.
The third and final round began with the fight up for grabs. Both men tested themselves on the feet before Stoute took the fight to the cage, grinding Barriault in the clinch for most of the first three minutes. A brief break in the action due to an illegal knee didn't slow Stoute's pacing, as he finished off the fight with a few shots and a takedown attempt to follow.
The bout went to the judges' cards with Barriault defeating Stoute in a controversial split decision.
FloCombat Grade: C
BREAKDOWN: It was a close fight that should have gone in favor of Stoute.
Barriault gets a big nod for moving up 20 pounds to take on a tough opponent. That is no easy task, and when it came to strength, there actually wasn't too much of a discrepancy between the two fighters.
Barriault's striking is fairly good, and his quick hands and length come into play in that realm. However, Barriault has a lot to work on when it comes to his grappling prowess. Stoute was able to takedown Barriault with relative ease and was able to pull switches to reverse Barriault multiple times throughout the fight.
Barriault is still young for either division, especially so if he continues to fight at light heavyweight, but he must build up his skills if he wants to make it to the big show. His record is impressive, but he may need at least one more strong performance before he gets the call. A return to middleweight is perhaps the best move for him right now. His previous bouts indicate Barriault is much better than what he showed, so hopefully in his next bout he can put a stamp on his UFC entry ticket.
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