UFC Fort Lauderdale is fast approaching. There are a plethora of young fighters looking for a breakthrough performance at the event. One of these young fighters is Roosevelt Roberts. “The Predator” possesses all of the tools needed to establish himself as a top young prospect in the UFC‘s lightweight division.
Roosevelt Roberts Evaluation
Impressive Grappling Skills on Contender Series
Roosevelt Roberts was first introduced to UFC fans on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. His performance was spectacular, mainly due to the high level grappling skills that he showcased.
In the first round of his fight against Garrett Gross, Roberts threatened a standing guillotine following the first striking exchange. The two ended up in the clinch up against the fence, where Roberts took Gross down following a knee attempt by Gross.
Roosevelt Roberts dominated that fight from beginning to end. He threatened numerous guilltine chokes throughout the entire fight. Roberts has very long limbs, and used his legs very well to tie up Gross’s.
Another area that Roberts excelled in was wrist control. Gross had nowhere to go the entire time he was on the ground. His legs were tied up, at least one wrist was constantly being attacked, and Roberts worked at a very fast pace on the ground. The following GIF shows Roosevelt Roberts trapping his opponent’s arm with his leg while in mount and landing a barrage of shots that Gross simply could not defend.
The next GIF of various replays from the fight help illustrate Roberts’ pace. The two times that Gross made it to his feet, Roberts immediately sent him right back where he came from. As seen in the GIF, Roberts lands a few big ground and pound shots that came towards the end of the round.
One thing that Roberts did very well was not gassing himself out with ground and pound. Throughout the rounds, Roberts was looking to throw a high volume of strikes on the ground, but no heavy shots. He used the small shots to look for openings for a guillotine. Only towards the end of the round would he start throwing bigger shots in hopes of finishing the fight. That mindset is what allows him to maintain such a high pace while on the ground.
Striking Performance in UFC Debut
In the few striking exchanges that took place in Roosevelt Roberts’ fight against Garrett Gross, Roberts didn’t exactly shine. He didn’t take any serious damage, but it was apparent that he was not very interested in striking. At the TUF 28 Finale, Roberts looked like he really took the time to become more comfortable on the feet. The fight against Darrell Horcher didn’t go to the ground once, but it was completely dominated by Roberts on the feet.
At 6’1″, Roberts is very lanky for the lightweight division. He used that length along with his foot speed very well in striking exchanges with Horcher. At this point, Roberts doesn’t necessarily have the power in his hands to put an opponent away with one shot. But, he is still an effective striker.
The Predator used his jab along with kicks to the legs, body, and head to keep his opponent at range. He got into the pocket, would throw a few strikes, and get out of the pocket clean thanks to his foot speed and head movement. Against Horcher, Roberts’s go-to shot was his right straight.
Unable to strike due to the reach disadvantage, Horcher tried to pressure Roberts back to the fence. This ended up backfiring tremendously for Horcher. Against Gross, Roberts showed that he is more than comfortable with his back to the cage.
Roberts framed with his forearm to create space. When Horcher ducked his head underneath the forearm, his neck was there for the taking.
Matchup at UFC Fort Lauderdale
Roosevelt Roberts’s upcoming opponent Thomas Gifford is making his UFC debut. There isn’t an abundance of information available on him. But, he is on a four-fight win streak, with three of the wins coming via submission. If Gifford likes to grapple, Roberts will likely have many chances to show off his high level jiu-jitsu skills. Or, Roberts might have a lot of respect for Gifford’s grappling abilities. If that’s the case, Roberts will keep the fight standing and look to use his volume striking to open up chances to get the fight to the ground. Roberts has the tools and potential to establish himself as a legitimate up-and-comer in the division.
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