By Felix Rodriguez, Staff Writer
HOUSTON, TX, November 12, 2012 – Robert Drysdale’s (4-0) career as a professional mixed-martial artist has been methodically progressing over the last two years. Drysdale’s fifth professional fight will take place on November 16th in Houston, Texas at the Houston Arena Theatre when he returns to action against Chris ‘The Celtic Tiger” Reed at Legacy FC 15.
When Drysdale learns to use his 6’3 frame and 78-inch reach to strike comfortably in combination with his vaunted jiu-jitsu skills this intriguing prospect will be a feared contender at the highest level. If his first four fights are any indication of what is to come then light heavyweights who value their limbs should take notice; Mr. Drysdale likes tapping people and he may be coming for you in the near future.
This Friday, Reed will look to break Drysdale’s streak of four consecutive submissions, which he’s needed an average of just over 90 seconds to execute. If Drysdale wins again a stiffer challenge should be waiting in the wings, but before we worry about his current and future opponents lets look at the progression of his brief career and growth as a mixed martial artist.
Drysdale’s debut was at Armageddon Fighting Championships 3 against Bastien Huveneers back in July 2010. Huveneers’ record at the time was 9-2-1 and included a loss to current UFC prospect Francis Carmont with all his losses coming by submission. Coming off of three consecutive TKO wins, the consensus was that Huveneers stood a punchers chance, but the reality was much different. The fight quickly went to the ground where Drysdale had side control and Huveneers was pressed against the fence. The fight was over when Huveneers tried to push off of Drysdale’s neck allowing Drysdale to isolate the arm and work the submission. Drysdale hopped into a brief mount and then smoothly transitioned by crossing over to finish an arm triangle from side control at the 1:12 mark. Huveneers has gone 1-2 since then.
For his sophomore performance Drysdale was matched with Clay Davidson, who had a 5-1 record at the time. Davidson was enjoying a five-fight win streak, his opponents had a combined record of 26-18 and on paper he looked like a step up in competition. The problem was that both fighters shared the same strength so Davidson’s chances of extending his submission streak to 6-in-a-row were unlikely. The fight started with a brief exchange in which Davidson got the best of Drysdale. After less than 30 seconds of stand-up Drysdale lead with a left hook to close the distance securing the clinch for a right leg trip takedown. Davidson ended atop in half-guard, but Drysdale used his elite ground skills to secure butterfly guard and then transition from closed guard into a flower sweep/armbar combo. Davidson fought valiantly, but succumbed to the armbar at the 2:06 mark after being softened up with punches to the face. This fight showed that Drysdale could stay collected after being punched and impose his game on an opponent. Davidson has gone 1-1 since his fight with Drysdale.
After nearly a year between matches Drysdale was paired with Mike Nickels for his third fight. Nickels was pushing 40 at the time, but had some name recognition from his days with Zuffa. Nickels résumé included a win against Wes Sims and a loss to Stephan Bonnar in the UFC. Nickels had an 8-5 record with six wins by way of submission; he was 1-2 in his last three fights before facing Drysdale, one loss coming at the hands of Vinny Magalhaes, another jiu-jitsu ace. Unfortunately for Nickels, the Drysdale fight would be more of the same. Drysdale used a lead in overhand to duck under and immediately secured a single leg, dragging Nickels to the ground and transitioning to side control. Nickels, an experienced grappler in his own right, tried to initiate scrambles in hopes of recovering position and standing up. He tried to control one of Drysdale’s legs when turning on his knees on his final scramble, an error that Drysdale capitalized on mercilessly when he snatched Nickels neck and rolled with him into a very tight guillotine that proved to be inescapable. The fight was over after 1:04 seconds of the first round. Nickels has not fought since.
Drysdale would wait more than a year to face his fourth opponent, Isaac Villanueva. This choice was a bit of a head-scratcher because Villanueva was an unquestionable step down in level of competition for him. Mike Nickels had name value despite his Journeyman status whereas ‘Hurricane Ike’ was 7-6, he had gone 2-3 in his last five fights and had no signature wins. A potential banana-peel to slip on, Villanueva was served as meat on a hook for Drysdale’s Legacy Fighting Championship debut. Drysdale did not disappoint his new bosses. He showed improved footwork and looked more comfortable on his feet this fight. Though his chin seemed high at times, he moved around well looking to establish range with some pawing jabs and even threw a front kick before initiating the inevitable takedown. Drysdale used a lunging overhand to shoot for a double leg, but quickly switched to a single to land the takedown after pushing Villanueva against the fence. Villanueva gave up his back in the scramble that ensued once they hit the floor and Drysdale secured back control by locking a figure-four around his waist. Villanueva defended the choke correctly by trying to control Drysdale’s arms, but Drysdale took a page from Toquinho’s book emulating his UFC 84 win against Ivan Salaverry by transitioning beautifully into an armbar from the back. It took Drysdale less than four minutes to go 4-0, Villanueva is 0-3 in his last three fights and has not seen action since fighting him.
Drysdale has put together four consecutive submission victories in the first round. He has looked increasingly comfortable on his feet during the little ring time he has accumulated through his pro-career, looking impressive while fighting opponents that have played to his strengths. Watching Drysdale’s first four fights is like watching Royce or Rickson fighting in the early days of this great sport.
Drysdale has used classic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, faking strikes to close the distance, clinch and bring it to the ground in order to earn quick submissions while receiving little to no damage. He has looked impressive in all of his wins; bringing things to his comfort zone at will. Unfortunately, when gauging his progression that is a bit of a problem. Maybe his jiu-jitsu is that dominant, but until Drysdale faces stiffer competition and we see him pushed in a fight where he can’t land the takedown and is forced to actually land a significant strike we won’t know for sure what his ceiling could be. That said, the future looks bright for Robert Drysdale and if he continues his winning ways bigger and better things await him for sure, and with them will come new challengers that may push this talented fighter to his full potential.