Ocagon Oracles: Eternal MMA strawweight titleist Casey O’Neill

Casey O'Neill wins emphatically. Credit: Eternal MMA, O'Neill, Instagram.

The former Eternal MMA strawweight champion before moving up to flyweight here recently, Casey O’Neill (5-0) is a top prospect with a significant amount of hype behind her.

In this piece, several of MMA-Prospects’ staff writers will give their predictions for how each prospect making their debut in the coming weekend will face during their UFC tenure.

Casey O’Neill

Casey O’Neill comes into the UFC with a small but impressive record at 5-0. Born in Scotland but from Queensland, Australia, O’Neill is a product out of the Tiger Muay Thai team under George Hickman. Her recent win in UAE Warriors is what got her signed to the UFC.

In her debut, she will be taking on the .500 record in Shanna Dobson (4-4). Dobson was a huge underdog in her last fight against Mariya Agapova at +1000. She winded up beating Agapova for the biggest upset of 2020. Again, she is an underdog in this fight but not to the same degree.

Shawn Bitter

Grade: B

As a prospect, there’s a lot to love about O’Neill. She is oozing with talent. That said, at only 5-0, and from what she’s shown so far, at least three more fights under her belt on the regional scene would have been nice. Where O’Neill is best is when she’s on the mat working her jiu-jitsu. Once on the mat, she immediately shows that she’s extremely aggressive. O’Neill doesn’t have the heaviest ground and pound but she will relentlessly throw punches and elbows making her opponent’s life difficult.

No matter where she’s at on the mat, O’Neill is working to finish or improve her position. Even off her back she’s constantly fighting the wrist, throwing up her legs, creating space, and scrambling to get back on top.

O’Neill trains out of Tiger Muay Thai so you know she’s working like crazy to improve her stand-up. O’Neill throws nice leg kicks and with her hands, she’s aggressive with output in her forward motion. She is slow at getting her hands back to her face and her inability to move her head results in her getting hit too easily. Getting hit with no real issue is actually her biggest issue. Walking forward and eating shots coming in is a big concern because eventually, O’Neill is going to find someone that will make her pay.

The potential is there, and at only 22, it may take some time but she will get there.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Kristen King

Grade: C

Casey O’Neill is a young, undefeated talent that is certainly a welcome presence in the women’s flyweight division of the UFC. O’Neill excels on the ground and has virtually no issue getting her opponent down. Once she gets there, she completely overwhelms them with ground and pound. As proficient as she is on the ground, O’Neill may not be as complete in the striking department, but she can hold her own.

I believe that as time goes on, O’Neill will improve not only her striking but its defense as well and become a contender in due time. With what we know right now, I grade O’Neill with a neutral C because I am confident that she makes these improvements and can only get better as a fighter.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Joseph Shaw

Grade: B

I think O’Neill is a very impressive prospect, and she has fought good promotions like Eternal MMA and UAE Warriors. She is 5-0 as a pro and at 23 years old, has already made an impact, beating opponents with a 6-3 record and 5-1 — with only having five fights, that’s solid opposition.

She has been given a nice match-up here against Dobson and I think O’Neill will make a very good first impression. I do believe she is exactly what flyweight needs right now as they need new contenders on the rise. I think she could make a run for the title but I need to see more of her as she’s very young still, but I see her having a very bright future.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Zac Herbison

Grade: B-

I like Casey O’Neill. A lot. She’s well-rounded and fights smart. On the feet, she pokes with jabs and low kicks often. She mixes up single strikes and combinations well. Her defense seems questionable, though – she gets countered by people who will never make it to the UFC. Her defense will likely be what holds her back. On the ground, O’Neill is prolific with her elbows from every position. Those who attempt to take her down frequently get sprawled on, elbowed, then have their back taken. A BJJ purple belt, she wins many rounds by beating her opponent up from their back – she’s great at striking from back mount.

However, my favorite move of hers is a little different. If she’s hurting someone on the ground, but having trouble finishing them due to her opponent’s stalling, she’ll throw a flurry of elbows, then back off and stand them up before they can recover. There’s something brutal, yet calculating about forcing her hurt opponent to return to striking with her.

I can’t wait to see more.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Vince Rodemer

Grade: A

I’ve been intrigued by O’Neill for a while. She’s very young at 23, but still has a lot of experience. She started fighting at 17 and is training at Tiger Muay Thai with the likes of the Shevchenko sisters. There are a lot of elite strikers there and that has to help her grow as a fighter. She has three decision wins, so she has the proven cardio and also has a submission and a TKO on her ledger. The interesting part of O’Neill is that she will infuse a new name into the flyweight division that is basically just a bunch of women her teammate, Valentina Shevchenko, has already destroyed.

I believe that she could be a contender. Maybe not after this weekend or even her second fight, but in a few years. They need to bring her along slowly, which they clearly are with a matchup with Shana Dobson, who was on her way out the door before a huge upset as a +1000 dog in her last fight.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Gary Friel

Grade: B-

It’s going to be difficult for me to remain unbiased here as I’ve been touting my countrywoman Casey O’Neill for some time. O’Neill was ripping it up in Australia before winning last time out at UAE Warriors, an outstanding decision, as it positioned her close to the action on Fight Island. O’Neill has been scooped up by UFC now and the most notable thing about her is her experience training at Tiger Muay Thai. That might be the best gym in MMA today, especially for a female, and with a wealth of UFC experience in front of her, O’Neill has every resource available to be a great fighter. Shana Dobson will be a very difficult opponent. Her 4-4 record doesn’t do her justice.

However, I think O’Neill is a good pick-up for the UFC, and win or lose, she’ll be around for a while.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Tom Albano

Grade: B-

Mainly a kickboxer by trade, Scottish-born Casey O’Neill trained multiple martial arts since a young age and made her amateur MMA debut as a teenager, losing her first two amateur fights, before taking two years off to improve her skills. The result? O’Neill won five straight amateur bouts upon her return and is now a perfect 5-0 as a pro. Her dedication has earned her a spot as one of, if not, the best female prospects in the Oceanic region.

Mainly competing for her father’s Eternal MMA promotion, O’Neill was a strawweight champ — though competing against similarly low-experienced competition. Since moving up to flyweight, however, O’Neill has scored wins over opponents with fairly better records. Now comes another test against a more experienced foe and another opportunity to impress.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion