Octagon Oracles: Former EFC heavyweight champion Jared Vanderaa

Jared Vanderaa throws a jab. Credit: Dave Mandel.

Vanderaa is a rare heavyweight that had to take the long route to finally get to the UFC; it took him fifteen fights under his belt to get in the UFC. To get more notice Vanderaa fought for EFC the South African promotion and two fights in he became their titleholder.

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.

Jared Vanderaa

It seemed that every time Vanderaa got close to the UFC, he’d run into a wall. With that said, a fight and a win last summer on the Contender Series finally allowed him to put pen to paper.

His opponent is Moldovan-Ukrainian Sergey Spivak. He’s 2-2 in the UFC, but losses are to Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura. Vanderaa has the overall experience advantage but the high-level experience easily goes to Spivak. Spivak is the favorite leading into this fight and a tough debut for Vanderaa

Shawn Bitter

Grade: D+

On paper Vanderaa deserves to get a chance in the UFC. As a heavyweight that is on a winning streak and still young at 28, he’s quite rare. His time in LFA, winning a title in South Africa, and beating even Tony Lopez looks pretty good on his resume.

Unlike a lot of heavyweights, Vanderaa is durable and has an iron chin. The problem is he’s relying on his toughness way too much. He’s flat-footed and is extremely easy to hit. No matter how tough he is, getting hit the way he does is not good. Especially at heavyweight, and especially in the UFC.

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: C

Vanderaa has a big challenge ahead of him when he fights Sergey Spivak in his UFC debut. Vanderaa is only 28 with a record of 11-4, with his most notable victory against Tony Lopez (64-31). As much as I want to get excited about a new heavyweight making his debut, I don’t see him doing well in the UFC, hence why I give a C.

My reasoning is because I don’t think he’s fought great opponents and he’s lost to guys that are 5-2, 4-3, and the other two losses were his steps up in competition to Andrew Van Zyl 15-3 and Richard Odoms 12-3.

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: C

I watch Vanderaa and I pretty much see a middling heavyweight. He swings wildly, he gets taken down, he can get the occasional rough takedown himself. He has some losses to some mediocre fighters, some wins over mediocre and bad fighters.

Vanderaa is a guy that doesn’t dictate how the fight goes, he just kind of lets it go where it goes. I’m not really crazy about that. I want a fighter to have one elite skill and he doesn’t really have it. I see Vanderaa as a guy that will be a 50-50 fighter that is in a bunch of close, greasy decisions.

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: C-

Vanderaa’s a great example of how different the standards are at heavyweight. That’s not to say he’s bad – in fact, other heavyweights could learn a thing or two from him. He throws a lot of leg kicks, occasionally even with his lead leg, and mixes in enough body kicks to keep his opponent guessing. He checks his opponent’s leg kicks. He’s good at mixing in strikes during a wrestling ride. He’s got impressive cardio and a good chin.

That being said, none of those things would be enough to get you into the UFC at bantamweight, and his flaws would keep him out. He throws one strike at a time, with no deviation. His only response to getting hit seems to be to throw a left hook and hope it makes his opponent stop hitting him. I suspect that anyone in the UFC who can force extended exchanges will easily dismantle him. He got blitzed by a far-inferior opponent in his Contender Series fight, and after Vanderaa’s counter left hook missed, he ended up turning and running away sideways across the entire length of the cage while eating punches.

At 28, Vanderaa definitely has the time and foundation to become something serious. Unfortunately, in the present, I don’t see his UFC run going well.

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: C-

I want to say Vanderaa going to win his next fight just by proxy that anyone who beats Tony Lopez is amazing, but Sergey Spivak also managed to beat Tony, so we’re back to the drawing board. Vanderaa is a big man who is very, very capable of finishing fights. At 6’4 he absolutely fits the bill as a heavyweight and he’s been fighting some decent fighters his entire career.

However, whenever I think a fighter is going to lose their debut, I immediately start to think they’re not going to achieve much. Vanderaa’s weakness appears to be his jiu-jitsu, and Spivak has 5 submissions to his name. I think Spivak takes this fight which immediately puts Vanderaa on the chopping block. That being said, he’s a legitimate heavyweight with a decent record. I can’t say that’s a bad signing on UFC’s part.

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: C-

Jared Vanderaa is an experienced and highly-ranked prospect coming out of California, but he’s best known for his time in the South African EFC promotion, where he became a heavyweight champion. Vanderaa won his first five pro bouts before dropping three of his next four. Since then, he’s won five of six, capturing gold in both the EFC and SMASH Global.

Vanderaa possesses some devastating power, as was on display in his first-round knockout of Harry Hunsucker on DWCS. His grappling is only decent at best, however, and it’s definitely not on par with some of the likes he’d face in the UFC, including his debut opponent, Spivak. Vanderaa will probably need to be a guy who gets early finishes in his hands to find bonuses and any other successes in the Octagon.

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