Octagon Oracles: Natan Levy

Timo Prinz

Grade: C+

Natan Levy looks to become the third Israeli fighter in UFC-history on Saturday. The 30-year-old Levy is finally making his UFC-debut this weekend. His debut was supposed to be in April, but he had to pull out of the fight due to an injury.

Levy trains under John Wood at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas. He has an undefeated record at 6-0 and holds a karate black belt as well as a black belt in BJJ. Even though Levy has a karate background, I certainly like his ground game better than his stand up. He is very open to being caught on the feet, as you can see in his last fight in the LFA, in which he gets dropped and hurt badly, but is able to survive and win by majority decision.

His takedowns are efficient and without much effort and his top control game is very strong. On the feet, he throws all kind of kicks, some of them being effective, others usually not. His submissions are good, choking his last opponent on the Contender Series out by arm-triangle choke.

Levy is not build really built for the 155 pound weight class he will be competing in this weekend. I would like to see him go back down to featherweight, where he fought the first five fights of his pro career. Fortunately though, he should not have to be worried about that disadvantage in this fight since his opponent Rafa García is also a small lightweight.

I think highly of the team at Syndicate MMA and I believe they are going to do a good job with him to round out his game. His debut opponent now is easier for him to beat than his original opponent in May, Austin Hubbard, since I believe it will be his ground game getting the job done on Saturday night.

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James Colwell

Grade: C

Natan Levy is undefeated so far in his mixed martial arts career, but he hasn’t been tested well enough for me to be confident in his talent leading up to his UFC debut. He has a background in karate and jiu-jitsu and made his amateur debut in 2016, which he won by knockout in less than a minute then followed up with 3 more wins in the next 12 months.

LFA signed him to a contract for his pro debut in 2018 and he won 5 straight fights for them at featherweight. While that sort of record for a quality developmental organization like LFA is usually a great sign for a prospect’s potential, the records of his opponents show that he was never given that tough of a test: 0-0, 2-1, 3-3, 1-0, and 5-3. The last 3 wins all came by decision after he outclassed his first two opponents for submissions, and he never challenged for a title or featured in a main nor co-main event, which indicates to me that the promotion considered him as a prospect that still needed some further development.

However, in November 2020 Levy was given a fight on the Contender Series against Shaheen Santana (6-0), by far his toughest opponent. He looked solid in the fight and showed his karate background with some flashy kicks before reverting to his best gameplan in the second round and taking the fight to the mat for a submission victory. Getting the finish was enough to earn Levy a contract, but Santana was another prospect who I thought wasn’t quite ready to join a major organization and he’s since confirmed that by losing his next fight after the Contender Series.

Levy took on Santana at a 160-pound catchweight, but that was because the fight was on short notice. I’d assumed that he would drop back down to featherweight for his UFC run, but surprisingly he’s decided to stick with lightweight for the time being. He’s a little small for the division at 5’9″ but has good physical strength, so it will be interesting to see where he sticks long-term.

His opponent this weekend is Rafa Garcia, who I was very excited about coming into this year but has started off his UFC career 0-2 against tough competition. Unfortunately for Levy, Garcia is also very skilled on the ground and is a more efficient striker in my eyes, so I don’t see a super clear path to victory for him. I expect this fight to go to a decision since both athletes are well rounded and should have the skills to cancel out the other’s greatest threats, but I ultimately expect Garcia to come out ahead. I feel like Levy may be jumping into the deep end too early in his career, but I also understand that since he’s already 30 he had to take the chance when it presented itself. I thinks he’s a quality fighter but I’d be surprised to see him become a top prospect in the UFC.

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Drew Beaupre

Grade: B

Just over a year after the third-round arm bar that earned him a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, Natan Levy (6-0) will make his UFC debut this weekend against Rafa Garcia. Following a 4-0 amateur career, Levy made his pro debut in LFA in 2018 and put together a 5-0 record in the promotion.

A natural southpaw, Levy’s karate base and kick-heavy striking approach are usually on display right from the opening bell of his bouts. The wide variety of kicks in his arsenal make up the basis of his stand-up, but he’ll also throw a solid straight left and lead right hook when he gets into punching exchanges or needs to open things up for his kicks.

While his background is in karate, a lot of Levy’s best work has been done on the mat. His first two pro bouts ended with quick submissions, and he was able to punch his ticket to the UFC when he arm barred the previously undefeated Shaheen Santana on Contender Series. His ability to control opponents on the ground and hunt for submissions were key factors in his decision wins for LFA as well, particularly in his fight with Ben Lugo where he was dropped in the second round and in serious trouble before getting a takedown and riding the rest of the round out in top position.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sold on Levy following his time in LFA, particularly after that majority decision against Lugo where he was very nearly finished. I actually thought that he looked stronger than he had previously in his catch weight bout for Contender Series. Levy could be reversed in cage clinches and taken down in LFA, but he seemed a lot more powerful in the clinch against a larger man in Santana. Lightweight is a stacked division, but if that catch weight bout is anything to go off of Levy should benefit from not cutting the extra ten pounds to reach featherweight.

His opponent Rafa Garcia (12-2) has his back against the wall here, as he entered the UFC a perfect 12-0 but has lost both his fights for the promotion. The Mexican hits hard enough to rattle Levy if he keeps his chin out, and he also has the wrestling to test if Levy actually is strong enough to compete at lightweight going forward. While I’d be disappointed to see Garcia most likely get cut with a loss, the improvements Levy has made in his wrestling make this a very interesting debut.

I think Levy’s age (30) might hold him back from having time to make the necessary adjustments to really climb in the lightweight division, but his exciting striking and submission game should quickly earn some fans and allow him to put together a decent UFC career.

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