Despite missing weight for his Contender Series 2021 bout, Jake Hadley’s stoppage of Mitch Raposo impressed Dana White enough to still earn a UFC contract.
The Englishman is a perfect 8-0 as a pro with six wins via stoppage, four of them in the first-round. Hadley captured the Cage Warriors flyweight title in a dominant performance in his last pre-Contender Series bout, and he also won the EFC Worldwide flyweight title back in 2019.
“White Kong” is a natural southpaw and relies on his sharp jab to keep opponents from coming forward. Ideally he prefers to control the center and force opponents to circle around the edge of the cage while he stalks them, and once he establishes his jab he’ll start to follow up with straight left hands. Hadley will vary his punches a little bit in close but gets the majority of his striking offense done with that 1-2. The Englishman also has a nice rear kick to the body that he uses in combination with punches to punish the open side of his opponents.
Hadley is comfortable striking as long as he can dictate the pace, but he showed in his Cage Warriors title bout that he’ll go to the ground as soon as he doesn’t like what’s happening on the feet. Luke Shanks clipped Hadley early in the first-round and “White Kong” responded by immediately hitting a double-leg takedown. This largely set the tone for the rest of the fight; Shanks would start each subsequent round aggressively and try to pressure Hadley, only to find himself on the mat with Hadley establishing top control. The Englishman looks to pass guard quickly after hitting takedowns so he can land strikes from the top. He’s even more dangerous if opponents give up their backs to try and get up, as half of his career victories have come via rear-naked choke.
While the decision to grapple with Shanks certainly worked out well, it did come as a result of Shanks applying pressure in much the same way Hadley prefers to do. “White Kong” looked open to striking with Shanks until he ate a hard shot early, so it will be interesting to see how Hadley deals with other fighters that apply pressure and aren’t taken down as easily as Shanks was. Hadley has also been a bit susceptible to leg kicks, and the high guard he uses in striking exchanges often leaves his body exposed.
The Englishman will have a stiff test for his debut against veteran Allan Nascimento. Nascimento came up short in his own UFC debut last year with a split-decision loss to Tagir Ulanbekov, but the Brazilian’s grappling skills should match-up well with Hadley’s own.
Flyweight is one of the UFC’s deepest divisions, but given his skillset and youth I think Hadley can have a lot of success if he continues to develop his game.
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