The Prelim Breakout Star is a once per event article that helps fans get to know those who will be entertaining them from the undercard. The intention of the article is not to bring attention to the most talented guy on the preliminary card, but rather one that the common fan may have overlooked or underestimated.
When taking a look at Prelim Breakout Stars, the norm is young and often untested fighters. For the UFC’s return to New England, we look to a UFC debut that is anything but untested.
Nickname – The Mangler
Affiliation – Underdog BJJ
From – Hartford, Connecticut
Height – 5’10”
Weight – 145 lbs (Featherweight)
Record – 22-7 (0-0 UFC)
What makes him impressive
Although he is just making his debut, Saturday night will be Matt Bessette’s 30th professional fight. In his previous 29, the most impressive thing that Bessette has shown off is his ability to sense a finish. When he lands his big shot, he seems to be able to tell whether the finish is there or whether to save his energy. Perhaps the best example of this is his fight with the durable journeyman Kevin Croom. In the fight, Croom took some powerful shots, but Bessette stayed composed. Knowing that his opponent could take shots allowed Bessette to fight deeper into the fight while maintaining his power so that he could eventually land the KO. This sense will serve him well in the UFC as the fighters he’ll face will have far better stamina and durability than his regional opponents.
Why he has been overlooked
When appearing on the first ever Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Bessette had less than an ideal night. After being knocked out by a very tough Kurt Holobaugh, Bessette later found out he had a broken hand. To make matters worse, the fight wound up being called a no contest due to his opponent having used an IV before the fight. Not exactly the impression any fighter would want to leave the public in his most recent large stage fight.
What makes this a good match-up
In his last two fights Enrique Barzola has attempted 27 takedowns. While he’s hit 16 of them, this may not be the avenue to beating a well-versed grappler like Bessette. Bessette holds eight career wins via submission including two by leg lock. Additionally, his takedown defense is much better than the likes of Chris Avila or Moggly Benitez. And when Barzola has had issues getting opponents down, like he did with Kyle Bochniak, he has difficulty winning rounds.
Prelim Breakout Star Record: 134-58-1 (2 NC) (6 DNF)