Carlo Pedersoli Jr. steps up on short notice for the biggest fight of his career Saturday against Alex Oliveira as the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 137 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Pedersoli was relatively unknown before his shocking victory over Nicolas Dalby last April, but at only 25 years-old he is already efficient everywhere a mixed martial arts fight could take him.
Although most of his wins are by submission, Pedersoli has a background in karate and it shows through his techniques and tendencies inside the cage. He stands like a standard Karateka with a wide base, hands low, an upright torso and loves his left straight, also known as the gyaku zuki in the ancient martial art.
Like most karate-based fighters in MMA, Pedersoli stands southpaw and generally works on the counter. His money punch is a retreating counter-left straight that he can land in a variety of ways from many different angles. As a lefty, he likes to take an outside angle to set up the left, but he will occasionally take a deep inside angle and punch across himself to land it. Punching across yourself is almost always a bad idea, but it’s unexpected and can catch opponents off guard despite the defensive liabilities.
Pedersoli doesn't box on the lead often, but when he does it’s usually a simple 1-2 combo or a naked-left straight. Although he throws mostly single strikes with no setups, notice how he uses hand fighting to set up the left straight. He will either push the opponents’ lead hand down to manipulate their defense or keep his hand on their lead while circling to the outside to achieve the southpaw outside angle. This is a favorite set up of fellow Italian Kickboxer Giorgio Petrosyan known to some as the “Petrosyan turn.”
If he does work on the lead, he is much more likely to throw kicks than punches. Again, most of his kicks are single strikes with no setups, but his timing rhythm manipulation is enough for them to land. His go-to leading kick is what some call a monkey kick or capoeira kick, although it has no official name. It looks like a standard round kick but notice how Pedersoli will dip far to his right before throwing it to manipulate the opponents’ defensive timing, allowing it to land over the top at a delayed speed after they have dropped their hands.
In his first UFC fight earlier this year, Pedersoli showed a new wrinkle to his game with these snapping jabs. He can land from an inside or outside angle and mostly uses them to stop his opponents’ forward movement rather than to set up other strikes. As a slow-paced fighter, this newly-found jab could work wonders for him against aggressive opponents, but it would be nice to see him also use it to set up his leading strikes.
Pedersoli’s striking might garner most of the attention but he is also very well rounded on the ground and has four submission victories. He has also shown to have aggressive ground-and-pound that he uses to fluster opponents and set them up for submissions. If Pedersoli had a full camp, a lot of people would take him to run away with this one, but taking a fight on short notice against a seasoned vet like Oliveria could spell trouble for the young prospect.