Welcome to the UFC: Gaetano Pirrello

Chartway Arena, UFC Norfolk Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

After UFC Fight Island 7 on Saturday, the octagon returns just days later, on a Wednesday for UFC Fight Island 8. The card is headlined between two welterweight contenders in Neil Magny and Michael Chiesa. Also on the docket is a load of rising up-and-comers and a slew of UFC debuts. One of those debuting fighters is Gaetano Pirrello, who has a tough test ahead of him in Ricky Simon (16-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC).

Gaetano “El Tigre” Pirrello
Mons, Belgium
Osman Gym
11 KO/TKOs
3 Submissions

How will Pirrello fare in the UFC:

Pirrello reminds me in style-wise of former UFC fighter Daniel Teymur. Pirrello is a brawler but with a lot of flaws. Pirrello struggles badly with takedown defense having little balance or defense against the cage. Where he shines the most is in the clinch with his Muay Thai plum, where he has relentless knees. He even throws knees in combos really well.

Pirrello is explosive and that’s from throwing with his body, in pretty much everything he throws. He is really sloppy however and he throws himself off balance quite a bit. Pirrello is a buzzsaw with his output but he won’t go far just throwing wild. On the defensive side, his head movement and footwork need improvement. His takedown defense will hold him back, and defensive grappling he needs a lot of work.

  • Striking: C-
  • Kickboxing: C-
  • Clinch: B-
  • Wrestling: C-
  • Grappling: D
  • Striking Defense: C-
  • Takedown Defense: D-
  • Cardio: B-
  • Biggest Strength: Muay Thai
  • Biggest Weakness: TDD

How Pirrello matches up with Simon:

This is a mismatch if I’ve ever seen one, at least on paper. Ricky Simon has wins over Merab Dvalishvili and Ray Borg, and has shared the cage with Rob Font and Urijah Faber. The only shot Pirrello has is to knock Simon out, and he just doesn’t have that in his arsenal. Simon is the more equipped fighter on the feet but he could easily just ground Pirrello and win the fight from there.