Welcome to the UFC: Casey O’Neill

Casey O'Neill makes her octagon debut at UFC Vegas 19
Christina Stelliou vs Casey O'Neill (top) Credit: UAE Warriors

At last weekend’s UFC 258 we saw Kamaru Usman retain his title, Alexa Grasso put her name forward as a serious contender, Kelvin Gastelum back in the win column, and much more. Coming up, UFC Vegas 19 is headlined by two heavyweight contenders: Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. This card has a slew of UFC sophomore performances and many debuts are set. One of those is the Scottish native Casey O’Neill. She will be taking on Shana Dobson (4-4 UFC, 2-3 UFC).

Casey “King” O’Neill
Queensland, Australia/Scotland
Tiger Muay Thai
1 Submission

How will O’Neill fare in the UFC:

As a prospect, there’s a lot to love about O’Neill. She is oozing with talent and has all the weapons to be a real future contender. That said, at only 5-0, and from what she’s shown so far, at least three more fights under her belt on the regional scene would have been nice before fighting the best women in the world.

Where O’Neill is best is when she’s on the mat working her jiu-jitsu. To get the fight where she wants it her wrestling has been a growing process. Her basic wrestling has been getting better and in the clinch she does very well at trapping a leg for a takedown. Once on the mat, she immediately shows that she’s extremely aggressive. O’Neill doesn’t have the heaviest  ground and pound but she will relentlessly throw punches and elbows making her opponent’s life difficult. No matter where she’s at on the mat O’Neill is working to finish or improve her position. Even off her back she’s constantly fighting the wrist, throwing up her legs, creating space, and scrambling to get back on top.

O’Neill trains out of Tiger Muay Thai so you know she’s working like crazy to improve her stand-up. You can see it too in her offense. O’Neill throws nice leg kicks and with her hands, she’s aggressive with output in her forward motion. O’Neill has well-equipped hands throwing stinging punches and landing one-twos. She is slow at getting her hands back to her face and her inability to move her head results in her getting hit too easily. Getting hit with no real issue is actually her biggest issue. Walking forward and eating shots coming in is a big concern, because eventually O’Neill is going to find someone that will make her pay. If she fights outside a jab more, uses her kicks more on the outside, and move in with better footwork she is top-level material. The potential is there and at only 22 it may take some time but she will get there.

  • Striking: B
  • Kickboxing: B
  • Clinch: B
  • Wrestling: B-
  • Grappling: A-
  • Striking Defense: C+
  • Takedown Defense: C+
  • Cardio: B
  • Biggest Strength: Jiu-Jitsu
  • Biggest Weakness: Striking defense

How O’Neill matches up with Dobson:

While Dobson isn’t any pushover (just look at her upset of Mariya Agapova) this is a favorable match-up for O’Neill. Dobson is better than her record indicates but the resume of a UFC-level fighter isn’t there. O’Neill has the clearest path to victory and that’s to take Dobson down. Dobson has little to no takedown defense. In fact, in the UFC she has yet to successfully defend a single takedown (both FightMetric and UFCStats.com list her takedown defense at 0%).

Frankly O’Neill’s jiu-Jitsu is superior and maybe one or two takedowns is all it would take. The physicality of Dobson could be a problem, but overall I like O’Neill to win this.