Flyweight grappling ace Pietro Menga, @MMAWizzard Prospect of the Week

Join the MMAWizzard as he shines the spotlight on undefeated English prospect Pietro Menga.  This talented flyweight has run roughshod over the UK flyweight ranks, scoring an impressive run of submission victories and taking out some quality foes like fellow UFC prospect Rany Saadeh.  Read on for analysis of Menga’s first 13 pro fights, commentary on his fighting tendencies and strengths, and plenty of videos so you can check out his early-career performance for yourself.

Pietro “Pitbull” Menga By the Numbers

5’7″, 125 pounds

Fighting out of Team Kaoban in Liverpool, England

29 years of age

Former UCC and Full Contact Contender 125 champion

Undefeated at 13-0

8 Submissions (3 RNCs, 2 Guillotines, 1 Tap to Elbows, 1 Armbar, 1 Arm-Triangle)

3 KO/TKOs

Fightmatrix #66 ranked flyweight, Tapology #51 ranked flyweight

Pietro Menga’s Career So Far

-Pro debut: Nathan Thompson, 6-38 (UCC 8, 3/2011): No video footage but Pietro won by RNC just 1:53 into round 1.

-2nd pro fight: Brett Healer, 0-1 (CFC, 7/2011): No video footage but Pietro won by TKO in 3:09.

-3rd pro fight: Ally McCrae, 0-2 (OMMAC 11, 9/2011): No video footage but Pietro won by knee KO in just 19 seconds.

-4th pro fight: Mark Aldridge, 3-27 (UCC 10, 12/2011): Aldridge got a quick takedown but Menga immediately threw his legs up for a triangle. From there he started throwing a barrage of elbows to the head like a mad man and Aldridge tapped from the strikes after 40 seconds.

-5th pro fight: Rich Edgeworth, 3-8 (OMMAC 13, 3/2012): Rich came out aggressive, catching a kick from Menga and throwing him to the mat. Menga sprang back up, and when Edgeworth shot in for the takedown he founds himself caught in a nasty guillotine and Menga put him out cold at the 35 seconds mark.

-6th pro fight: Shamsul Haque, 8-9 (UCC 11, 4/2012): Shamsul Haque is the less-accomplished brother of Cage Warriors flyweight contender Shaj Haque. 1st round it was Haque pushing hard for the takedown but it was Menga getting two takedowns of his own and easily winning the round. 2nd round Haque finally got the takedown that he was looking but was immediately caught in a guillotine and it was all over 43 seconds into round 2.

-7th pro fight: Rany Saadeh, 9-1 (UCC 12, 9/2012): This was Menga’s first big test as Saadeh is also a strong prospect, and really this is Menga’s only strong opponent to date. Early in the first round Menga grabbed a kick and dumped Rany to the mat. Menga controlled position for the whole round and landed a hailstorm of elbows that cut Rany on the forehead. Round 2 was relatively uneventful, but Menga was getting the better of the few striking exchanges. Menga did connect with double leg takedowns twice and probably was up 20-18 going into the third round for the first time in his career. But Menga stayed aggressive as he got the double leg takedown, but Rany was able to flip Menga to his back and mainted top positions until the ref stood them up. Rany shot in and scored a quick takedown but Menga instantly switched his hips and locked up a beautiful armbar for the biggest win of his career.

-8th pro fight: Steve “Taz” McCombe, 20-26 (UCC 13, 12/2012):  Journeyman Steve McCombe was a pretty big step down for Menga after beating a fellow top prospect like Rany Saadeh. It was McCombe who made the first move by shooting in for a takedown but Menga reversed position easily and wound up on top. As Steve recklessly tried to get to his feet Menga scrambled to the back and quickly locked up the RNC at 4:23 of the first round.

-9th pro fight: Mark Platts, 10-11 (FCC 5, 3/2013): This was a very easy win from Menga. Menga started the fight off by landing a couple of solid leg kicks, and as Platts went to throw a kick of his own Menga caught it and scored the easy takedown. As soon at the fight hit the mat Menga easily passed to half and locked up the fight ending arm-triangle.choke at 2:42 of round one.

-10th pro fight: Artemij Sitenkov, 15-16 (FCC 6, 6/2013): Artem Sitenkov is most famous for being the first man to submit Conor McGregor with a knee bar back in 2007. Just 22 seconds into round 1 Menga caught a kick and dumped Sitenkov to the mat. Pietro managed to stay on top the whole round thanks to nearly flawless top control technique. Round 2, Sitenkov took the initiative and shot in for a takedown but Menga defended and had a standing guillotine locked in briefly. That submission attempt didn’t finish, but Menga used it to end up on the mat in top control. Menga maintained control for most of the round, as each time Sitenkov scrambled to his feet Menga grabbed the body lock and pulled him back down. Round 3, the first half of the round was fairly inactive and in the second half of the round Menga scored a takedown off of a caught kick and stayed in top control for the rest of the round. In the end Menga earned a dominant decision victory in his first visit to the judges’ scorecards.

-11th pro fight: Sotir Kichukov, 13-5 (FCC 9, 3/2014): Kichukov is the second quality win on Menga’s resume, as he is a strong grappler who fought in ONE on a pair of occasions. Round 1, Menga slipped to the mat after a kick and found himself down on his back for the entire round. But even though Menga was on his back he was the one working, as he had a very triangle locked in for the majority of the round and I’m not sure how his opponent didn’t tap. Round 2, both men were exchanging punches and out of nowhere, Menga landed a brutal step in left knee that landed flush on the jaw and Sotir went down. As Menga followed him to the ground he transitioned to mount and then to the back, and although he couldn’t find the finish he maintained back control for the majority of the round. Round 3, Menga spent the majority of the round defending the takedown but in the end it was Menga who got the single leg takedown. Menga sealed the round and his second straight unanimous decision victory by alternating mount and back control. This was an impressive win, as Menga showed his grappling game was strong enough to hold up against the very good Bulgarian grappler.

-12th pro fight: Steve McCombe, 20-26 (BAMMA Fight Night): Menga finally got his opportunity to fight in a top British organization after starting out 11-0 in the lower level Euro regionals as these two did battle for a second time despite the clear outcome in the first fight. At least “Taz” lasted a little longer this time. Round 1, Menga closed the distance effortlessly and got the easy trip takedown. While on top his opponent tried to scramble to his feet but Menga found an opening and took the back. Menga kept back mount the whole round trying for the RNC and controlling his opponent. Round 2, Menga landed a solid body kick and threw a step in knee but McCombe caught the leg and got a takedown of his own. But Menga fluidly stepped over to the back and locked up an armbar, fully extending McCombe’s arm for the tap.

13th pro fight: Spencer Hewitt, 12-11 (Bellator 158): This was another step up to a bigger stage for Pietro, as his bout with Spencer Hewitt took place as the second fight on the Bellator 158 Lima vs. Daley undercard.  And Menga was more than up for the task as it only took 1 round, 1 punch, and 41 seconds for Menga to shut the journeyman’s lights out.

Overall: Pietro Menga is a guy that deserves to fight on the big stage, preferably in the UFC since it has the strongest flyweight division out there. Menga has dominated every one of his opponents, never losing a round in his career. Menga has shown knockout power and some decent kickboxing, and he’s competed in some kickboxing matches as well. But it’s his ground game that makes him stand out. On the mat, Menga is very strong whether he’s controlling his opponent’s posture or he’s grabbing on to a limb for a submission. Even though Pietro is strong he is also very flexible and has fluid hips that he uses to efficiently shift his body positioning from the bottom and cinch on triangles and armbars. Menga also has fantastic cardio and takedown defense. I understand the level of competition has been weak in most of his fights but he has looked good in his two fights against quality opponents, and he’s shown all signs that he’s one of the top flyweights outside the UFC.

 

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