UFC Utica "FOX Sports 1" Main-Card
Jimmie Rivera vs. Marlon Moraes
Boy, what a fight we have in our Main Event! Both guys here are both getting the respect they deserve by the UFC for being put in the Main Event, and by the odds makers for making them a pick’em. And after reviewing tape, I will have to agree that this fight is hard to read. Both men are well-rounded athletes, and both men have more than one way to get the victory against each other.
Jimmie Rivera is on a very impressive win-streak, hasn’t lost in almost 10 years. He has quietly crawled up the UFC ranks, and a win in this fight might earn him a Championship fight. He is a bully. He likes to press forward and throw a lot of hooks when he is in the pocket. He uses his footwork well to stay out of danger, but he will enter the pocket for offense at his will. He has a great wrestling game that he only has used to score points to win rounds. So far in his UFC career, he has not shown any good control when he does get takedowns. As his fights get into deep waters, his offense does tend to slow, but his footwork is very much alive.
Marlon Moraes on the other hand, is no slouch. He is very quick with all of his strikes, and he has a lot of weapons in his arsenal. His leg kicks are something that stands out against guys that like to use a lot of footwork to set up their strikes, and I think they could play a pivotal role in this specific match-up. Marlon does a great job fighting backwards when his opponents press forward. He also has shown great anticipation for whatever his opponent decides to throw at him. It’s impressive of how alert and reactive he can be on the spot. He seems to have a good grappling game, and a good ability to stop takedowns. My only concern with Moraes is that his footwork is almost non-existent by round three. He is still dangerous on the feet, but it is concerning to see him slow down in previous fights when he is about to fight a very durable guy for 5 rounds.
Prediction: This fight is close. I think we will learn a lot more about both of these fighters because of this match up. More so with how good and durable Jimmie Rivera actually is. Marlon Moraes is the more dangerous fighter of the two in any position that this fight takes place, but Rivera does have power and the fight IQ to win rounds. If this was a three round fight I would side with Rivera to win 2 of the 3 rounds just by his style. Since this fight is five rounds, Rivera is going to have to fight more conservatively. That will make Moraes more effective in the early rounds in the judges eyes. If Rivera does not conserve his energy and fights like he normally does, then I think that he will win the first round or two. Moraes should be able to chop Rivera's leg down early in the fight, and he will be the guy that remains dangerous for the full five rounds. Both men should cancel each other out with the takedown attempts and scrambles. I'm going to have to side with the former World Series of Fighting champ due to the fact that he is very aware defensively, has the ability to end the fight at any point, and he has been more active in his fighting career against the top of the division. Marlon Moraes by Decision.
Gregor Gillespie vs. Vinc Pichel
Prediction: Gregor Gillespie is being brought up as the next big thing. He has been a huge favorite in his last few fights, and rightfully so. The guy has shown that he can finish people on the feet, and he is a nightmare when the fight hits the mat. Vinc Pichel has found some success himself after a long career layoff. Pichel should be the bigger man and the better striker when it comes to fight night, but I'm not sure that it will matter. I see Gillespie coming out fast and aggressive using straight punches to back Pichel up. Once he gets Pichel to react to his strikes, that's when he will go in for a takedown. Pichel will most likely want to slow this fight down and will try to use the "sprawl and brawl" method to victory. Gillespie has been rocked before, and I would not be surprised if Pichel punishes Gillespie for not setting up his offense. But 8 times out of 10 Gillespie uses his pressure to back his opponent up, and then he gets the takedown. I do think Pichel is crafty enough to survive until the final bell. Gregor Gillespie by Decision.
Walt Harris vs. Daniel Spitz
Prediction: This fight seems like an easy one to predict, but it is a heavyweight fight, and Walt Harris has had some odd fights in his UFC career. Walt Harris is the better/more athletic fighter, but his fight IQ is hard to trust at this point in his career. Daniel Spitz is a durable guy, but I don't think he is ready for a guy like Walt Harris at this point in his career. I think Harris is the better striker, and will punish Spitz with an assault of kicks and punches. Spitz has shown heart in his first UFC fight, and I think he could make a comeback if Harris slows down in the later rounds, but man, this is Harris' fight to lose. I'm going to have to go with Harris by being the better athlete. Walt Harris by TKO, Round 1.
Jake Ellenberger vs. Ben Saunders
Holy shit, what a sad fight to envision. I can't help but to feel bad for both of these guys at this point in their careers. Jake Ellenberger was on the cusp of a title shot, but then he suddenly became a shell of himself in the past couple years. Ben Saunders on the other hand has always been limited as far as getting close to the top of the division, but he used to be a guy that was dangerous for anyone. But it seems to me that he has lost his durability. If these two were to fight five years ago, I would definitely side with Ellenberger to for sure get the "W", but Ellenberger has not been able to show up in recent years. Ben Saunders has at least fought his ass off, but he just can't take the damage like he used to be able to. Saunders should make this a fun fight regardless of what happens, and his aggressive style might bring out the best in Ellenberger.
Prediction: I think this fight is a toss up. I do think that Ellenberger has been fighting the better guys as of late, but Saunders does have the aggressiveness to make something happen against Ellenberger. I am concerned that Saunders is coming off of a BRUTAL knockout loss a few months back. But I do see Saunders being the aggressor, and making Ellenberger question himself, causing him to freeze. Ellenberger has had problems in the past in the Muay Thai Clinch, and that is Saunders best asset. I'm going to have to go with the dog in this fight to use his best assets to finish the regressing Ellenberger in a shocker of a fight. Ben Saunders by KO, Round 2.
Julio Arce vs. Daniel Teymur
Prediction: I was wondering out of the two Teymur brothers that are fighting on this card, why is Daniel getting the main card slot over his brother that is on a tear in the Lightweight division? After watching tape on this fight, I figured it out. This is going to be a fun scrap for the viewers that are watching on Friday night. Daniel Teymur is going to bring the fight by trying to knock Julio Arce’s head off with every strike that he throws. Julio Arce is a great boxer, and a very durable guy that should be able to withstand the attack coming from Teymur. Arce should be able to keep a technical approach to box his way through the first round, and as Teymur starts to fade, he should really unload his offense. I would not be surprised if Teymur did connect with a bomb and put the lights out on Julio Arce. The more realistic way is that Arce keeps his composure for the first half of the fight, and then he will have his way for the remainder of the three round fight. Because of the sharp boxing and durability of Arce, I will have to lean him to win this fight, but he will have his hands full when the opening bell rings. Julio Arce by Decision.
Gian Villante vs. Sam Alvey
This is a fight between two guys that should be better than they have shown. Both men have good skillsets, but they tend to hold themselves back during fights where they could win with a higher output. Both men have scary power, good takedown defense, but they seem to get into their own head at times. Sam Alvey just recently went up a weight class, and had an incredible knockout win in his last bout. Gian Villante has had trouble finding himself in his last few fights. He has held back way too much, and has had way closer fights than they should have been. This is a very interesting fight that we are about to witness this Friday.
Prediction: I truly think that both men can win this fight on any given night, with it all depending on where each fighter’s head is at that night. After Villante’s performance against Pat Cummins, (where he got out struck by a guy that has very bad striking) I’m going to have to favor Sam Alvey in this fight. Another reason that I love Alvey to win is the fact that he is the one that called Villante out immediately after his last fight. I think Alvey wants this fight more, but to actually picture the victory is almost impossible for me. Both men tend to wait back, and there might not be very many opening for each man to counter each other. I don’t see any of these guys going for takedowns, and if they do, I don’t think either of them will be successful. Because Alvey seemed motivated for this fight, and he has all of the tools to beat Villante, I will have to side with him. Sam Alvey by Decision.
UFC Utica "FOX Sports 1" Prelims
Sijara Eubanks vs. Lauren Murphy
Prediction: I smell a decision here. Lauren Murphy is a tough chick to finish, and Sijara Eubanks is too "green" in the sport to make a statement against someone like Murphy. I see this being a back and forth battle on the feet. I'd give Eubanks the edge due to a higher output and slight power in her strikes. Sorry, I really do not have much to say about this fight. Sijara Eubanks by Decision.
Nik Lentz vs. David Teymur
Prediction: This is one of the best fights that contains some of the highest stakes on this card. David Teymur is on a great win streak in the Lightweight division. Meanwhile, Nik Lentz is coming off of a huge upset win over former Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks. Stylistically, Teymur is a bad match-up for Lentz. He is the way better and faster striker of the two. Teymur has excellent takedown defense and awareness. If he does get taken down, he scrambles right back to his feet immediately. Nik Lentz shouldn’t be counted out of this fight, but he’s going to have to come up with a way to implement his wrestling better than he has ever shown that he is capable of. The one thing that Teymur needs to avoid is the guillotine. Nik Lentz has attempted the guillotine more than anyone has in the octagon. And there is no question that he will try to snag Teymur’s neck if he puts it in a bad position. Ultimately, I see Teymur keeping his distance, landing a high volume of kicks, and battering a desperate Lentz. Teymur should be the fresher fighter the longer this fight plays out, and that’s why I don’t see Lentz having much of a chance to win. David Teymur by Decision.
Belal Muhammad vs. Chance Recountre
I see this fight being a really exciting fight, even though its not the original fight that was supposed to take place. Belal Muhammad has proven to be a tough fight for anyone that steps into the cage with him. He isn’t great at anything, but he is good enough everywhere, and he has heart for days that will force him to outwork his opponents. Chance Recountre looks to be a tall rangy guy that is a threat with his submissions. He isn’t shy to stand and trade if his opponent is coming towards him, but he ultimately would like to get things to the ground and look for a choke. On short notice, I just don’t think Recountre has what it takes to get this fight on the ground to get the finish.
Prediction: I see this fight taking place on the feet with both men trading heavily. I think both men will land hard shots on one another, but eventually Muhammad will find his groove with his combinations. Recountre should try to get this fight to the ground, but I don’t think he has the wrestling to take a guy like Muhammad down, or keep him down if he does find success with a takedown. If this fight does go into the second and third round, I see Muhammad being the way fresher fighter and he will get the stoppage on the feet. Muhammad is a the way more technical fighter, and it should get him a stoppage win on Friday night. Belal Muhammad by TKO, Round 2.
Desmond Green vs. Gleison Tibau
Can Desmond Green fight someone that isn’t going to try and take him down? Gleison Tibau will be the 4th similar match up in a row that Green will have to share the octagon with. Desmond Green has shown an excellent ability to prevent great grapplers from taking him down in the past, but by doing so it really limits his striking ability. He is very hesitant to commit to his strikes because he is focused on defending an incoming takedown. His low volume efforts have made all of his fights very close for the judges to score. I see a bright future for Green, but he has faced a tough list of fighters so far in his UFC career. Tibau has been in the UFC for over a decade. The man has defeated many great fighters, and has shared the octagon with some future legends. Time always catches up to you, and after his two year USADA suspension, I think his time being a threat is over.
Prediction: I see Desmond Green keeping his range and using his length to pick apart Tibau from the outside with his punches. Tibau will most likely try to press forward and get Green up against the cage. That’s where Tibau will spend time using his strength to get this fight to the ground. Green has shown excellent takedown defense, and when he does get taken down he scrambles back to his feet like a cat. Tibau’s chin has been suspect as of late, and I think that if Desmond Green can open up a little bit with his hands then he can end this fight at some point. If Green holds back and plays the defensive game, then the scorecards might be favored for the pressuring Tibau. I highly favor Green to win this match-up, but he must produce some offense in order for me to get my confidence in picking him to win fights in the future. Desmond Green by Decision.
UFC Utica "UFC Fight Pass" Prelims
Jessica Aguilar vs Jodie Esquibel
Prediction: I will not be researching this fight because I feel that I can spend hours watching tape on both women and still be just as unsure as I am now with how this fight will go down. I'm going to have to go with Jessica Aguilar to win this fight because she is the more experienced of the two. Aguilar should have a huge ground advantage, but I have not been impressed with her ability to get fights to the ground in her UFC career. If Jodie Esquibel can stop takedowns and throw a high volume of strikes then this fight will be interesting if it reaches the scorecards. But I think Aguilar will be too much on the ground for Esquibel to handle. Jessica Aguilar by Decision.
Johnny Eduardo vs. Nathaniel Wood
We have a pretty fun scrap on our hands with Johnny Eduardo vs. Nathaniel Wood taking place in the second fight of the night. Johnny Eduardo has been around the game for over 20 years. For a guy with so many miles on him, he has had a pretty successful UFC career. He has shown very good head movement, and hard leg kicks. He likes to counter his opponent’s strikes with a big right hook, and he is capable to submit a lot of guys when the fight hits the mat. Nathaniel Wood looks like a great prospect for the Bantamweight division, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions for the 24 year old. He has shown a lot of improvements in his fighting ability from fight to fight, and he has been very active with fighting four times in the past year. He has very high volume attack from a rangy stance, and most of his strikes consist of leg kicks, and an excellent 1-2 combination with his hands. He is a good striker, but my questions revolve around his grappling, and cardio. I’m not sure if Eduardo is the guy to expose this young up and comer.
Prediction: I think this will be a great fight to watch with a pressuring high volume attack coming from Wood. Eduardo needs to use his head movement to slip the straight punches and land his overhand right hand. I see both guys trading leg kicks, but Wood should be able to counter Eduardo’s kicks with a straight right down the pipe. I would assume that Eduardo would want to get this fight to the mat to expose the ground game of Wood, but there hasn’t been any signs of Eduardo taking anyone down in his previous fights. Eduardo has all of the tools to beat the young prospect, but I don’t think he will go down the path with the least resistance. And because of that, I see Wood getting a nice finish in his UFC debut. Nathaniel Wood by TKO, Round 1.
Jose Torres vs. Jarred Brooks
This is the fight that kicks off the car in Utica, and it should be a fun filled back and forth fight. Jose Torres is the Champ Champ (Flyweight, and Bantamweight) of Titan FC right now, and he is making his highly anticipated UFC debut on about 10 days notice. Meanwhile, Jarred Brooks is trying to rally back from the first loss of his career. I find this fight to be very intriguing because Torres has had trouble in the past with getting taken down and controlled. Brooks is not shy to shoot for double legs, and he normally is a powerhouse once he gets deep in on your legs. Brooks does a great job keeping his opponents down once he gets them down, and that wins fights. Torres will be the much better striker, and he will look to walk Brooks down and throw combinations. It will be a matter of who can apply their offense more effectively.
Prediction: I see a flat-footed Torres walking down a very fast evading Brooks. I think Brooks will evade until he times a very strong double leg, and Brooks should be successful with his takedowns early in the fight. It will all depend on whether or not Torres can get back to his feet early enough in the round to get his own offense going. If Torres can manage to get back to his feet early enough in these rounds, I can see him having success with a sprawl and brawl type of fight. But on history has shown that Torres likes to keep his composure and take his time when he is put into bad positions, and I think time will run out before he is able to get any significant offense going. Torres does have great cardio, and Brooks tends to gas himself out by going for takedowns early in the fights. Torres might have a great opportunity to punish a tired Brooks in round three if Brooks does not manage himself properly. I will have to go with Brooks to win this fight. His takedowns are very strong, and I think he has strong enough top control to keep this on the mat until the bell rings for each round. As long as he can get keep a good gas tank, he should be able to avoid danger. I’m going to have to go with the hungry dog in this fight. Jarred Brooks by Decision.