UFC

UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno preview and predictions

Everything you need to know about UFC Fight Night in Mexico City when Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno square off.

Saturday night, the UFC brings the Octagon to Mexico with a Fox Sports 1 card. Littered with talent from the country, as well as from around the world, the card has some good up-and-coming prospects that should give us a good glimpse into the future.

Headlining the card are flyweight contenders Brandon Moreno and Sergio Pettis. Both are looking to jump into title contention to get a shot at a division locked down by Demetrious Johnson.

Also on the card are names such as Rashad Evans, Alexa Grasso and Alan Jouban, among others. With that, let’s take a look at the card and make some predictions for each fight that will grace Saturday night.

Main Card

Brandon Moreno vs. Sergio Pettis

The main event will feature top young flyweights, as Mexico’s Brandon Moreno looks to score another UFC win on his home turf against Sergio Pettis. Pettis is a lot like his brother when it comes to striking, using a lot of kicks to mix up the hands he throws. That being said, his ground game is nowhere as refined as his brothers, though he certainly isn’t incompetent. He brings great momentum into this fight, riding a three-fight streak over Chris Cariaso, Chris Kelades and John Moraga. He takes on Moreno, a 23-year-old who has quickly ascended up the ranks. He is a submission specialist that has worked his striking in recent times with Duane Ludwig, showing his commitment to being the most well-rounded fighter possible. He’s 3-0 under the UFC banner, tapping out Louis Smolka and Dustin Ortiz, while earning a decision over Ryan Benoit. This is a very tough fight to call. On one hand, Moreno has been unstoppable since coming to the UFC. On the other, Pettis has fought at the higher level longer. Moreno sends the fans home happy in victory.

Alexa Grasso vs. Randa Markos

The ladies occupy the co-main event, as Mexico’s Alexa Grasso looks to impress the home crowd against Canada’s Randa Markos. Markos is a grinding wrestler that has an impressive submission arsenal on the ground, though she’s not afraid to stand and bang. The Tristar Gym member has been an enigma in the UFC, shuffling between wins and losses in 6 fights with the company and failing to gain consistency. That said, she’s coming off a huge win over former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza, giving her great momentum in this match. Grasso was the top prospect in the division until her last fight, where she was outgunned by veteran Felice Herrig. Before that, the striker had lived up to her top prospect status, besting Heather Clark in her UFC debut. This fight is striker vs. grappler, where the winner is the fighter who imposes their game. After Herrig was able to ground and neutralize Grasso’s game, it’s hard to take her here, as Markos is stronger at wrestling than Herrig. That’s why I will take Markos here, even though it’s with a little apprehension.

Alan Jouban vs. Niko Price

An undefeated welterweight looks to score a massive win against an established 170er, as 9-0 Niko Price squares off with the flashy Alan Jouban. Jouban is a striker and scouting him as anything otherwise is misguided. He’s very powerful and good at finding angles, which contribute to him finishing fights. Under the UFC banner, Jouban has gone 6-3, with half of his UFC wins coming by way of knockout. He even owns a win over rising UFC star Mike Perry. As for Price, the American Top Team He’s been in the UFC for less than a year, but he’s impressed in finishing Brandon Thatcher and Alex Morono, though the latter of the fights was overturned due to a failed drug test (marijuana). Price can also strike and hang, but the easier route to victory is to try and submit Jouban. This should be a fun one while it lasts, but at some point, Price will get the better of Jouban and earn the victory.

Martin Bravo vs. Humberto Bandenay

On late notice, Peru’s Humberto Bandenay gets the call to the Octagon to make his debut, this time against TUF Latin America winner Martin Bravo. Bandenay is just 22 years old, but he’s already amassed a 13-4 record, impressive for a man his age. The Peruvian is 6’1”, tall for a featherweight, so he’ll have the length advantage on Bravo. He’s a striker who will need to stay away from the ground game, as all four of his career losses have come by way of submission. In Bravo, you have a 23-year-old Entram Gym rep who has blown his way through the competition he’s faced so far. He was beyond impressive on TUF Latin America, and though he’s not fought since November, where he finished Claudio Puelles in the second round. He’s more well-rounded than Bandenay and he’s on a full training camp, so it’s really hard not to be confident in Bravo here. He scores a submission within two rounds.

Sam Alvey vs. Rashad Evans

Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is desperately looking for a win in the middleweight division, and standing in his way this time around is a strong 185er in Sam Alvey. Evans has seen better days, as a long, hard career against top talent, as well as injuries, have hampered his recent years. Since his last victory in 2013, he’s fought just three times, losing to Ryan Bader, Glover Teixeira and Dan Kelly. He will need to find his quickness and athleticism, and use it here against Alvey. Alvey represents power and grit in this fight, as he has constantly shown to be game and dangerous in his fights. Since entering the UFC in 2014, he’s 7-4 against some good talent. His best wins in the UFC come against Nate Marquardt, Cezar Ferreira and the aforementioned Kelly. If this fight included the Evans of years ago, it would be a no brainer. Now, he’s lost a ton of confidence and more than just a step in his game. Alvey scores a win and Evans ponders retirement.

Alejandro Perez vs. Andre Soukhamthath

A couple of bantamweight prospects are set to duke it out next, as up-and-coming Mexican fighter Alejandro Perez looks to continue his ascent against unheralded Andre Soukhamthath. Perez is one of the many Entram Gym representatives gracing this card. The 17-6-1 striker has impressive movement and power in his strikes, which is why a majority of his finishes come via knockout. He’s 3-1-1 with the UFC, besting Jose Quinonez, Scott Jorgensen and Ian Entwistle in his time. He’ll be met by another striker in Soukhamthath, a Blackzilians rep who has finished most of his wins by way of knockout as well. The former CES Champion is looking to right the ship in his sophomore UFC effort, as he fell in a close one to Albert Morales. This should be a fun striking bout that could be a contender for Fight of the Night. While Perez is likely the favorite, I will go with Soukhamthath here, who looks to be improving every fight.

Preliminary Card

Brad Scott vs. Jack Hermansson

International middleweights are set to meet in the Octagon next, as Sweden’s Jack Hermansson looks to take out England’s Brad Scott. Scott has been with the UFC since 2012, but has taken just six fights in that time. While he’s not the most active, he has won as many fights as he’s lost with the company. Seeing as Hermansson is a striker, Scott will want to force the clinch and look for takedowns, as he can submit opponents on the mat (submitted Michael Kuiper and Dylan Andrews in the UFC). Hermansson has sandwiched a loss with two wins in his brief UFC career thus far. Thought he was submitted by Cezar Ferreira, he has scored a knockout over Alex Nicholson and an impressive nod over Scott Askham. This fight is pretty cut and dry. If Scott gets Hermansson down, he will dominate this fight. If the fight stays on the feet, Hermansson will hold the advantage. Based on recent performances, I like Hermansson here who sprawls-and-brawls to victory.

Hector Sandoval vs. Dustin Ortiz

Fellow flyweights look to move up the ladder of a very shallow division, as Dustin Ortiz and Hector Sandoval look to lock up in the cage. Ortiz is a grinder with excellent cardio, meaning he looks to drag you into deep waters and wear you out. Much of his game is close quarters, meaning he likes fighting in the clinch or on the mat. He’s had a very back-and-forth tenure with the UFC, and comes into this fight dropping three of his last four. As for Sandoval, the Team Alpha Male rep is a born Mexican who currently resides in the US. His ground game is solid, but he would be wise to use his striking in this bout, as that looks to be his advantage over Ortiz. He is riding a two-fight winning streak over Fredy Serrano and Matt Schnell, so he has far more momentum than Ortiz in this fight. Despite the win streak, this is a step up in competition for Sandoval. He may find some success with the hands early, but Ortiz’s aggression and ability to impose his game will wear on Sandoval. Ortiz wins a decision.

Enrique Briones vs. Rani Yahya

Brazil takes on Mexico in the next bantamweight contest, as Rani Yahya comes to fight in the homeland of Enrique Briones. Briones is a Entram Gym member that has struggled on the UFC roster. The boxer has gone 1-2 with the company and has struggled with injuries, which means this could be win or go home for him. This is also a stylistic disadvantage for him, as he’s primarily a striker and he’s facing a top notch BJJ black belt in Yahya. Yahya is a submission ace that is going to close the distance on Briones and try to get him down. That happens in this fight, as Yahya needs just one round to tap out the home country fighter.

Jose Quinones vs. Diego Rivas

TUF Latin America veterans face off in the bantamweight division, as Mexico’s Jose Quinones takes on Chile’s Diego Rivas. Rivas has not fought since 2016, as the Chilean has been battling cancer, a battle he won. That said, he’s a striker with good technique and power, which makes sense since he’s ran with Kings MMA. He’s 2-0 in his UFC tenure to this point, decisioning Rodolfo Rubio before brutally knocking out Noad Lahat in a highlight reel finish. He takes on fellow striker Quinones, a boxer who has improved greatly since moving to Alliance MMA in California. He dropped his UFC debut to Alejandro Perez for the TUF Latin American championship, but since then bested Leonardo Morales and Joey Gomez to right the ship. This is a tough one to call. Rivas had great momentum before taking time off to treat his cancer, and in that while, Quinones has proven himself worthy. It’s a toss up, but Quinones will walk away the victor.

Joseph Sandoval vs. Roberto Sanchez

Flyweight newcomers will grace the cage next, as undefeated Global Knockout Champion Joseph Morales looks to stay perfect against fellow undefeated fighter and Legacy Fighting Alliance Champion Roberto Sanchez. Morales is just 22 years old, but has quickly become one of the top prospects in the thin 125-pound division. The Team Alpha Male product looks like your typical prototype from that gym, possessing a good wrestling game with the submissions and ground-and-pound that make him a dangerous finisher. He’s coming off the biggest win of his career, finishing Sean Santella with strikes in two rounds. As for Sanchez, he’s about nine years older than Morales, but that does not mean he has more experience. Sanchez is a submission fighter that trains with a Gracie Barra gym in Houston. Obviously, he’d like to be on the mat with Morales, though he probably doesn’t have the wrestling chops to get him on his back. Whether it remains on the feet or Morales gets the top position, he comes out victorious, handing Sanchez his first career loss.

Alvaro Herrera vs. Jordan Rinaldi

Bottom-of-the-ladder lightweights are scheduled to throw down next, as Mexico’s Alvaro Herrera takes on invading American Jordan Rinaldi. Herrera runs with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, so he’s obviously getting some very good training. That said, he’s not fought in over a year and has seen a win and loss with the UFC. While he blasted through Vernon Ramos in his debut, he was tapped out by Vicente Luque in his most recent offering. Herrera is a boxer that is going to try to keep this fight on the feet. Meeting him is Rinaldi, a well-traveled veteran that is better known for his ground game. Most of his finishes come by way of submission, and he’d be crazy not to

try to get Herrera to the ground. This fight really could go either way, but I think the experience and the superior mat work will carry Rinaldi over his Mexican counterpart.