UFC Fight Night 114: Pettis vs. Moreno main card preview and predictions

Finally, the UFC’s seemingly endless Summer is coming to a close. Granted for many, the end of the UFC’s summer was last week’s gigantic UFC 214 card. However, there is one UFC card in August, and that happens to be this one. After tonight, there will be no UFC card until September 2nd, which itself is a Fight Pass card that most MMA fans will probably wind up passing on.

Truth be told, this card is a very underwhelming one compared to last week’s UFC 214. Then again, just about every UFC card would pale in comparison to that one. That doesn’t mean the main card isn’t worth tuning in for, or at least worth recording and watching later. Each of the main card fights, aside from former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans vs. Sam Alvey, has the potential to be very fun. That includes a main event between a pair of top ten Flyweights who both deserve a title shot more than current title challenger Ray Borg.

While the prelims aren’t terrible and have potential to be good for sure, I didn’t wind up writing an article for them. Alas, my predictions for the six prelim bouts were as such:

Jordan Rinaldi over Alvaro Herrera via submission, Roberto Sanchez over Joseph Morales via submission, Diego Rivas over Jose Alberto Quinonez via tko, Rani Yahya over Henry Briones via submission, Dustin Ortiz over Hector Sandoval via decision, and Jack Hermansson over Brad Scott via tko. 

Now, without further ado, here are my predictions for tonight’s six-fight main card.

UFC Fight Night 114 main card (10/9c, FS1)

Andre Soukhamthath (11-4) vs. Alejandro Perez (18-6-1)

The main card opener promises to be fireworks. Soukhamthath is a personal favorite who was a star for CES, but lost his UFC debut against Albert Morales on short notice in March. He went 11-2 with CES and was  the Bantamweight champion there, earning a bevy fan support along the way. It’s really simple with him; either he’ll finish you (10 of 11 wins came via finish,) or lose via decision, as has happened in each of his losses.

Speaking of finishers, Perez is also one. Of his 17 wins, 13 have ended via finish. The former TUF: Latin America winner is 3-1-1 in the UFC, with his latter two wins coming via finish. He’s got terrific knockout power, good submission defense despite having been submitted three times, and a good gas tank to boot. If he doesn’t get finished, this fight likely goes his way via late finish or late decision. I hope that doesn’t happen though, and would love to see Soukhamthath get a win here. Heart pick: Soukhamthath via tko. Gut pick: Perez via decision or late finish.

Rashad Evans (19-6-1) vs. Sam Alvey (30-9, 1 NC)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Rashad Evans is a TUF winner, former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, black belt in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Gaidojutsu, and a future UFC Hall of Famer. He’s also lost five of his last seven and hasn’t won a fight since November 2013. He’s 37-years-old, and has looked terrible in all but one fight since January 2012. It’s been a tough road for Evans, and it’s a big surprise that he’s even on a UFC main card in 2017, even if it’s for an obscure Fight Night in Mexico.

Facing him is a man who is known for having fights either ending in highlight reel knockouts, or being disastrous snoozefests. As down on his luck as Evans may be, he’s still been finished just once since 2009, and that was against the insanely powerful Glover Teixeira. As much power as Alvey has, he only has one knockout since May 2015, after a string of first round finishes.

This fight will most likely go Alvey’s way. It sort of has to. And yet, it’s still not easy to pick against Evans, especially against a non-contender. I’ll pick Alvey, but I can’t shake the possibility of Evans getting one final surprise win before finally hanging up the gloves. I just hope the fight isn’t a complete snoozefest like it has the potential to be. Prediction: Alvey via decision or late tko. 

Martin Bravo (11-0) vs. Humberto Bandenay (13-4)

The next bout could result in a star-making moment for a Mexican fighter with boatloads of potential. That fighter is Martin “Toro” Bravo. Bravo is an unbeaten 23-year-old who won TUF: Latin America 3 who made his UFC debut in via brutal second round tko over Claudio Puelles last November. He’s now 11-0, with nine wins via finish, including five via submission. His opponent, Humberto Bandenay, has won five straight bouts all via finish. In all, he’s finished ten of his 13 wins, including six via submission. His resume is pretty similar to that of Bravo. If Bandenay wins, I won’t be shocked one bit. That said, Bandenay has been submitted four times, and that’s too much of a red flag for me to look over. The wisest pick would be to go with Bravo via submission, and I’ll echo that sentiment in this go around. Prediction: Bravo via submission, round 2. 

Alan Jouban (15-5) vs. Niko Price (9-0, 1 NC)

Up next is a bout that could be a great fight. Price is unbeaten with all but one of his wins ending via finish, and six of them ending in the opening round. Jouban is a former RFA Welterweight champ who’s been in the UFC for nearly three full years now, going 6-3 with the promotion. He’s basically been a gatekeeper who takes on prospects, and often derails their hype trains a bit. He did so against Mike Perry, as well as against Belal Muhammad, Matt Dwyer and others. Niko Price will be his latest target, and I honestly favor him to win the bout. Granted, Jouban is coming off a submission loss to Gunnar Nelson in March, and has been knocked out a few times. He’s still a solid/high-level gatekeeper, and a win for Price could turn him into a contender. While Price does have the power to potentially finish Jouban, I think Jouban will fight smart and avoid getting finished. If he can do that, this is likely his fight to win. Prediction: Jouban via decision or late finish. 

(9) Randa Markos (7-4) vs. Alexa Grasso (9-1)

The co-main event of the evening could be really fun, and may potentially end via heartbreak. Both female Strawweights are extremely likable, and that could result in a lot of sullen MMA fans if this fight ends via finish. Markos is an incredible story, and won a lot of people over in Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter in Fall 2014. She’s just 3-3 in the UFC, having alternated wins and losses consistently since joining the promotion, and is coming off the biggest win of her career against former Invicta and UFC Strawweight champion Carla Esparza. While five of her six UFC bouts, as well as seven of her 11 pro bouts overall have gone the distance, she does have three submission wins to her credit.

As for Grasso, the 23-year-old was a budding star in Invicta, going 4-0 there and winning performance bonuses in her final two fights for the promotion. She came to the UFC late last year, winning her promotional debut via decision against the underrated Heather Clark, before garnering a co-main slot against Felice Herrig this past February. In a fight that many thought she could and possibly should win, Grasso lost a decision where she often looked out of her element. All of a sudden, the once primed prospect not only saw her hype train get derailed, but has also become scrutinized as overhyped by a lot of fans. Add in the fact that she came in well overweight for this fight, and there’s a lot of talk about her being unable to deal with the pressure of fighting in her home country.

This is a very important bout, especially for Grasso. Markos is pretty much a gatekeeper now, but Grasso could either sink or swim depending on the result here. Missing weight put a bigger target on her back than normal, and a loss could efficiently blow away whatever hype she has left. I still think she’s got a lot of untapped potential that could be unveiled if she goes to a bigger camp, but that’s for her to decide.

Both women tend to go the distance (13 of their combined 21 fights have gone the full 15 minutes,) so it’s safe to pick a decision here. I’ve had visions of Grasso potentially getting submitted here despite never having been finished, as well as the idea of Grasso getting a knockout win against someone who never gets knocked out. No result will be very surprising, so I’ll just settle with Markos getting a decision. My gut tells me that Grasso will win, but I can’t go with that for some reason. Markos via decision is my pick. Prediction: Markos via decision. 

(6) Sergio Pettis vs. (7) Brandon Moreno (14-3)

In the main event of the evening, as well as the final UFC bout of August, a pair of young, 23-year-old surging Flyweights will headline a card that’s being held in a building that houses over 22,000 seats. Sure, Mexico is a proud nation with hyped up and passionate fans for just about everything, but this main event  might still be a tough sell for them. It shouldn’t be though. Moreno might have flamed out of TUF 24, but he has won all three of his UFC bouts, including two via submission since getting an unexpected short notice call-up late last year. He’s won 11 straight pro bouts, and has won ten of his 14 victories via submission. For a 23-year-old, he’s got the potential to be truly great.

Speaking of potential greatness, Pettis is also only 23, and is the younger brother of one of the greatest and flashiest fighters of this generation in former UFC and WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis. The inaugural RFA Flyweight champion came into the UFC with a 9-0 mark back in November 2013 as a Bantamweight, and went 3-1 to start his UFC career while earning a pair of Fight of the Night bonuses in that span. His Flyweight return didn’t go as expected though, as Pettis got submitted in the second round against Ryan Benoit in March 2015. Although he’s won three straight since, and is 6-2 overall in the UFC, some may argue that his stock still isn’t as high as it was before that loss.

As for this fight, we have a pair of 23-year-olds, one of whom is a submission specialist, the other of whom is a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, as well as a black belt in Roufusport Kickboxing, and has had nine of his 15 wins come via decision. This is quite a scintillating bout between contrasting styles. Moreno is on a hot streak, but can easily get out-struck here. If he is to win this fight, it’ll have to be via submission. If it stays standing, or Moreno isn’t able to get the submission, then Pettis likely takes home a decision or gets a late finish. In the end, I see Pettis getting the better of Moreno early on, before Moreno rallies back and gets a submission in the latter rounds. That may sound too much like a storybook ending for the hometown guy, but what can I say? It’s the final fight of the only UFC card of the month, so why not go for a storybook ending? Prediction: Moreno via submission, round 4. 

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