Saturday, August 5th, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico for the UFC Fight Night 114: “Pettis vs Moreno” by Daniel Tom

The opinions expressed in this free content are for entertainment purposes only, as my goal here is to provide analysis for those who enjoy the technical or gaming aspects of our sport. If you choose to gamble, I recommend doing so responsibly and legally as it is at your own risk. Enjoy the fights!

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Sergio Pettis (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 23 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / John Moraga (1-15-17)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwuakee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   RFA Flyweight Title
+   2nd Degree Tae Kwon Do Black Belt
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Solid footwork
^   Switches stances well
+   Accurate jab & cross
^   Pulls & returns well
+   Dangerous head kicks
^   Strikes well off of the break
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good wrist controls & hips
+   Active & attacking guard
^   Excellent leg dexterity

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Brandon Moreno (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 23 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Dustin Ortiz (4-22-17)
  • Camp: Entram Gym (Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   WFF Flyweight Title
+   TUF 24 Alum
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   1 KO victory
+   10 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Improved footwork
+   Accurate left hook
^   Coming forward & off the counter
+   Hard leg & head kicks
^   Works well off lead leg
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Good shot & strong hips
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Creates scrambles / looks for back


The main event in Mexico City features a fun flyweight affair between Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno.

Brother to Anthony Pettis, Sergio is paving a path of his own as he too would like to capture UFC gold. And if Pettis means to get himself into the conversation at 125-pounds, he will first need to make good on the main-stage against a dangerous contender.

Coming off the TUF 24 season that featured flyweight champions, Moreno was amongst the bottom seeds as few could have predicted the speed of his improvements. Now, after coming off of victories over division staples such as Louis Smolka and Dustin Ortiz, Moreno has earned himself a chance in the spotlight to make his statements.

Starting off on the feet, we have a technically refined kickboxer versus a developing, diverse striker who has pop in his shots.

With Sergio Pettis coming in with an on-paper edge in the striking department, it will be interesting to see how he approaches the looming and potent threats of Moreno.

Coming from a traditional Tae Kwon Do base, Sergio Pettis has, in my opinion, done a better job than his brother in regards to translating this style to the cage. Although Sergio is not as flashy as his brother, nor does he have the highlight reel to compare, there is an economical flow to the way in which he mixes his punches and kicks, and he also works at a much more consistent pace.

Not only does he do a good job at mixing in his kicks seamlessly, but his point fighting style of footwork has translated well to his boxing as Pettis will use his heightened sense of range to fuel his pulls and returns. Even though he has accurate jab-cross continuums he works well from, Pettis will need to respect the power coming back at him.

Despite stepping onto the UFC scene with not the most impressive striking, Moreno has made measurable improvements since the show. Cross-training frequently with Duane Ludwig and company in Denver, Moreno will now move more intelligently, managing striking range with that camp’s patent pull-and-return rhythms.

Coupled with the boxing stylings from his home gym in Mexico (Entram Gym), Moreno is cultivating a style that makes him effective both coming forward and off of the counter. With the left hook long being Moreno’s money punch in those equations, I suspect that will be the shot to look for against Pettis as left hands have typically been his common culprit.

From getting dropped earlier in his career by Alex Caceres, Matt Hobar, and Ryan Benoit, to his most recent outing against John Moraga – where Pettis would catch a fair share of check hooks in what was an otherwise impressive performance – I could see Moreno finding success should Pettis not pay attention.

Regardless of the potential in striking stanzas, this fight could hinge upon how the wrestling and clinch transitions go.

Considering that Moreno is the more potent finisher on the floor, he will have more of a motive to take the fight there. However, despite the Mexican’s impressive drive on his shot attempts, Pettis can be difficult to pin down due to his spacial awareness of when to leave and when to stay.

Demonstrating good posture to go along with his consistent hand-fighting and under-hook awareness, I think that Pettis could surprise Moreno if he remains disciplined.

Working with Izzy Style Wrestling for his past few camps, we have seen steady improvements to Pettis’ wrestling, especially in the transitional phases of his grappling. Already demonstrating crafty leg dexterity and wrist controls, Pettis now shows more process and understanding to his actions as he was able to successfully navigate out of some tight spots in his last couple of outings.

With that in mind, the longer Pettis allows Moreno to demonstrate his wrestling and said improvements to his game, the more chances the Mexican fighter will have to ground Pettis. And despite Pettis showing a solid acumen of sweeps, we have seen spookily similar techniques from Moreno, who appears to be quicksand inside of scrambling scenarios.

For those reasons, I give Moreno an edge in ground stanzas, especially when you start to incorporate Pettis’ trend of obliging or initiating grappling exchanges (even in fights where he is ahead). So regardless of Pettis’ defensive wrestling improvements, his overall fight IQ can sometimes be questionable as we have seen him look to implement his offensive wrestling improvements at perhaps not the best of times.

Though I am a fan of re-wrestling for position to kill a scramble and or turtling out to stand, this style of grappling puts you inherently at risk for front-headlocks, which can often lead to front chokes or back-take opportunities. And in facing an opportunist like Moreno who specializes in finishing from those positions, Pettis could be in for a short night if he is not careful.

As a long-time fan of Sergio Pettis’ style, I was very tempted to take him at the opening price of a slight underdog. But the more I looked at this matchup, the harder time I had siding with him as his traditional trouble-spots seem to be the places Moreno thrives within.

Pettis could certainly counter with effect early and or hit his stride as he pulls away late, but in my opinion, he will need to exercise more discipline than he has shown in past outings against this potent of a threat. And though I would not be surprised to see Pettis make these expected maturities, the pick is Moreno to pressure-cook his way to victory after a close scare or two standing.

Official Pick: Moreno – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Pettis – Decision

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Randa Markos (7-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 31 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 63″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Carla Esparza (2-19-17)
  • Camp: Empire Boxing & 313 BJJ (Michigan)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 20 Alum
+   Wrestling Base & Accolades
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Good pace & pressure
+   Improved footwork & striking
^   Moves well / sits on strikes
+   Accurate right hand
^   Going forward & off the counter
+   Strong inside of the clinch
^   Strikes & counter grapples well
+   Solid wrestling ability
^   Reactive shots & clinch takedowns
+   Scrappy transitional grappler
^   Scrambles hard for position

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Alexa Grasso (9-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 23 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Felice Herrig (2-4-17)
  • Camp: LOBO Gym (Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   High-volume striker
+   Excellent footwork
^   Cuts angles / moves well laterally
+   Puts together punches well
^   Punctuates w/accurate kicks
+   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Solid wrestling fundamentals
^   Good application of over/under-hooks
+   Demonstrates good guard work
+   Improved get-up urgency & technics


The co-main event for Mexico City features a strawweight scrap between Randa Markos and Alexa Grasso.

A TUF 20 competitor who has alternated wins and losses since coming off of the show, Randa Markos will attempt to gain some consistent moment by scoring big in her first co-main event slot.

Standing on the other side is Alexa Grasso, a scrappy Mexican standout who is seeking to bounce back from her first professional loss and deliver a show for countrymen and women.

Starting off on the feet, I give an overall edge to Grasso as I feel she is the more technical striker who throws with more volume and consistency. Doing a good job of keeping her feet underneath her, Grasso will cut angles to her opponent’s weak side to exit or counter.

Utilizing excellent lateral movement, you can see the dividends of a childhood spent training and drilling as Grasso executes with composure. Putting together her punches from left-to-right, Grasso displays the understanding and applications of striking flows as she often punctuates her combinations with kicks accurately.

Although Grasso still tends to get caught upright when coming in, she has made measurable improvements to that area in recent years, moving her head off center with her punches.

Despite Grasso likely having an advantage at boxing range, she will need to stay disciplined with her defense as Markos is not one to hold back on her punches.

Initially coming onto the MMA scene from an amateur wrestling background, Markos would largely use her striking to set up her takedowns. But after years spent training at Michigan Top Team and a brief stint at Tristar Gym, we have seen marked improvements to Markos’ striking in recent outings.

Using her left jab in a measuring-fashion, Markos will set up her right hand with effect as it comes with surprising speed. Using her left hand in a checking-fashion when stepping backward, Markos will look set up her favored right hand off of the counter as well.

Considering the success Felice Herrig had with her right hands against Grasso, I would not be surprised to see Markos seek out similar rewards in this bout.

Regardless of how the striking stanzas go, Markos’ on-paper edge in this fight is on the floor.

Wrestling since a young age, Markos displays a decent array of takedown threats to ground her opposition. Despite scoring most of her takedowns from the clinch, Markos may be better-served by leaning on her reactive shot.

Though Grasso may not be the easiest to time, she has shown that her under and over-hook awareness inside the clinch is on point when it comes to defending takedowns. Whether she is hoisting high with an over-hook or digging deep for an under-hook, Grasso will not likely go down easy in these scenarios.

If Grasso is grounded, she shows an active guard and a solid sense of how to create a scramble as her get-up urgency has improved over the years. That said, the Mexican fighter has yet to face the upper echelon of grapplers that strawweight has to offer as I believe Markos may be able to give her a taste of it.

Despite it being a close and competitive fight, Markos did very well in wrestling and scrambling scenarios in her victory over former champion, Carla Esparza. The big question for Markos is —will she be able to execute offensive grappling pressure against Grasso?

In her last outing against a high-volume rhythm striker in Karolina Kowalkiewicz, Markos would find success early only to lose her grasp in the later rounds. And even though that fight was back in 2015, the oddsmakers seem to think that the same issues will prevail as Grasso opens as the favorite.

I can’t say that I disagree with Vegas as Grasso was my initial lean here, but the Mexican fighter cannot afford another performance like her last one if she means to come through victorious. Against Felice Herrig, Grasso lacked her normal volume because she also lacked her normal feints that help open up her game.

Subsequently, Herrig was able to get Grasso to hesitate by countering and or making her pay in exchanges. Should Grasso lack a feinting presence against Markos, she could open herself up to timed takedowns as well as counter strikes.

And in a matchup I see being competitive regardless of how you cut it (barring a breakout performance), I am reluctantly siding with grappling threats and veteran savvy to make the difference on scorecards. I see Markos’ diverse threats and pressure being able to edge out the first two rounds until Grasso’s slow burn catches up in third, making this a sweaty affair for betting.

Official Pick: Markos – Decision

Official Outcome: Grasso – Split Decision

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Alan Jouban (15-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Gunnar Nelson (3-18-17)
  • Camp: Blackhouse MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Muay Thai Base
+   10 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Solid combination striker
^   Variates well to body
+   Accurate counter left hand
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Improved wrestling ability
+/-Scrambles back to feet well
^   Sometimes turtles to stand
–    Dropped or stopped in last 3/5 fights

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Niko Price (10-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Alex Morono (2-4-17)
  • Camp: ATT Cape Coral (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Amateur Kickboxing Experience
+   6 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Developing striking game
^   Heavy right hand
+   Strong inside of the clinch
^   Competent takedown ability
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Works well from topside
+/-Aggressive in exchanges


In a potential welterweight war, Alan Jouban squares off with Niko Price.

One of the staple action-fighters in the organization, you can usually count on Alan Jouban’s spot on the card to be fun-filled at the very least. Tasked with taking on yet another young lion, Jouban will look to remind the masses of the skills he possesses outside of his modeling career.

However, it will not be easy for the fan-favorite as Niko Price is the new face in town with something to say.

Storming onto the UFC scene with two impressive finishes, Price would boldly proclaim himself to be “that guy” in his last post-fight speech. Now, with an apt measuring stick ahead of him, Price will have a chance to back up his words on his first main card appearance.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a battle between a developing, pressure-fighting striker versus a diverse and technical southpaw.

A dynamic Muay Thai stylist, Jouban has made his money with excellent combination striking as the working model is not shy when it comes to creating chaos. Wielding weapons at all ranges from cartwheel kicks to shovel hooks, Jouban demonstrates a superb economy of motion in his movements, and accuracy within his shot selection.

The tradeoff to Jouban’s aggressive approach is obviously his habitability as he has been dropped or stopped in 3 of his last 5-fights.

Enter Niko Price.

Although there may not be a lot that initially jumps off the page when watching Price strike, the American Top Team product out of Cape Coral makes up for his developing game through pressure and power that is unforgiving.

Steadily stalking forward with your standard striking guard, Price will plow through his opponent’s offerings with hard kicks and punches from both sides as the Floridian throws with confidence.

From his performances on the regional circuit to his last fight in the UFC, we have seen Price punished for his aggression, only to have his durability and persistence produce a finish in his favor.

Should Price’s pressure find success early, we could see him push this fight into more favorable space inside of the cage. As previously stated, Jouban will often revert to countering along the outside when faced with a durable and determined stalker(as seen in his Alves, Perry & Muhammad matches).

The problem with operating in this space is that Jouban will be playing inside of Price’s preferred Killzone. Despite primarily throwing one or two strikers at a time, Price will unabashedly open up whenever he can get his opponent’s back to the fence.

Price also tends to look for and score most of his takedowns along the cage, which may be something to look for given the counter striking of Alan Jouban.

Though both men are Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belts, I give a slight edge to Price on the floor –– especially should the former football player end up on top.

When working from topside, Price demonstrates fundamental grappling to go along with catch-style holds that help him set up his submissions. That said, Price will likely have to work hard if he means to submit a sober Jouban, something even Gunnar Nelson had trouble doing until he practically knocked Jouban unconscious.

Furthermore, Price will likely need to demonstrate cleaner, more secure takedowns than he has shown thus far if he means to ground Jouban soundly. Putting in many hours over the years with Kenny Johnson (Bolt Wrestling), Jouban has quietly strengthened both his defensive and offensive wrestling, particularly inside of the clinch.

Between Price’s attitude intangibles and recent performances – to Jouban’s negative trends in regards to taking shots, I can see why the oddsmakers opened the more technical and experienced fighter as only a slight favorite. Still, the pick is a clear one for me.

Price certainly has the power and persistence to score big against Jouban, but the problem – in my opinion – is that there will be a heavy schedule of turbulence for the more choppy striker, as I see Jouban capitalizing with counter-crosses, and possibly even a crushing liver kick should Price shell to cover.

I cannot deny that Jouban’s chin trend may be a sign of this fun ride coming to an end, but I also think that his more conservative approach as of late will serve him well here –– as I believe the skill and speed gap should also become more apparent as this fight wears on. And if I am wrong, then Price may very well be ‘that guy.’

Official Pick: Jouban – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Price – KO (round 1)

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Sam Alvey (39-9-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Thales Leites (4-22-17)
  • Camp: Team Quest (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   TUF 16 Alum
+   18 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Devastating left hand
+   Accurate right hook
^   Dangerous off the counter
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Solid hips & base
+   Strong inside of the clinch
+/-Subject to activity lulls
^   Looks to draw & counter

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Rashad Evans (24-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Dan Kelly (3-4-17)
  • Camp: Ricardo Almeida BJJ (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC LHW Champion
+   TUF 2 Heavyweight Winner
+   All-American Wrestler (MI State)
+   8 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Good footwork
^   Closes distance quickly
+   Dangerous right hand
+   Solid transition game
^   Favors level-changing double
+   Effective ground striker
+   Scrambles well back to feet
+/-Overall timing based game


In a fight between fan-favorites at middleweight, “Smile’N” Sam Alvey takes on “Suga” Rashad Evans.

As one of the most active fighters in any division, Sam Alvey will be having his 5th official fight within a calendar year when stepping into the Octagon on Saturday. And after having his four-fight winning streak cut short by Thales Leites his last time out, Alvey is looking bounce back with a win over his biggest name to date.

Likely seeking more than just a win, Rashad Evans will step back into the cage on the heels of a three-fight losing skid, attempting to reignite the flames of his career once more. Changing his life style by moving to middleweight, Evans has also changed camps as he is now under the care of Mark Henry for this return to the battlefield.

Starting off on the feet, Rashad Evans should possess the check marks of speed, power, and movement, which in theory, should allow the former champ to pick and choose his shots against the more limited striker on paper.

Utilizing solid footwork and exaggerated feints, Evans will look to stifle his opposition while setting up his big right hand or reactive double-leg shot. Though the presence of a jab has often been vacant amongst Evans’ arsenal, he does present an accurate left hook that the former champ often throws as a check.

It will be interesting to see what changes Evans will apply now that he is under the tutelage of Mark Henry, especially when coming forward given the countering prowess of the opposition ahead.

A counter striker who sometimes takes the concept literally, few can argue the power that Sam Alvey packs in his punches. In somewhat similar spirit to Tyron Woodley, Alvey also opts to fight near the fence for tactical reasons as he stays within earshot of his corner while drawing his opponents into his preferred range.

Possessing two of the best weapons a southpaw can have, Alvey keeps a counter cross at the ready as it typically comes behind his right hook, a punch Alvey is accurate with both coming forward and as a check. And though I am sure a check hook will come in handy against an oncoming Evans, I suspect Alvey’s left hand will serve him best in this matchup.

From the left crosses of Lyoto Machida, the jabs from Ryan Bader, or the left hook of Glover Teixeira, left-hands have certainly been the common culprit of Evans’ career on paper. Even his most recent outing, we saw Evans consistently eat left hands from fellow elder statesman, Dan Kelly.

Although Evans has always had solid head movement, he tends to lean and load heavily to his right side, especially after slipping to his left. Coupled with the fact that he counts a lot on his right hand for offense or extended parries, the former champ tends to be more vulnerable on that side as the over-delineation of duties can often cause for openings.

Nevertheless, the same striking lanes will be open to Evans as it will be interesting to see if he exercises his strengths against his southpaw foe.

I will also be curious to see if Evans looks to get back to his wrestling, as that could be an intangible in this fight. Even though Evans would stray from his wrestling as his career progressed, many forget just how good the former All-American was.

Boasting (at one time) arguably one of the best transitional games in MMA, Evans would move smoothly off of strikes and into explosive level-changing shots as he drove through his opponents. And despite that explosion looking to have lost some muster in Evans’ last time out, it often does not take much to out-point Alvey in regards to effort and activity.

Still, the oddsmakers are not too optimistic about the former champion’s chances of returning to form, as they opened Evans as a slight underdog against Alvey.

Evans should be able to dictate the “where’s” and “when’s” of this fight on paper, but the problem – in my opinion – is that I am not sure where Evans currently lies in the spectrum between former champ and shot fighter.

More specifically, I feel that Evans’ reliance on speed and timing have been a crucial point of diminishing returns that has been prevalent in his performances for some time now.

And considering that the attributes mentioned above tend to go first in aging fighters, this could be a troubling trend for Evans, especially should he fail to find success early. The pick is Alvey as I see him chipping away at the confidence of Evans and eventually feeding him into a crushing left hand.

Official Pick: Alvey – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Alvey – Decision

Main Card Predictions:

  • Moreno def. Pettis
  • Markos def. Grasso
  • Jouban def. Price
  • Bravo def. Bandenay
  • Alvey def. Evans
  • Soukhamthath def. Perez

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Hermanssson def. Scott
  • Ortiz def. Sandoval
  • Yahya def. Briones
  • Quinonez def. Rivas
  • Sanchez def. Morales
  • Rinaldi def. Herrera

Dan’s Plays:

(*like my breakdowns, these are for your reference & entertainment)

Props worth looking at(@

-Bravo/Bandenay “Under 2 1/2” +115 (0.25 Unit)
-Alvey “by TKO” +250 (0.25 Unit)
-Herrera/Rinaldi “Doesn’t go the distance” -105 (0.25 Unit)

Playable parlay pieces(My most confident favorites within play):

-Jack Hermansson (-255)
-Rani Yahya (-235)

Straight plays:

-Alan Jouban -165 (0.5 Unit)
-Andre Soukhamthath +105 (0.5 Unit)

Fights to avoid(live dogs, inflated lines, high intangibles, etc.):

-Grasso vs Markos
-Ortiz vs Sandoval
-Quinonez vs Rivas
-Morales vs Sanchez

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