Saturday, August 6th, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah for UFC Fight Night 92: “Rodriguez vs Caceres” by Daniel Tom

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Yair Rodriguez (8-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 23 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Andre Fili (4-23-16)
  • Camp: Izzy-Style Wrestling (Illinois)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF LATAM 1 Winner
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   3 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   3 first round finishes
+   Athletic & explosive mover
^   Covers distance quickly
+   Dynamic kicking attack
^   Variates stances & style
+/-Rarely strikes from the left side
–    Low hands/head upright
+   Improved overall wrestling
^   Shows solid hip awareness
+   Active & attacking guard
+   Excellent leg dexterity
^   Retains guard well


Alex Caceres (12-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 28 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 73.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Cole Miller (6-4-16)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 12 Alum
+   2 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Deceptive speed & athleticism
+   Excellent footwork
^   Good outside foot awareness
+   Accurate jab
^   Hard left cross follow-ups
+   Solid kicking game
^   Variates to legs & head
–    Low & loose hands
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Maintains base & balance
+   Does well inside scrambles
^   Actively looks for back


The main event for Salt Lake City features fireworks in the featherweight division as Yair Rodriguez takes on Alex Caceres. With the promotional hype machine behind him, Mexico’s brightest prospect will attempt to further his accession with this showcase spot. Looking to spoil the party is Alex Caceres, a TUF 12 contestant who has steadily become a veteran under the UFC banner as this will be his fifteenth fight with the organization.

Although the oddsmakers will suggest that Rodriguez is a heavy favorite, I feel that this fight is much closer than meets the eye. Not only is this MMA, but more specifically, this is a match between two dynamic strikers. With each fighter employing free-flowing methods of their own, it can difficult to dissect exactly how the exchanges will go. Both men can manage and control distances with equal effect, but Yair certainly has an edge in regards to his arsenal and the explosiveness in which he throws it. A poster boy for dynamic striking, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees in regards to deciphering the values of flashiness versus effectiveness.

As a Tae Kwon Do black belt myself, I can truly appreciate Yair’s technique applications, but I also immediately noticed his lack of hand presence and habitual one-sided ways. Despite the constant stance switches and dazzling displays, Rodriguez seldom throws any strikes off of his left side. With forms of his left-sided offense including lackadaisical paws for punches and the occasional left-kick accentuation(aerial attacks ala his Andre Fili finish), the Mexican barely clears 10-attempts off his left side per round(not including ground strikes). This single-sided approach makes Rodriguez’s stance switching crucial, as it opens up options and gives the illusion of a dual-sided repertoire.

Luckily for Rodriguez, his right-sided sensibilities may serve him well in this particular matchup. His opponent, Caceres, lives up to his moniker of Bruce Lee-Roy as he keeps a loose-flowing standing guard. Although this style allows him to free-flow combinations from odd angles, it also opens him up defensively as his head is often upright with his hands low. Even against the shorter opposition in Sergio Pettis & Edwin Figueroa, we saw Caceres dropped or stunned by head kicks off of the right-side on multiple occasions. For this reason, I feel Yair’s right-sided head kicks will be the strike to look out for in the event of a finish.

However, Yair has shown similar defensive liabilities of his own. Like many traditional based martial artists who leap in-and-out, Rodriguez tends to keep his head upright with his hands low. Although Yair demonstrates good defensive awareness to kicks, we have seen him caught most by straight lefts from multiple stances & opponents in the UFC. Considering that Caceres’ left cross is one of his most-effective tools, this will certainly be the strike to look for from him. Since moving shop to the MMA Lab, Alex has made marked improvements to his overall game.

Always an underrated grappler, we have seen Caceres start to bring his striking game to life. With southpaw stablemates to work with such as Benson Henderson and Bryan Barberena, we have seen Alex sharpen his tools standing. However, Alex tends to be reliant on connecting his combinations off of his active jab. Although that is fundamentally something good, he may have trouble finding his distance against the non-stop(and sometimes sporadic) movement of Rodriguez. Although Yair still lacks a presence within boxing ranges, his age, as well as other intangibles, suggests that he may make larger-leaps than usual in regards to fight-to-fight improvements.

However, where I feel Yair’s hype train may get caught speeding is on the floor. Although his leg dexterity does him a lot of favors as far as translating his dynamics, the developing Mexican still shows signs of a possible lack of positional awareness. When I refer to Yair’s positional awareness, I am not directing that toward his wrestling, as I feel Rodriguez will have an edge in that department due to his athleticism and arsenal shown in past performances. However, when searching for submissions inside the scramble, Yair’s free-flowing approach may come at a high-price if he is not careful.

Whether Rodriguez finds himself on top, bottom, or even from the clinch, we have seen him drop for heel-hooks with regularity(despite failing to come close on a catch). Say what you will about his abilities, Alex Caceres can be a dangerous fighter to threaten with heel-hooks. An underrated wrestler himself, Alex has found himself attacked by many leg-lock threats throughout his career. Showing competent in textbook defenses such as prying legs and spinning-out, Caceres prefers doing a defensive maneuver that I particularly fancy myself.

Whenever Alex’s opposition rolls for a leg, Caceres will promptly cross his legs in a body-triangle fashion to kill the submission attempt. At the same time, Alex will continue with the momentum of said attempt, until the leverage point allows him to sit up to his opponents back. From here, Caceres will grasp the hips of his opposition as he kicks his legs back, freeing himself up to now attack the back of a turtled opponent. Aside from Charles Rosa(who gave Yair his toughest fight to date), we have not seen Rodriguez taken to task on the floor. If Caceres is to win this fight, much less rounds, I feel that it will be accomplished on the mat.

Although Yair is a competitor who appears to thrive inside the storm, we have seen brighter prospects have to pay their taxes at some point in this sport. That said, I do agree that Yair should be favored in this fight, although not at the number he is priced at as this match is much closer than the common-narrative suggests. For my money, a play on the underdog(especially by submission) may be more worth your time, but I ultimately recommend in playing this one lightly as it has caution signs written all over it. Although I’d love to see a Caceres victory as there are clear paths, it is hard to pick against the rider of storms that is Yair Rodriguez.

Official Pick: Rodriguez – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Rodriguez – Decision


Dennis Bermudez (15-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tatsuya Kawajiri (2-21-16)
  • Camp: Long Island MMA (New York)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 14 Finalist
+   NCAA Div. 1 All-American
+   4 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   4 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Athletic/well-conditioned
+   Good fundamental footwork
+   Excellent combination striker
+   91% Takedown defense
^   Superb hips & base
+   Scrambles well/positionally aware
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Heavily forward on front foot


Rony Jason (14-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 32 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: No contest / Damon Jackson (5-30-15)
  • Camp: Evolucao Thai (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil 1 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   12 first round finishes
+   Heavy hands
+   Dangerous knees & elbows
+/-Aggressive inside the pocket
^   Counter availabilities
+   Active & agressive guard
^   Favors triangle-armbars
–    45% Takedown defense
+/-1 Fight in 2-years
+/-1st Fight outside of Brazil


The co-main event of the evening features a fun match in the featherweight division as Dennis Bermudez does battle with Rony Jason. Riding a 7-fight winning streak not long ago, Dennis Bermudez has dropped 2 of his last 3-fights as he attempts to start another streak here. Standing in his way is Rony Jason, who will be returning off a 1-year suspension as he looks to get back to form.

Starting off on the feet, I feel that Bermudez is the more technical striker. Employing aggressive doses of in-and-out footwork, Dennis puts together his punch combinations smoothly as he often punctuates with hard leg kicks. Consistently striking his way inside, Bermudez loves working in the clinch as he unabashedly uncorks uppercuts and knees. Although Dennis has shown improvements to his head positioning and overall defense, the Long Islander’s inherent aggression is what usually gets him off course and into trouble.

In facing a heavy-handed striker like Rony Jason, Bermudez will have to be extra careful when engaging inside the pocket. Not only does Bermudez’s aggression make him more hittable, but he also tends to keep his weight heavily on his front foot. Traditionally, this head-first approach opens him up to leg kicks and other right-sided attacks such as uppercuts and knees. We saw all of those things demonstrated to great effect in his fight with Jeremy Stephens. Considering Rony Jason is very active with his intercepting knees, that will likely be the strike to look for from the Brazilian.

Although Jason throws hooks with force from both sides that will command Bermudez’s respect, Rony is also most hittable when doing so as he tends to square his stance and abandon his defenses. Despite Dennis doing his best work coming forward, the New York native throws an accurate right cross off the counter that I see having play in this matchup. On the ground, both men are accoladed grapplers in different areas as they each employ completely different styles. As his All-American credentials would suggest, Bermudez will have a clear wrestling advantage as he is also the more positional player in regards to MMA grappling.

With his stout but powerful frame, Bermudez commands a superb base as his hips often position himself to safety. Couple that with his well-versed takedown game, Dennis will certainly be deciding where this fight takes place. With the majority Bermudez’s losses coming by way of submission, it can be easy to draw a path for the jiu-jitsu prowess of Jason. However, Bermudez’s most recent submission defeats(1 in the last 5-years) have traditionally come off chaotic scrambles or from being hurt. Although Jason can be relentless with set-ups & submission attempts, he does not usually create nor capitalize in scrambles as he does most of his work from the guard.

Though the Brazilian is more than talented enough to catch Bermudez here, Dennis demonstrates excellent fundamentals of fighting inside the guard. Rarely will you see Dennis put his hands on the mat, as he likes to maintain inside-bicep control or even stack from a can-opener to strike. If Jason cannot hurt Dennis or disrupt his senses in the scramble, then it may be a long night of working to-and-from the fence for the Brazilian. That said, if the New York native fails to keep his cool, he may once again end up losing the lead due to small mistakes. Ultimately, I feel Bermudez should be able to outwork Jason in a clear but competitive affair.

Official Pick: Bermudez – Decision

Official Outcome: Bermudez – Decision


Thales Leites (25-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 34 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Gegard Mousasi (2-27-16)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   4 KO victories
+   14 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   Improved striking
^   Heavy cross-hook combinations
+   Hard leg kicks
–    Carries/retracts left-hand low
^   Counter availabilities
+   Strong body-lock/outside trips
^   Favors attempts off fence
+   Excellent back take ability
+   Smooth transitional grappler
^   Dangerous arm-triangle in transit


Chris Camozzi (24-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 29 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Victor Miranda (5-29-16)
  • Camp: Factory-X Muay Thai (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   TUF 11 Alum
+   8 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   Accurate distance striker
^   2nd most landed at MW(in UFC)
+   Excellent leg kicks
^   Most landed in MW history(UFC)
+   Active jabs & feints
^   Takes angles well
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Good under-hook awareness
–    Sometimes struggles w/grappling
+   Solid chin/never stopped


In a middleweight maelstrom taking place on the main card, Thales Leites takes on Chris Camozzi. Despite winning his first five fights upon his UFC return, Thales Leites has seemingly found himself on a 2-fight skid. With those losses coming at the hands of the division’s best, Thales will now look to get himself back on track with a win here. Standing in his way is Chris Camozzi, another veteran of the UFC’s middleweight division who has been finding more success in his second time around.

Starting off on the feet, I feel that the on-paper advantage in striking belongs to Camozzi. Although Muay Thai has long been the base of Camozzi’s game, his southpaw stylings have come to fruition with the embrace of angles and an active jab. Chris has also shown to be much-more-effective with feints, particularly from the hip as he parlays his leg kick threats into punch opportunities. Not only does Camozzi show improvement in initiating and putting together punches, but he does so as he simultaneously steps to the outside, giving himself the superior outside foot position.

Although these intricacies have helped Camozzi’s combination game come to life, Leites will present his fair share of threats standing. A long time member of the renown Nova Uniao camp, we have seen steady improvements to Leites’ striking acumen in the second half of his career. Employing a similar stalking style to his stablemates, Thales will measure his opponents looking for hooks & leg kicks off the counter or on the attack. Considering that Leites has seldom faced southpaw opposition in his career(in-and-out of the UFC), that will certainly be the big question heading into exchanges here.

Despite having excellent timing on his leg kicks, Thales will have limited looks against his southpaw opposition, who happens to lead the division in leg kicks landed all-time. Although Thales may not find his usual success downstairs, he throws a solid cross-hook combination that I feel is live in this matchup. In an open stance matchup(southpaw versus orthodox) a cross-hook combination can be effective to not only land but close the distance at an advantageous angle. We saw Rafael Natal and Tom Watson have success with this combination on multiple occasions against Camozzi, especially considering his defensive habits.

Often slipping hard to his left side, Camozzi does a good job of getting offline from crosses down the center, but tends to reset with is right-hand low. Traditionally, this has made Chris more hittable off his right side in exchanges, which in my opinion, makes the left hook of Leites the punch to look for in this bout. However, Thales tends to retract and even carry his left-hand low. Typically, this has opened up Thales to attacks from the right side, as this was evident in the damage sustained to his left eye in his last 3-fights. Although Camozzi is not the heaviest hitter, he throws with activity & accuracy that can influence exchanges as well as scorecards.

Leites’ best chance at winning this fight will certainly reside on the floor. A legitimate black belt in jiu-jitsu hailing from a camp with underrated wrestling, Leites’ path to victory seems clear as the oddsmakers have him favored in this fight. However, Camozzi is not as easily thwarted with grappling pressure as he once was. More importantly, Chris defends takedowns particularly well from the fence and inside the clinch, the two places Thales prefers to score. With Camozzi only being taken down by reactionary takedowns in the past 3-years, I feel that Leites will have to get his through caught kicks as he traditionally shows little success in his level-changing shots.

Even if Leites can successfully ground Camozzi, Chris has shown developments that suggest he won’t be as susceptible to submission artists. Parlaying the superb under-hook awareness he shows inside the clinch, Camozzi will also use under-hooks to get up from the bottom. Using these strict fundamental get-ups as opposed to turtling-out to stand, Chris may at the very least shutdown back-take opportunities, if not stand back up. However, if this fight happens to take place in the small cage, the grappling probabilities will likely be in Thales’ favor.

Although I do not disagree with the Brazilian being favored, I feel that this fight is deceptively closer than it appears. Although both men are coming off resurgences, I feel that the fighter with the on-paper advantages is not the fighter who is on the up-trend. Ultimately, if Thales cannot keep this up close and personal, I see Camozzi’s volume putting up more points on the board as I suspect a breakthrough performance.

Official Pick: Camozzi – Decision

Official Outcome: Leites – Submission (round 2)


Santiago Ponzinibbio (22-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Court McGee (4-16-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil 2 Alum
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Striking Base
+   12 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Strong pace & pressure
+   Excellent combination puncher
^   High-volume/variating attacks
+   Accurate R. cross-L. hook
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
–    Strikes sometime retract low
+/-55% Takedown defense
+   Showing wrestling improvements
+   Good get-up urgency
+   Strikes well off the breaks
+/-Gets hit/recovers well


Zak Cummings (19-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Nicolas Dalby (4-10-16)
  • Camp: Glory MMA & Fitness (Missouri)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 17 Alum
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Wrestling Base
+   5 KO victories
+   9 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Deceptively manages distance
+   Accurate right hook
+   Dangerous left-hand
^   Variates angles of attacks
+/-Carries hands low
^   Moves head well
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Favors takedowns from the fence
+   Excellent from front-headlock
^   Crafty chokes & controls
+   Good chin/never stopped


In what has the makings of a welterweight war, Santiago Ponzinibbio does battle with Zak Cummings. Since coming off the second season of TUF Brazil, we have seen Ponzinibbio evolve into a more complete martial artist as well as a fast-rising fan favorite. Standing in the Argentinian’s way is Zak Cummings, a crafty veteran who is also riding a 2-fight streak coming into this contest. With both men on the verge of cracking Top-15 competition, expect each fighter to be looking to make a statement.

Starting off on the feet, the on-paper advantage in striking should point to Ponzinibbio. From the output of his combination punching to the placement awareness of his footwork, Santiago’s pressure-fighting abilities are clearly the strengths of his game. That said, I do not believe the striking advantage will be as vast as you may think. Zak Cummings is an underrated striker, who has recently gotten a good grasp of his heavy-hands as he’s scored knockdowns in 3 of his last 4-fights. Although Zak’s low-handed guard looks like a red flag considering Santiago’s possible speed edge, Cummings does a good job of moving his head just out of range as he deceptively manages the distance well.

With Zak’s granite chin also amongst the supporting cast of this countering style, Cummings can compensate for speed discrepancies as he counters with conviction. Although he wields a crafty check-hook that will likely serve him well, Cummings often follows up with a left shovel hook that Santiago will have to mind. Sometimes leaning forward off his combinations, Ponzinibbio also shows a tendency to retract his right hand almost to his chest level. Traditionally, this has opened up Ponzinibbio to counter hooks and jabs in exchanges. That said, if Cummings fails to find his counter shots, Ponzinibbio could ultimately put up more points on the board should he maintain discipline with his volume.

Although Zak’s advantages in this fight will certainly reside in the grappling department, grounding his Argentinian opposition will not be an easy task. Since moving shop to American Top Team, we have seen Santiago’s supporting game take gradual steps up. Although he has still shown the be susceptible to takedowns in the open and against the cage, Ponzinibbio demonstrates urgency in getting back to his feet and an improved ability to break away from the fence. Santiago will need these facets of his game firing against Zak, who will likely be looking to close the distance for the bout’s duration. With Zak scoring the majority of his takedowns from the fence, look for Cummings to corral Santiago into a clinch anytime near the cage.

Anytime Zak fails to take down Santiago he may be subject to strikes off the break, as Ponzinibbio is particularly dangerous in those small spaces. However, similar to his striking stanzas, Santiago will lean heavily forward as he pushes from the clinch. With Cummings being particularly good from the front-headlock, this could give him the looks he needs to snap down his opposition and initiate grappling exchanges. Should Cummings ground Ponzinibbio, I feel Zak’s relentless pressure could open up a submission or sway the momentum at the very least. As one of the tighter matches on the main card, I recommend caution in playing either man here. Although I do not disagree with Santiago being favored to win, I feel that Cummings is an underrated fighter who carries the right type of intangibles. Durable southpaws who can wrestle seem to be a potent combination that upsets the odds, as I feel Cummings fits that bill here.

Official Pick: Cummings – Decision

Official Outcome: Ponzinibbio – Decision


Trevor Smith (13-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 35 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Dan Miller (7-12-15)
  • Camp: Ring Demon Jiu-jitsu (Washington)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Wrestling Base
+   9 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   1 KO victory
+   Steadily improved striking
+   Hard right leg kicks
+   Stifling cage & clinch pressure
+   Solid double-leg takedown
+   Competent submission grappler
^   Dangerous Guillotine choke
–    Leans head heavily forward
^   Often caught/countered coming in
+/-1 fight in 2-years


Joseph Gigliotti (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 22 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 68.5″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / John Popple (4-15-16)
  • Camp: Power MMA (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management Fair:

Supplemental info:
+   Wrestling Base
+   4 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Heavy right-hand
+   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Physically imposing in clinch
+   Good takedown ability
^   Changes levels well
+   Solid top control
^   Hard ground striker
+   Shows choke competency
+/-UFC Debut


In a middleweight bout on the main card, Trevor Smith welcomes Joseph Gigliotti to the UFC. A veteran who has been in the cage with the division’s top-10, Trevor Smith will be seeking to surmount some momentum as he looks to return from another one-year layoff. Tasked with the notorious UFC debut, Power MMA prospect, Joseph Gigliotti looks to make a statement with this main card spotlight.

Both men come from wrestling bases as Smith has the advantage in regards to his Iowa State credentials. That said, he may not necessarily be the more effective MMA wrestler. Despite Trevor’s takedown ability as seen in his patent double-leg, the former All-American has not shown the best takedown defense in his MMA career. Tall for the division at 6’3″, Trevor has often found his opposition coming in underneath and beating him at under-hooks to score. Against the game of Joseph Gigliotti, Smith will have to be alert to this as the stout debutant possess an explosive power-double.

Demonstrating a knack for maintaining top position, Gigliotti shows solid positional awareness as he floats from ride-positions delivering hard shots with effect. Being underneath Joseph could be troublesome for Smith, who often reverts to a turtle off of failed shots or stand-up attempts. That said, Gigliotti will have to mind his takedown entries as the Guillotine is Smith’s best choke. Although Trevor has not officially scored a submission, much less Guillotine choke in over 4-years, an excited Gigliotti could easily fall into a veteran’s trap.

On the feet, neither fighter is particularly crafty as they both lack a consistent volume. Smith has the wider arsenal as he throws nice leg kicks, but he may lay off those considering the takedown threat of Joseph. Aside from sheer knockout power, where I see Gigliotti having an advantage standing is in Smith’s posture. Although the overhand is typically open on the taller man, Trevor tends to hunch forward as he leans into his assaults. Traditionally, this has made Smith susceptible to uppercuts and knees in exchanges and on his entries.

With uppercuts showing to have a strong presence in Joseph’s arsenal, I expect that will be the key-punch look for in this fight. Ultimately, I suggest staying away from playing this match, as we essentially have a debutant going against an inconsistent fighter. Although I do see Joseph finding a finish, you can count on Trevor Smith being a legitimate test for Gigliotti’s skill-set.

Official Pick: Gigliotti – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Smith – Decision


Maryna Moroz (7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 67″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Cristina Stanciu (4-10-16)
  • Camp: YK Promotion (Ukraine)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Ukrainian National Boxing Team
+   Master of Sports: Boxing & Kickboxing
+   4 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   1 KO victory
+   Manages distance well
^   Good in & out movement
+   Hard left hook-right hand
+   Solid lead leg kicks
+   Dangerous armbars
+/-Will pull guard
+/-Aggressive in exchanges


Danielle Taylor (7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’0″ Age: 26 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: N/A
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Jamie Colleen (3-5-16)
  • Camp: Saekson Muay Thai (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   1 Submission win
+   2 first round finishes
+   3 KO victories
+   Heavy hands
+   Powerful & athletic frame
^   Solid base & balance
+   Good footwork
^   Moves well
+   Dangerous right-hand
?   Questionable overall ground game


Kicking off the main card on Fox Sports 1 is a strawweight scrap between Maryna Moroz and UFC newcomer Danielle Taylor. Storming onto the scene with a submission win over Joanne Calderwood, Moroz has since gone 2-1 with the organization as she attempts her way up the ranks. With her original opponent forced to withdraw, Moroz will now face the dangerous debutant Danielle Taylor.

With only one fight in the last year and limited footage available, it makes it difficult to access the skill of Taylor accurately. Despite standing short for the division at 5-foot even, Danielle appears to be very athletic as she moves well and deceptively closes the distance. Having a strong taste for the counter, Taylor will often follow her opponents strike retractions inside as she throws with heat. Wielding a potent right-hand, I suspect that will be the punch to look for from Taylor.

Despite Moroz being a member of the Ukranian National Boxing Team, her inherent aggression makes her more hittable than her Master of Sports titles would suggest. Considering that Maryna traditionally takes damage from right hands in fights, she will need to check her stubbornness in this match due to her opposition’s heavy-handed nature. That said, Moroz is still very young as she continues to show fight-to-fight improvements. We saw that in her last fight, as the Ukrainian was a bit more disciplined with her in-and-out attacks.

Although Taylor’s looming right-hand makes a confident pick for Moroz difficult, I feel the potential plan B of Maryna will help hedge her bets. Whether the exchanges are going her way or not, Moroz shows to mix in a healthy amount of grappling engagements. Whether she is going to her trip repertoire or sporadically pulling guard, Maryna’s nature to mix things up may serve her well in testing Taylor’s grappling.

With even less footage on Taylor’s ground game, it is hard to say with confidence of how she will fair defensively or offensively. That said, I have to assume Moroz will have a slight edge being one of the division’s more proven submission threats. I strongly recommend staying away from playing this fight, as the limited sample size makes for a high-intangible affair. Ultimately, I see the Ukranian’s range and distance troubling the newcomer in a competitive scrap.

Official Pick: Moroz – Decision

Official Outcome: Moroz – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • McGee def. Steele
  • Tybura def. Pesta
  • Teymur def. Novelli
  • Ishihara def. Gutierrez
  • Swanson def. Kawajiri
  • Ledet def. Sherman

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:


Team #1: $50,000.00

-Teruto Ishihara ($11,500.00)
-Yair Rodriguez ($10,500.00)
-Zak Cummings ($10,000.00)
-Joseph Gigliotti ($9,300.00)
-Chris Camozzi ($8,700.00)

Team Summary:

In my first recommended roster for Draft Kings, I went with Yair Rodriguez and Teruto Ishihara as my high-tier options. For the reasons listed above, Yair Rodriguez makes for a valuable pick at $10,500.00 as his flashy finishes are favored to come through in the 5-round main event. Although Teruto Ishihara is the most expensive option at $11,500.00, he is worth the wager as I feel he holds a stylistic & experience advantage over Horacio Gutierrez, in what is a promising bout of two action fighters.

For my mid to low-tier underdog options, I chose to go with Zak Cummings, Joseph Gigliotti, and Chris Camozzi. Although I predicted Zak Cummings to score the upset by decision, Zak has scored knockdowns in 3 of his last 4-fights as he is fighting a willing dance partner who traditionally takes damage. Quietly carrying the 3rd-highest average point percentage on the card(67.7), I feel that the durable Cummings is a steal at $10,000.00 flat. For the reasons stated above, Joseph Gigliotti also comes in at a bargain of $9,300.00 as I have him favored to find a finish against Trevor Smith. Lastly, I went with Chris Camozzi as I also feel he scores an upset for the reasons listed above. At the low price of $8,700.00, I feel Camozzi is one of the more promising picks to support the bottom of your roster.

Team #2: $49,500.00

-Teruto Ishihara ($11,500.00)
-Dennis Bermudez ($10,400.00)
-Santiago Ponzinibbio ($9,400.00)
-Joseph Gigliotti ($9,300.00)
-Alex Caceres ($8,900.00)

Team Summary:

For my second recommended Draft Kings roster, I chose Teruto Ishihara and Dennis Bermudez as my high-tier picks. Not only do I feel the experience & activity of Teruto Ishihara will allow him to get the edge in this all-action affair, but he is also the 2nd-highest average scorer(68.75) on the card. Although I feel Dennis Bermudez will likely get things done by way of decision, he scores healthy doses of knockdowns and takedowns as he comes in as the 4th-highest average scorer(65.5) on the card for $10,400.00.

For my mid to low-tier options, I elected to go with Santiago Ponzinibbio, Joseph Gigliotti, and Alex Caceres. Although I officially picked Cummings to score the upset, it is undoubtedly a close contest as Santiago Ponzinibbio is favored to win. Carrying the highest average score on the entire card(73.5), Ponzinibbio is a steal at $9,400.00. For the reasons listed above, I also feel that Joseph Gigliotti is a bargain at $9,300.00 as he his favored to finish his fight. Finally, I went with Alex Caceres to round out the roster. Although I officially picked Rodriguez to win, Caceres arguably puts up more volume as I stated his paths to victory above. If you also have a sneaky suspicion of the upset, Caceres makes a valuable pick as a 5-round fight participant at $8,900.00.

Props worth looking at(

-Dennis Bermudez by Decision: +152 (0.5 Unit)
-Tybura/Pesta Over 1 1/2: -140 (1 Unit)
-Chris Camozzi by Decision: +230 (.25 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Teruto Ishihara
-Cub Swanson

Fights to avoid:

-McGee vs Steele
-Moroz vs Taylor
-Ledet vs Sherman

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

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