The UFC makes its debut in Salt Lake City with a card featuring a pair of interesting, if not yet elite prospects at featherweight. There's not much else to say about this card.
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Saturday, UFC Fight Pass has two fights starting at 7 p.m. ET; FOX Sports 1's portion of the preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. while the rest of the main card goes live at 10 p.m. ET.
I like Caceres a lot, but Rodriguez's game is so lethal. The truth is both take chances, but a) Rodriguez doesn't fade over the course of a fight and b) he strikes with significantly more authority. Both fighters take extraordinary risks, but I trust Rodriguez's ability to scramble out of bad spots or create offense from there. Caceres can do that, too, but not to the same extent as Rodriguez. This is the Mexican's fight to lose.
MMA's crazy. We all know anything can happen at virtually any time. But all things being equal, I just don't see how Jason is up to the task. Bermudez does tend to take more punishment than he needs to, but unless we're talking about power hitters or elite technicians, Bermudez has an ability to overcome. He can wrestle, his cardio is fantastic and he's resilient in ways that are hard to describe. I'm not saying Jason can't win, but forced to make a pick, I don't see how to rationally pick against Bermudez from this vantage point.
These two are fairly well matched, but Leites should still be ahead in most categories. On the ground, it shouldn't be close, but the Brazilian is more likely these days to slug it out on the feet. Should that happen, Camozzi is diligent about cutting angles and working distance. The problem is Leites strikes with abandon. He powers forward through jabs and pivots. Camozzi does a lot of the right things and if he's disciplined and active with his footwork, he can take this. But Camozzi likes to exchange too much to be hyper disciplined about movement. That makes me lean towards the Brazilian's chances.
Cummings is going to look to counterstrike and he's had some success with it in more recent bouts, but the Argentine's combinations are really becoming fluid. His timing of when to attack while keeping defensive responsibilities has massively improved. Cummings' timing has improved as well, as has his sense of what works for him in what contexts. Still, Ponzinibbio's comprehension of range and how to employ his various attacks at what times in what space should be too much for the American.
Gigliotti is still rough around the edges, and this is his UFC debut, but I like his chances here. He values putting the fight on the terms that favor him most, something Smith has not done. Smith, while also talented and athletic, is all too willing to exchange on the terms his opponents offer. Gigliotti is more likely to work off of a takedown, which could be tough to come by given Smith's underrated takedown defense, but ultimately, he's too wild with his strikes to effectively defend his positioning over time. From there, Gigliotti has enough to catch a sub or at least dominate position.
This one seems close to impossible to predict. Moroz should win. She has the better striking at range, but she's a mess in the grappling department. Taylor isn't exactly the one to make her pay for those errors, so I lean towards Moroz. That said, Moroz makes any number of decisions in tie ups that any kind of competent grappler would use to make her pay. If Taylor forces the issue, this will likely reward her. I don't know if she will, especially since she's undersized and likely working behind Moroz's jab. Still, I have very little confidence in the outcome here.
From the preliminary card:
Court McGee def. Dominique Steele
Viktor Pesta def. Marcin Tybura
\Jason Novelli def. David Teymur
Teruto Ishihara def. Horacio Gutierrez
Cub Swanson def. Tatsuya Kawajiri
Justin Ledet def. Chase Sherman