Weekend Breakdown & Preview: UFC Fight Night 114

Live from Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass, Sat, Aug 5, 2017

--- Main Card (Fox Sports 1: 10pmET/7pmPT) ---

Flyweight - 125 lbs: Sergio Pettis (15-2) vs Brandon Moreno (14-3)

Strawweight - 115 lbs: Randa Markos (7-4) vs Alexa Grasso (9-1)

Welterweight - 170 lbs: Alan Jouban (15-5) vs Niko Price (9-0)

Featherweight - 145 lbs: Martin Bravo (11-0) vs Humberto Bandenay (13-4)

Middleweight - 185 lbs: Rashad Evans (19-6-1) vs Sam Alvey (30-9)

Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Alejandro Perez (17-6-1) vs Andre Soukhamthath (11-4)

 

--- Prelims (Fox Sports 1: 8pmET/5pmPT) ---

Middleweight - 185 lbs: Brad Scott (11-4) vs Jack Hermansson (15-3)

Flyweight - 125 lbs: Dustin Ortiz (16-7) vs Hector Sandoval (14-3)

Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Rani Yahya (23-9) vs Enrique Briones (16-6-1)

Bantamweight - 135 lbs: Diego Rivas (7-0) vs Jose Alberto Quinones (5-2)

 

--- Fight Pass Prelims (UFC Fight Pass: 7pmET/4pmPT) ---

Flyweight - 125 lbs: Joseph Morales (8-0) vs Roberto Sanchez (7-0)

Lightweight - 155 lbs: Jordan Rinaldi (12-5) vs Alvaro Herrera (9-4)

---

   Back to Mexico we go! When the UFC lands down in Mexico City on Saturday it will be for their fourth event in the country, all of which have been hosted by the Arena Ciudad de Mexico. The headliner features two young potential Flyweight stars who are looking to leap into title contention as Sergio Pettis takes on Brandon Moreno. Already a huge fan favorite after how he performed on season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter and after his huge upset victory at UFC Fight Night 96 over Louis Smolka, Brandon Moreno will look to keep the victory train rolling with a big win in his homeland. Sergio Pettis, currently riding a three fight win streak, will look to play spoiler.

Alvey vs Evans

Did you forget or not know that The Ultimate Fighter season 2 winner and former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans was fighting this weekend? Understandable if you did in fact forget or just didn't know... In all but 2 of Rashad Evans' 21 UFC appearances he has either fought in the main or co-main event of the card that he was apart of. The longest this streak reached was 16 straight which ranged from UFC 63 back in September of 2006 all the way until his last bout with Daniel Kelly at UFC 209. This upcoming clash with "Smile'n" Sam Alvey will make it his third UFC appearance not partaking in the main or co-main event.

It has been a rough time coming back from injury for the former 205 lb champ, Evans as he's currently on the longest losing streak(3) of his 26 fight career. Evans is heading into his second fight at Middleweight and looks to get his first win since 2013. Sam Alvey on the other hand has fought a whole 13 times since 2013 and gone 9-4 in doing so. 6 of those bouts being from 2016 to now(4-2 since 2016). Alvey prides himself on his activity and tries to fight as much as possible. Already holding some solid wins over the likes of Nate MarquardtCezar Ferreira and the man to last beat Evans, Daniel Kelly... A win over a former UFC champion like Evans would surely be the biggest name added onto his resume.

Despite picking up a loss in his last outing, Rashad Evans put on his best performance since his last win in 2013. Now, it was his 185 lb debut so perhaps he was just getting a feel for the division but Kelly forced Evans to go back and forth leading to an exciting split decision victory for Kelly. Generally not one to be the most aggressive throughout fights, Sam Alvey has kind of been known to just relax for the first couple minutes of round one then randomly explode and find the finish as evidenced by his 2014-15 win streak over Dylan Andrews, Cezar Ferreira and Daniel Kelly. A pattern we haven't seen as frequently from Alvey since then, this could be a perfect stylistic match up for Evans to get back in the winners circle. If he can implement that great NCAA Division 1 wrestling that he used during his championship run and beyond, he could really wear down Alvey in the high altitude of Mexico City.

Something that will very surely play a factor in more fights than just this one is just that...the altitude. Alvey is very good at picking his shots regardless of the altitude changes so he should be able to conserve his energy throughout and still be dangerous where as Evans(the former Light Heavyweight) may have more trouble in this environment. Thus being the reason that Evans' wrestling will be his biggest key to victory. Of course, while mixing in his boxing is a must he will need to be wary of the counter hooks, straights and just big shots overall that Alvey will be looking to land. Either man may come out more aggressive than usual so that they can get out of there quick and avoid any potential cardio issues.

Prediction: Alvey UD

Jouban vs Price

Niko Price made an immediate impact upon entering the UFC as he debuted on short notice at UFC 207 and submitted the once surging prospect, Brandon Thatch with an arm triangle choke in an entertaining bout while it lasted. After that, Price took on fellow hot prospect, Alex Morono at UFC Fight Night 104 where the two really battled it out for two full rounds until the final 10 second warning and Price decided it was time to get things over with and unloaded in a flurry of punches dropping Morono against the cage right as the bell sounded(this win was later overturned to a no contest due to Price failing a drug test for marijuana).

Model turned fighter, Alan Jouban returns to the octagon for already his tenth UFC appearance. Coming up short in his last outing against Gunnar Nelson in London, Jouban looks to avoid going on what would be the first losing streak of his 20 fight career. Both fighters have proven to have fan friendly styles and this fight should be nothing short of entertaining. With only six decisions between the two, there's a very good chance we'll be getting a finish in this one.

Often one to create plenty of action sequences, the Louisiana native, Jouban has shown in his last two performances some much smarter approaches as he's utilized his movement and footwork to pick his shots more often than just coming forward aggressively. This worked against Mike Perry but not as well vs Nelson. The big question will be if Price can catch Jouban assuming he continues his recent stylistic trend. If he can, then there's a very good chance he could put Jouban out where as Price has so far shown to be more durable thus far in his undefeated career. This isn't to say that Jouban has bad striking defense...it's more so that his ability to recover after being hurt has just shown to be a bit poor even when he survives the attack. Price was relentless with his finish of Morono and this could spell trouble at some point for Jouban if he gets cornered. Submission and or takedown threats shouldn't be too strong in this match up unless a participant has been hurt/knocked down. If you have this fight as your sleeper pick for fight of the night...I would not disagree with you!

Prediction: Price RD2 (T)KO

Markos vs Grasso

Riding high off the momentum of the biggest win of her career over former UFC Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza, Randa Markos is now set to fight in her very first co-main event. Squaring off across from her in the octagon will be Mexico's own and former Invicta FC standout, Alexa Grasso. As one of the brightest young stars in the division, a win for Mexico's Grasso would be huge for her after coming off her first career loss to Felice Herrig and then earning a top 10 victory over Markos.

Grasso's boxing has been what has caught most people's attention when watching her perform. She is very fast and crisp when she attacks and able to pack on damage in just a matter of moments. That is when she attacks... In her last fight with Herrig, we saw a rather gunshy Grasso who thought she still won despite the clarity of the first two rounds not going in her favor before turning it up in the third. Randa is one of the most durable and tough fighters in the division and will take advantage of any hesitance whether it be with her pressure wrestling or improved boxing. Grasso will need to create space and strike actively throughout while avoiding being taken down if she wants her best chances at victory. No easy task, as Markos has taken down all but one of her UFC opponents(that one being the established wrestler in her own right, Esparza).

It's clear that this is Grasso's biggest fight in her young career and she will have some pressure on her as she'll be fighting at home and coming off a loss. Though being still so young, a loss to a top 10 opponent will not hurt her as much as it would for Randa who with a loss would make it to an unranked opponent. Always a risk that creates pressure of it's own but something that Randa should be able to overcome as she's fought in higher pressure situations before such as in her previous bout or during season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter

The key to this fight will be how offensive Grasso decides to play it on the feet. An area Randa Markos has continually and drastically improved upon and worked on since her time on The Ultimate Fighter. In Markos' last performance, she wasn't as aggressive and in her opponent's face as we usual see her due to the takedown threats of Esparza. With Grasso she wont have to worry about that and may even welcome it thus leading to the likelihood of a classic Randa performance mixed in with some new tricks from the help of her "nomad" style training. For Grasso she will need to stick and move along with avoiding being taken down otherwise it could be a rough night for the hometown girl.

Prediction: Markos RD2 Sub

Pettis vs Moreno

Quickly becoming one of the hottest prospects at 125 lbs if not the hottest prospect, Brandon "The Assassin Baby" Moreno was a contestant on season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter. The season that was dubbed "the Tournament of Champions" and featured champions from other organizations around the globe all fighting for a shot at UFC champion, Demetrious Johnson. Moreno being the World Fighting Federation champion at the time got the call up to compete on the show and was seeded at #16. He ended up fighting in the first fight of the season against the #1 seed, Alexandre Pantoja and put up a valiant effort in a fantastic back and fourth war but inevitably ended up falling short. Impressing everyone with how well he did against the top ranked guy, the potential in the 23 year old Moreno was obvious. He now finds himself undefeated in the UFC and riding a three fight win streak as he gets ready for his first main event inside the octagon.

Sergio "The Phenom" Pettis has been on most hardcore fan's radars for quite some time now. Garnering enough attention just from being clearly quite talented as is, it doesn't hurt to have your big brother be the former WEC and UFC Lightweight champion, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis. Also being 23 and riding a three fight win streak of his own, it too will be Sergio's first main event in the UFC. 

Looking at the match up, it's clear who the more dangerous of the two fighters is...and that's Moreno. Finishing 11 of his 14 victories(10 by submission), Moreno has shown great killer instinct throughout his young career thus far. Compared to Pettis who has 9 decision wins out of his 15 career wins. Sergio is the more tactical of the two and mixes up his approaches well, while Moreno throws most strikes to hurt you and will jump on any submission that presents itself(as seen in his recent victories over Louis Smolka and Dustin Ortiz). Despite Moreno's career finish numbers coming primarily from submissions, you can't dismiss his striking abilities which have hurt his opponents leading to submissions on multiple occasions in the past.

Circling back to the altitude factor of Mexico City, style wise this favors Pettis since he fights more strategically and conserves his energy better than Moreno who is more wild and often looking for the knockout. As the rounds go on this could wear on Moreno's gas tank. But being a native to Mexico, Moreno should be well prepared for the environment as he's fought and lived there before. Pettis would be smart to try to come in with a wrestling heavy game plan to further tire out Moreno but all while being very cautious of the guaranteed submission threats. A tough fight for Pettis early on and assuming he doesn't tire out himself, his chances of coming out with the W will improve as the fight goes on.  With the winner potentially earning a title shot, this is one fight between young talents that you will not want to miss.

Prediction: Moreno RD2 Sub

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