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UFC 187 fight card: Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga full fight preview

Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga will collide this Saturday night (May 23, 2015) at UFC 187 inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a match up of two well-rounded combatants, what adjustments must be made for either man to claim victory? Find out below!

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweights Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga will slug it out this Saturday night (May 23, 2015) at the UFC 187: "Johnson vs. Cormier" pay-per-view (PPV) event inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Since his most recent loss to Demetrious Johnson, Benavidez has been on the comeback trail. "Beefcake" first scored a foot tap-inducing guillotine victory over Tim Elliott and followed it up by battering Dustin Ortiz across three rounds. He'll look to continue that win streak here against top-five opposition here.

Despite getting blown out of the water by both Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson, Moraga has proven himself to be one of the best flyweights in the world. He's currently on a two-fight win streak, including a submission finish of top prospect Justin Scoggins.

Let's take a closer look at the keys to victory for both fighters.

Joseph Benavidez

Record: 21-4

Key Wins: Ian McCall (UFC 156), Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 28), Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 57)

Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 9, UFC 152), Dominick Cruz (WEC 50, WEC 42)

Keys to Victory: At this point in his career, Benavidez is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the world. He's used his wrestling and submission skills to toss his opponent around since the start of his career, but his technical stand up has become equally dangerous in the last few years.

All in all, those skills have combined to result in 15 finishes.

In this fight, Benavidez should have all the advantages. On paper, he's the more experienced fighter with superior wrestling, kickboxing, and submissions.

In order to fully capitalize on these advantages and potentially score a finish, Benavidez should keep his opponent guessing. In his last fight, he spent a bit too much time head hunting, despite having great success on the mat in the first round.

Instead, the Team Alpha Male representative should threaten his opponent with power shots before transitioning into takedowns. Moraga -- despite his college wrestling experience -- has experienced difficulties against strong wrestlers in the past, and Benavidez has the takedowns to plague him.

And once he's on top, Benavidez will surely be on the hunt for another submission hold.

John Moraga

Record: 16-3

Key Wins: Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 35), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 50), Chris Cariaso (UFC 155)

Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 8), John Dodson (UFC Fight Night 42)

Keys to Victory: Moraga is an aggressive counter striker, stalking his opponent and forcing opportunities to land his powerful punches. In addition, Moraga has proven to have seriously nasty front chokes and has finished eight of his opponents via submission.

This is a tough match up for Moraga. In order to defeat his opponent -- who's currently the 6-1 favorite -- Moraga needs to keep the pressure on and capitalize on any mistakes Benavidez makes.

Though Benavidez is an offensive dynamo, but he can leave himself open to counter punches. If Moraga gets in his face, Benavidez will surely respond with heaters of his own.

Moraga needs to brave that fire and look for his counter shots.

Additionally, Moraga needs to be ready to defend his opponent's takedowns and threaten with chokes. It will be hard to finish his opponent with a guillotine, but if he can deter his opponent from shooting, he's made his life much easier.

Bottom Line: Both fighters are at the top of their division and are in the title hunt, despite their losses to the current champion. There simply aren't a lot of contenders at flyweight, so a three-fight win streak would mean a lot.

Benavidez is in a tough position. His first fight with Johnson was quite close, but the second one was suddenly over before either man settled into their rhythm. To get another title shot, Benavidez simply needs to keep grinding away and winning fights.

Moraga is just the next step.

On the other hand, Moraga could hugely elevate his stock with a win here. He's beaten some tough fighters but has fallen badly against elite competition in both his chances thus far. If he could upend that pattern, it could be enough to earn him a title eliminator bout.

For either man, a loss would be a huge setback. If Benavidez is upset, it would eliminate all the momentum he has built up in the last year or so. For Moraga, it would be the third time in a row where he's faltered at a chance to step up, and he likely wouldn't get more opportunities.

At UFC 187, Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga will clash in the opening bout of the main card. Which fighter will emerge victorious?

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