Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight kickboxers Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres will clash TONIGHT (Aug. 6, 2016) at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rodriguez is unbeaten inside the Octagon and has looked better in each performance. In just four fights, "Pantera" has made a name for himself in impressive fashion, and the Mexican fighter will look to capitalize on that hype tonight. Caceres also has the reputation of flashy kicker, though he’s been less consistent inside the cage. That said, Caceres has looked better than ever since moving back up to 145 pounds, so this could be a very big night for him.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Andre Fili (UFC 197), Charles Rosa (UFC 188), Dan Hooker (UFC 192)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Rodriguez is a devastating kicker with some sneaky grappling skill as well. When allowed to work his game, Rodriguez punishes his opponent with a variety of kicking techniques.
For the first time in a long time, Rodriguez is faced with an opponent who isn't likely to try and pressure inside or take him down. Caceres may — and probably should — try to switch it up a bit, but it's not his strength.
"Pantera" should be able to let loose ... even more than usual.
Really, the main concern for Rodriguez should be his conditioning. This is his first five round fight, and Salt Lake City is well-above sea level.
Of course, a quick knockout would be ideal, but it shouldn't be counted on.
With that in mind, Rodriguez could really make things easier for himself with a few reactive takedowns. Caceres comes in pretty wildly at times, and Rodriguez has shown an excellent top game in recent fights. Plus, it would give him a chance to rest while his opponent works.
Record: 12-8 (1)
Key Wins: Cole Miller (UFC 199), Sergio Pettis (UFC on FOX 10), Roland Delorme (UFC 165)
Key Losses: Francisco Rivera (UFC Fight Night 68), Urijah Faber (UFC 175)
Keys to Victory: Like his opponent, Caceres is a high-volume and flashy kickboxer with some solid submission grappler. Since moving up to 145 pounds, Caceres has looked to be a more physical force as well.
While most are overlooking Caceres — his record is a bit ugly and his Bantamweight run ended poorly — he does have a very real chance here. Caceres throws at a higher rate and has always shown a great gas tank, whereas Rodriguez has definitely slowed down in past fights.
At high elevation, that could become a big deal quickly.
With that in mind, Caceres needs to put a high pace on Rodriguez. He doesn't have to try to pressure inside, but Caceres must be constantly trying to gain an angle and throw strikes, which will force Rodriguez to exchange or retreat.
Either way, it will cost energy.
If Rodriguez slows down, Caceres is primed to take over with his volume and grappling. He excels at overwhelming tired or slower opponents, and even a great prospect like Yair Rodriguez is less lethal once fatigued.
Bottom Line: It’s a fun fight of flashy kickboxers, and one of them is perhaps the division’s best prospect.
This is a very big moment for Rodriguez. At just 23 years old, he’s received his first main event slot, and that’s because UFC is quite aware of his potential. With a win, Rodriguez is primed to be a star and make a title run.
A loss, on the other hand, will slow his hype train and send Rodriguez to the back of the line.
Caceres also has a huge opportunity on his hands. Rodriguez has a ton of momentum behind him, and Caceres can turn that into his own benefit if he pulls off the upset. After being bounced from Bantamweight, that’s quite the turnaround.
If Caceres comes up short, it’s undoubtedly a missed opportunity. He won’t lose much ground, as most expect him to lose, but this is his chance to announce himself as a player at Featherweight. If he loses, he’ll have to work for some time to earn another chance like this.
At UFC Fight Night 92, Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres will thrown down TONIGHT in the main event. Which fighter will leave the Octagon with his hand raised?