Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Alex Caceres and Jason Knight will throw down this Saturday (Jan. 28, 2017) at UFC on FOX 23 inside Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.
Caceres’ career has been quite a ride of ups-and-downs, but his return to Featherweight has been promising. “Bruce Leeroy” has won two of his last three, with the sole loss coming via split-decision to the highly touted Yair Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Knight entered UFC via a short-notice loss but has since proven his worth. The 24-year-old has been a professional for eight years now — feel free to do that math on your own — and is definitely a fighter to watch moving forward.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Record: 12-9 (1)
Key Wins: Cole Miller (UFC 199), Sergio Pettis (UFC on FOX 10), Roland Delorme (UFC 165)
Key Losses: Yair Rodriguez (UFC Fight Night 92), Francisco Rivera (UFC Fight Night 68), Urijah Faber (UFC 175)
Keys to Victory: Caceres is an interesting fight with some contradictions to his game. He’s a creative kickboxer with great combinations, but he also forgets about his defense at times. Similarly, Caceres has shown some quality Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a generally tricky ground game, but he’s also been submitted five times.
Those aspects of his game make this bout very interesting, as Knight’s non-stop aggression could create a ton of openings for Caceres to counter or overwhelm his defenses. In short, someone is going to take a beating. To best ensure that it isn’t him on the wrong side of that equation, Caceres needs to maintain a lot of distance. Knight is primarily a boxer and does not have Caceres’ reach, meaning he’ll be forced to chase his opponent down. Knight was forced to chase in his last bout opposite Dan Hooker and ate a fair amount of strikes because of it.
Perhaps the biggest advantage Caceres’ holds here is conditioning. Knight pushes a pretty crazy pace, but he also slows down over time. If Caceres can make his punches miss and force Knight to shoot from too far out, it will slow him down even further, allowing Caceres to really take over.
Key Wins: Dan Hooker (UFC Fight Night 101), Jim Alers (UFC on FOX 20),
Key Losses: Tatsuya Kawajiri (TUF 22 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Knight is pretty much an aspiring Diaz brother. The jiu-jitsu fighter has secured nine of his wins via submission, but he also packs an aggressive boxing attack. Together, these attacks often keep his opponents on the defensive and allow Knight to finish or at least dominate.
Since neither man really focuses on defense, this fight could be very prone to momentum shifts as one man finds a home for a devastating blow or takedown. In Knight’s case, he would be wise to aim for Caceres’ chin, as he’s the more proven puncher. If Knight can rock Caceres early — a historic problem for “Bruce Leeroy” — he should be able to get into top position. Caceres may be a solid jiu-jitsu player, but that’s Knight’s area of expertise, so he should be able to control, damage and maybe even submit his foe from there.
If Caceres proves durable on the mat, aggression with punches and takedowns is a great way to stay ahead on the judges’ scorecards.
Bottom Line: This should be a solid scrap between Featherweights still looking for a break.
Caceres is one of those fighters who entered UFC very early in his career because of obvious potential, but he’s struggled to make the most of it. This current Featheweight run is perhaps the best he’s looked, as Caceres has survived some tough losses to emerge as a better fighter.
Regardless, Caceres needs this win if he’s to remain close to the top. Currently, he could put together two or three good wins and suddenly become a factor at 145 pounds, but that goes away with a defeat. As for Knight, it’s easy to forgive a short-notice defeat to a tough veteran like Kawajiri. Between his experience, age and skill set, it’s pretty obvious why some fans are so high on “The Kid.”
This bout has the potential to be the biggest win of Knight’s career, as Caceres is a proven veteran. It could even be enough to push him to a Top 15-ranked opponent. Alternatively, a loss keeps Knight firmly in the middle of the division, as he’ll have to put together another few wins to regain momentum.
At UFC on FOX 23, Alex Caceres and Jason Knight will open the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?