Brandon Moreno has taken the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight division by storm. And this Saturday (Aug. 5, 2017), he faces a man who was supposed to do the same thing a few years ago, Sergio Pettis, headlining UFC Fight Night 114, live from Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico.
In addition, another top Mexican prospect takes the stage in FOX Sports 1’s co-feature as Alexa Grasso throws down with Randa Markos, while Alan Jouban slugs it out with Niko Price one fight prior.
Those of you burned by a lack of FXX, fear not! UFC Fight Night 114’s top four “Prelims” undercard matches (check out the Fight Pass portion here) are on their usual home of FOX Sports 1.
185 lbs.: Brad Scott vs. Jack Hermansson
Brad Scott (11-4) has alternated wins and losses since falling to Robert Whittaker in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Smashes” final, fighting entirely in either England or Australia. His last fight saw him face countryman Scott Askham, whom he edged by split decision after injuring Askham’s leg.
“The Bear” has knocked out and submitted five opponents apiece.
Jack Hermansson (15-3) tore Askham up in his UFC debut to pick up some hype, only to fall to the resurgent Cezar “Mutante” in Nov. 2016. Returning to his home turf of Sweden, he pleased the local crowd with a ground-and-pound technical knockout of Alex Nicholson.
“The Joker” owns eight knockout wins and one via submission to strikes.
I’m still firmly on the Hermansson train. He’s got great footwork, legit power and showed a dangerous ground game against Nicholson. Scott, while gutsy and well-rounded, doesn’t appear to have answers for any of that.
Scott doesn’t have the fluidity or timing to shut down Hermansson the way Ferreira did. Without that, he’s at the mercy of Hermansson’s high-speed onslaught. “The Joker” scores his second consecutive finish midway through the second.
Prediction: Hermansson via second-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Dustin Ortiz vs. Hector Sandoval
Dustin Ortiz (16-7) — who opened his UFC career 3-0-1 with wins over prospects Jose Maria Tome, Ray Borg and Justin Scoggins — currently finds himself in a 1-3 slump. After scraping past the favored Zack Makovsky back in Dec. 2016, Ortiz took on headliner Brandon Moreno and, after eating a brutal head kick, suffered the first submission loss of his career.
Seven of his professional wins have come by (technical) knockout.
Hector Sandoval (14-3) jumped right into the deep end in his UFC debut, a late-notice fight with Wilson Reis that saw Sandoval submitted in 109 seconds. He has since bounced back with two straight wins, including a brutal knockout of TUF 24 alum Matt Schnell in April.
“Kid Alex” will give up three inches of height to the 5’5” Ortiz.
Sandoval’s speed, scrambling and overall athleticism are generally enough to compensate for his lack of size, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Ortiz is deceptively strong and can be vicious in transition, not to mention extremely difficult to finish. He can keep up with Sandoval on the ground and the feet, imposing his physicality to steadily deplete Sandoval’s explosiveness.
Ortiz might be a gatekeeper, but it’s still a gate Sandoval can’t cross. Ortiz spends enough time on top and does enough damage inside to take a narrow decision.
Prediction: Ortiz via split decision
145 lbs.: Enrique Briones vs. Rani Yahya
Enrique Briones (16-6-1) — a member of the inaugural TUF: “Latin America” cast — suffered arguably the season’s best knockout courtesy of a Marlon Vera upkick. “Henry Bure” went on to submit Guido Cannetti at UFC 180, but enters Saturday’s fight having lost two straight to Cody Garbrandt and Douglas Silva de Andrade.
He will have two inches each of height and reach on Saturday.
Rani Yahya (23-9) made his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) debut a full decade ago, but age didn’t stop him from going 7-1 (1 NC) from 2012 through 2016. The run finally hit its end in March, when he faded late against Joe Soto and ultimately lost the decision.
His 17 submission wins include four in WEC and three in UFC.
At this point, the major question of any Yahya fight is whether he’ll gas out before or after the middle of the second round. If he can’t get an early submission, the fight tends to end with a half-dead Yahya on the wrong end of an arguable 10-8. Luckily, Briones hasn’t shown himself to be the sort of grappling ace Masanori Kanehara, Michinori Tanaka and Joe Soto are. When Yahya inevitably hits an early takedown, I doubt “Henry Bure” makes it back up. The Brazilian veteran re-enters the win column with a quick submission.
Prediction: Yahya via first-round submission
135 lbs.: Jose Alberto Quinones vs. Diego Rivas
Jose Alberto Quinones (5-2) reached TUF: “Latin America” finals before falling to former victim Alejandro Perez, but bounced back with a quick submission of TUF: “Latin America” 2 runner-up Leonardo Morales in New Orleans. “El Teco” returned to action 15 months later in Hidalgo, where he survived a brutal knockdown to defeat Joey Gomez by decision.
This will be just his second fight in the last two years.
Diego Rivas (7-0) fell in the opening round of TUF: “Latin America,” missing out on the Finale but eventually joining UFC with a win over Rodolfo Perez the following February. Fifteen months later, he faced Israeli grappler Noad Lahat and — despite being on the wrong end of an arguable 10-8 first round — came back to knock him cold with a terrific flying knee.
Like Quinones, this will be just his second fight in nearly three years.
Honestly, Quinones has struck me as a solid prospect for a while. The inactivity bothers me, but he’s got solid hands and wrestling to back them up. “El Teco” is still just 27 and is training at a quality camp in Alliance MMA. Rivas, while solid on the feet, doesn’t have the takedown offense or defense to dictate the fight and will be on the wrong end of a power discrepancy. Quinones keeps him off-balance with regular takedowns before lowering the boom late in the first.
Prediction: Quinones via first-round technical knockout
Trust me, lots of these fights could turn out amazing. See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 114 card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record for 2017: 93-54 (1 NC)
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