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UFC Fight Night 114 preview, quick picks for ‘Pettis vs Moreno’

UFC Media Day - Sergio & Anthony Pettis Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back on television this weekend (Sat., Aug. 5, 2017) with the UFC Fight Night 114 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX Sports 1, which features a flyweight main event between Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno, who battle for a spot in the 125-pound title chase.

In the UFC Fight Night 114 co-main event, held inside Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Mexico, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 standout Randa Markos looks to cement her place among the 115-pound contenders by turning away the rough-and-tumble Alexa Grasso.

Are you not entertained?

Before we take a closer look at the six-fight main card, check out the preliminary card preview and predictions by clicking here and here. UFC Mexico odds and betting lines for “Pettis vs. Moreno” can be found here.

Now then, on with the show.

125 lbs.: Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis (15-2) vs. Brandon “The Assassin Baby” Moreno (14-3)

Nostradumbass predicts: Flyweight main events are a tough sell these days and flyweight main events with no title on the line are even tougher, so Sergio Pettis and Brandon Moreno have their work cut out for them tomorrow night in Mexico.

Cries that our headlining act is a travesty are unwarranted when you consider ghosts of main events past, like the cobbled together feature fight for UFC Fight Night 43, where Nate Marquardt and James Te Hunt took center stage with a combined 0-4 record in their previous four fights — all of them finishes.

And both Pettis and Moreno are just 23 years old and sport a combined record of 29-5.

Not too shabby.

What hurt Pettis early in his career was his last name. Debuting when older brother Anthony was king of the lightweight mountain, Sergio was upended in his sophomore effort and immediately relegated to can status, because this is MMA and you have to win every single fight or you’re exposed/washed up/overrated.

Since getting subbed by Alex Caceres in early 2014, Pettis is 5-1 and the winner of three straight. The only knock on that win streak is his lack of stoppages, going before the judges all five times. Like his sibling, Pettis is a potent striker with sneaky submissions, but lacks the aggression to effectuate finishes.

That stands in stark contrast to Moreno, who is the winner of 11 straight with eight finishes, seven of them submissions. To give you some perspective on what “The Assassin Baby” is capable of, he tapped both Louis Smolka and Dustin Ortiz.

Not only are they both ranked in the top 15 and very, very, tough, neither Smolka nor Ortiz had been submitted in the professional careers prior to running into Moreno, a span of 32 (combined) fights.

Pettis is a complete fighter who claims to have shed himself of the timidity that plagued him in earlier contests. While he’s capable of holding his own both on the feet and on the ground, Moreno — with the crowd behind him — will apply an insane amount of pressure and disrupt his rhythm, make him uncomfortable, and force Pettis into unconditional surrender.

Final prediction: Moreno def. Pettis by submission

115 lbs.: Alexa Grasso (9-1) vs. Randa “Quiet Storm” Markos (7-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: Randa Markos entered The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 as unheralded filler; meaning, she was a warm body needed to round out an anemic strawweight roster as the promotion slowly began building the division around a handful of Invicta FC imports.

I guess “Quiet Storm” didn’t get the memo.

Markos upset the apple cart by eliminating both Tecia Torres and Felice Herrig, but then came up short in her semifinal bout against Rose Namajunas, then again in the live finale opposite Jessica Penne.

She has not won consecutive fights in nearly four years across eight appearances.

Part of her success comes from her grit and she carries a serviceable submission game, but Markos is by no means a good striker. Grasso, on the other hand, has four knockouts in nine wins, which doesn’t sound overly impressive until you realize that’s as many knockouts as division champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and more than former division No. 1 contenders Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Claudia Gadelha combined.

The Guadalajara native, not surprisingly, will be the hometown favorite.

Grasso suffered the first loss of her pro career when she came up short against the aforementioned Herrig earlier this year. MMA math tells us that Markos beat Herrig and Herrig beat Grasso, but I think gameplan was more of the issue and “Lil’ Bulldog” used her experience to manipulate her overzealous foe.

Markos will have no such luck.

This is not an easy fight and Grasso will have to avoid long clinches or suffocating tie ups. She only needs to win two of the three rounds and her volume is usually enough to cruise to the cards, so long as she’s able to keep Markos backing up and befuddled and in turn, herself from being taken down.

Final prediction: Grasso def. Markos by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Alan “Brahma” Jouban (15-5) vs. Niko “The Hybrid” Price (10-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: Full-time welterweight and part-time model Alan Jouban is one of the few fighters outside of Yoshihiro Akiyama who can win an MMA fight simply by being more handsome than his opponent.

“Brahma” loves to bang, which works out perfectly, because so does opponent Niko Price. Unfortunately for “The Hybrid,” his recent knockout win over Alex Morono went up in smoke — literally -- due to a failed drug test.

No matter.

This is going to be a bangfest and while Price has shown promise, we need to take that 10-0 record with a grain of salt. Of his first six opponents — like the 1-6 Alejandro Gomez — none of them have winning records and stand at a combined 12-24.

Jouban crushed his share of cans but he’s been fighting better competition for much longer, and I believe his heart will make the difference on fight night, three-inch reach disadvantage be damned.

Final prediction: Jouban def. Price by technical knockout

145 lbs.: Humberto Bandenay (13-4, 1 NC) vs. Martin “Toro” Bravo (11-0)

Nostradumbass predicts: Martin Bravo is one of the top prospects coming out of Mexico and no doubt will be looking to build on his UFC debut, a violent, second-round shellacking over Claudio Puelles last November.

“Toro” has nine finishes in 11 wins.

Humberto Bandenay, a year younger than Bravo at just 22, seems to have finally hit his stride after some inconsistency from 2015-16, racking up five straight wins with five brutal finishes.

Both fighters boast an equal blend of knockouts and submissions and cardio is typically not an issue in the lighter weight classes, but at this stage of their respective careers, it’s hard to overlook the sizable disadvantage Bravo has in both height and reach.

Final prediction: Bandenay def. Bravo by technical knockout

185 lbs.: “Smile’N” Sam Alvey (30-9, 1 NC) vs. “Suga’” Rashad Evans (19-6-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Rashad Evans has headlined 13 UFC events across his hall-of-fame career and at one point, was the main event in nine straight appearances. That’s a staggering number and a testament to his accomplishments in MMA.

How the mighty have fallen.

These days, “Suga” is buried on the main card of a FOX Sports 1 event in Mexico, thanks in part to his three straight losses and countless injury setbacks. Soon to be 38, the attributes that made him so deadly — speed, power, athleticism — feel like distant memories.

The recent loss to 39-year-old Daniel Kelly especially hurts.

Sam Alvey is a prolific power puncher and not much else, though he quietly put together a four-fight win streak against ho-hum competition between July 2016 and January 2017. He hasn’t been around as long as Evans, but he’s certainly been busier, though I have to imagine if “Smile’N” was going to do anything special, he probably would have done it by now.

The question is not whether or not he’s now good enough to beat Evans, it’s whether or not Evans is now bad enough to lose to Alvey. “Suga’” is not as sweet as he used to be, but after departing the 205-pound division, he likely needed the Kelly fight to find his middleweight sea legs.

Unless Evans is completely shot, struggles to make weight, or simply leaves his chin up, I can’t imagine he’s fallen that far off that he doesn’t wallop Alvey in the same way he did Chael Sonnen back in late 2013.

Final prediction: Evans def. Alvey by technical knockout

135 lbs.: Alejandro “El Diablito” Perez (17-6-1) vs. Andre “Asian Sensation” Soukhamthath (11-4)

Nostradumbass predicts: After spending most of his career fighting for CES MMA, the same promotion that gave Dave Bautista (Drax) his one and only MMA fight, Andre Soukhamthath graduated to UFC.

Where he promptly dropped a split decision to Albert Morales at UFC 209.

“The Asian Sensation” hasn’t really done anything sensational throughout his career, but is a competent striker who’s not completely lost on his feet. That’s not designed to be backhanded praise, but this is a FOX Sports 1 curtain jerker and you get what you’re advertised.

Alejandro Perez is now five fights into his UFC career and remains unranked at 135 pounds, which should give you a pretty good indication of where he’s at in terms of getting noticed. Like “Asian Sensation,” his nickname is more inspiring than his performances, though I won’t downplay his impressive stoppage over Ian Entwistle.

This may actually turn out to be one of the better fights on the card. Both Soukhamthath and Perez are prolific finishers and the way the bantamweight division has opened up in recent months, there’s room for new blood in the top 10. Expect a wild fight that ends with an even wilder finish.

Final prediction: Soukhamthath def. Perez by technical knockout

There you have it. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 114 fight card on fight night (click here), 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 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

For much more on UFC Fight Night 114 in Mexico City click here.

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