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UFC Busan - New Blood: The final contender

Tyson Fury v Sefer Seferi - Heavyweight Fight Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

The final Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) card of 2019 hits Sajik Arena in Busan, South Korea, this Saturday morning (Dec. 21, 2019). And while it’s understandably filled mostly with Asian talent, there’s a Latin American newcomer set to make his debut. On this edition of “New Blood,” the series where I find out just how busted Fight Pass is, we look at an undefeated Henri Hooft-trained bruiser from Venezuela.

Omar Morales

Weight Class: Lightweight
Age: 34
Record: 8-0 (2 KO, 4 SUB)
Notable Victories: Troy Nawrocki, Harvey Park

Morales spent most of his career feasting on subpar opposition in his native Venezuela before scoring a brutal sub-minute knockout in his Bellator debut. Almost exactly one year later, he stepped into a “Contender Series” main event opposite LFA champion Harvey Park. Though the underdog, Morales badly hurt Park with low kicks to set up a fight-ending right hand early in the second round and earn himself a contract.

Though submissions feature most prominently on his finishing record, Morales’ mobile striking is his star attraction. The guy kicks like a mule, boasting exceptional speed and power in his right low kick and switch high kick especially. It didn’t take many hits at all to completely compromise Park’s lead leg, leaving him wide open for Morales’ right hand, and the Bellator knockout came courtesy of catching his opponent leaning with a head kick.

His boxing, though powerful, doesn’t appear to be quite as crisp as his kicking game. He’s prone to planting his feet and throwing heat when pressured, looping his powerful right instead of ramming it straight down the pipe. In addition, besides backing straight up, he looks vulnerable to getting caught on the break or when exchanging; Park blasted him with two massive hooks as they separated. His chin held up exceptionally well, though, so he’s got that going for him.

What stood out besides his kicks was his defensive clinch work. He did an excellent job of pummeling for underhooks against Park, shutting down the LFA champ’s wrestling game and getting back into kicking range. As a result, we didn’t get to see any of his ground game, but I suppose the best submission defense is never letting your opponent even get in a position to submit you.

Morales is old for a prospect at 34, but has a solid camp behind him at Hard Knocks 365 and showed a lot of promise against a legit fighter in Harvey Park. Though he might not have time to make a real run, he’s liable to get a couple of nice UFC wins.

Opponent: Dong Hyun Ma has given us some terrific brawls during his UFC tenure, but he took serious damage in his last two fights. His outlook doesn’t look great against yet another hard-hitting slugger, especially not one with technically superior striking. Expect Morales to start his UFC tenure on the right foot.

Tape: His “Contender Series” appearance is on ESPN+. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 165 fight card on Saturday (CLICK HERE), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 2 a.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 5 a.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Fight Night 165: “Edgar vs. Korean Zombie” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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