Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight killers Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo will clash TONIGHT (June 8, 2019) at UFC 238 from inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
After a shaky start to his UFC career, Moraes found his stride. I don’t know exactly what changed or clicked for the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) kingpin, but Moraes’ level of competition for his previous three fights was extremely high, yet the Brazilian destroyed them all with ease.
Cejudo had a similar jump in ability, but his development came following his first failed title bid. After that fight, Cejudo’s kickboxing improved rapidly, as the Olympic wrestler adopted a karate stance and was far more accurate with his power punches and kicks. As a result, he now rides a pretty incredible win streak himself.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Raphael Assuncao (UFC Fight Night 144), Jimmie Rivera (UFC Fight Night 131), Aljamain Sterling (UFC Fight Night 123), John Dodson (UFC Fight Night 120), Josh Hill (WSOF 32, WSOF 18)
Key Losses: Raphael Assuncao (UFC 212)
Keys to Victory: Moraes is an extremely punishing kickboxer. There is definite craft to his striking approach, which is pretty well-suited for any match up, but Moraes definitely sets himself apart from the pack by kicking ridiculously fast with considerable knockout power.
The strategy for Moraes is very clear here. As Demetrious Johnson demonstrated, Cejudo’s wide stance leaves him vulnerable to low kicks. Fans may have forgotten since Moraes has been kicking everyone in the face as of late, but Moraes dominated the WSOF field by chewing up legs until foes could no longer walk.
One important distinction here is that Moraes would be wise to get Cejudo moving backward before chopping the leg. Otherwise, he could expose himself to a takedown. Even so, as the bigger man, Moraes’ defensive wrestling is likely to stand up well even to Cejudo’s credentials, and Moraes view any shot from Cejudo as an opportunity to land free strikes.
Key Wins: TJ Dillashaw (UFC on ESPN+ 1), Demetrious Johnson (UFC 227), Sergio Pettis (UFC 218), Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 78), Wilson Reis (UFC 215)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC 197), Joseph Benavidez (UFC TUF 24 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Since changing his striking style, Cejudo’s overall MMA game has improved dramatically. He kicks more often, counter punches well, and tends to time his takedowns with far better success — he’s simply a different fighter.
Opposite Moraes, it will be very interesting to see how Cejudo approaches the Brazilian, as Moraes is no Southpaw or switch-stance fighter like all of Cejudo’s recent foes. That adjustment will change a lot of Cejudo’s counter and kick options, unless he were to switch Southpaw himself.
There are a couple strategies Cejudo can apply either way. First and foremost, I’d like to see more of Cejudo’s body-head combinations in this match up, as that should help him close distance in a relatively safe manner. Second, Cejudo absolutely has to answer all low kicks with something. It doesn’t particularly matter whether Cejudo attempts to punch through the kick, answer with a kick of his own, or attempt to chain a takedown — Cejudo must make it clear there will be no free kicks.
Bottom Line: This is the best lighter weight fight available right now.
Moraes has looked every bit the part of a champion in his recent run. Composed, technical, and dangerous, he’s simply been a level above his competition, who were all opponents in the top five! He really seems primed to capture a title tonight, but he still has a very difficult task ahead of him in the Olympic gold medalist.
As great as Moraes’ recent string of finishes was, it still cannot top knocking Demetrious Johnson from his throne and flattening TJ Dillashaw consecutively. Cejudo has plenty of momentum behind him, and he stands a very good chance himself at becoming a double champ after warding off Dillashaw’s attempt.
Simply put, it’s a great fight with a title on the line between two fighters who have been at the top of their game.
At UFC 238, Marlon Moraes and Henry Cejudo will meet in the main event. Which man will leave strapped with gold?
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 238 fight card tomorrow night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the ESPN+ PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
For much more on UFC 238 click here.