While Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and the other top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight standouts try to sort themselves out, Rafael dos Anjos and Leon Edwards will make their claims for contendership inside AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, this weekend (Sat., July 20, 2019), headlining UFC’s fourth ESPN show. UFC on ESPN 4 will also see Greg Hardy duke it out with Juan Adams alongside two other Heavyweight bouts, as well as a pivotal Lightweight bout between James Vick and Dan Hooker.
Three UFC on ESPN 4 “Prelims” undercard bouts remain to be examined (check out the first batch here). Shall we?
145 lbs.: Alex Caceres vs. Steven Peterson
It’s been more than five years since Alex Caceres (14-12) choked out the surging Sergio Pettis to cap off a five-fight unbeaten streak, and “Bruce Leroy” is just 4-7 since. He was last seen welcoming Kron Gracie to the Octagon in February, tapping to the Brazilian jiu-jitsu great’s rear-naked choke two minutes into the first round.
He will have 3.5 inches of reach on “Ocho.”
Even though the gritty effort Steven Peterson (17-8) turned in against Benito Lopez on “Contender Series” didn’t result in victory, but did earn him a spot in the Octagon two fights later. He’s currently 1-2 in UFC with one “Fight of the Night” bonus to his credit and most recently dropped a decision to Luis Pena in March.
Eight of his 12 professional stoppage wins have come by submission.
On one hand, Caceres’ takedown defense is an Achilles’ heel he seems incapable of fixing. On the other, Peterson has nothing to offer besides pressure and wrestling that relies more on relentlessness than technique. Caceres’ long-range striking presents a quandary for “Ocho,” who has no means to close the distance besides just marching through it.
Peterson can definitely grind him out against the cage or from top position; however, I just don’t think he’s crafty enough to get himself into those positions consistently. Caceres potshots at range to take the decision.
Prediction: Caceres via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Raquel Pennington vs. Irene Aldana
Raquel Pennington (9-7) capped a four-fight win streak with an upset decision over Miesha Tate to earn herself a title shot against Amanda Nunes, only to succumb to ground-and-pound after 4.5 one-sided rounds. She returned six months later against Germaine de Randamie, who shut down the Coloradan’s wrestling to claim a wide decision victory.
She stands two inches shorter than Irene Aldana (10-4) at 5’7.”
Aldana got off to a rough start in the Octagon, losing a “Fight of the Night”-winning decision to Leslie Smith and a narrow split decision to Katlyn Chookagian five months later. She has since won three straight, including a comeback submission of Bethe Correia in Rio this past May.
All but one of her eight finishes have come in the first round.
Pennington at her best would be an issue for Aldana — the Mexican slugger doesn’t like pressure, even from technically inferior strikers. “Rocky’s” looked anything but her best against de Randamie, though, and the lingering effects of the Nunes beatdown remain a concern.
Aldana’s the better boxer of the two, and if Pennington can’t commit to powering through incoming fire to slow things down against the fence, she’s in for a long night. In short, Aldana rides her momentum and distance striking to victory.
Prediction: Aldana via unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Klidson Abreu
Sam Alvey (33-12) went 3-3 as a UFC Middleweight before making the move to 205 pounds, where he knocked out Marcin Prachnio and scraped past Gian Villante in his first two appearances. “Smilin’” has since suffered rough knockout losses to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Jimmy Crute, the former of whom was more than a 3:1 underdog.
He has dispatched 19 professional opponents via (technical) knockout, including five in the Octagon.
Klidson Abreu (14-3) — who boasts a submission win over Johnny Walker — brought a six-fight win streak into his late-notice Octagon debut, including wins over several European standouts. Top prospect Magomed Ankalaev proved too much for “Urso Branco,” though, claiming a decision in Prague.
The fight was Abreu’s first trip to the judges, as he has submitted 10 foes and knocked out another four.
Despite Abreu being a top prospect, Alvey can win this if he plays his cards right. The American’s takedown defense has historically been one of his strongest assets, and Abreu is definitely far less intimidating on the feet than on the mat. Thing is, Alvey is legendarily bad at playing his cards right, and even that fearsome power of his has been scarce lately.
Sure, he knocked out Prachnio, but Prachnio gave him that counter on a silver platter.
Abreu’s the stronger ground artist and should be able to at least hold his own against his infamously inactive foe on the feet. As a result, Alvey drops another frustrating decision.
Prediction: Abreu via unanimous decision
It’s free mixed martial arts (MMA) violence on ESPN and leaves your evening open for whatever other debauchery you have planned after hours. It all sounds like a bargain to me — see you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 4 fight card this weekend, starting with the ESPN “Prelims” that are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the main card portion that will also air on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC on ESPN 4: “dos Anjos vs. Edwards” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.