This weekend (Sat., May 13, 2023), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels to the Spectrum Center in North Carolina for UFC Charlotte. Back on ABC for the first time in several months, Heavyweights will headline the four-fight main card, as knockout artist Jairzinho Rozenstruik will put his ranking on the line opposite rising submission ace, Jailton Almeida. Earlier this week, one of the scheduled main card fights was rebooked as a future main event, so we only had a couple match ups to analyze this week.
Let’s dig in and take a closer look at the pair of matches that lead up the to the main- and co-main event:
Welterweight: Daniel Rodriguez vs. Ian Garry
Best Win for Rodriguez? Mike Perry For Garry? Song Kenan
Current Streak: Rodriguez lost his last bout, whereas Garry has won four straight in the UFC to build his pro record to 11-0
X-Factor: This is a considerable step up in competition for Garry
How these two match up: It’s time to find out if “The Future” is now.
Rodriguez is a crafty Southpaw kickboxer with solid takedown defense. He’s more skilled on his feet than he gets credit for, but even so, Rodriguez’s best attributes in a scrap are probably his durability and power. At 25 years of age, Garry looks like an eventual contender. A former Cage Warriors champion, the Irish striker has stopped six of his opponents via knockout, and he’s shown off some punishing accuracy thus far in his young career.
Like many undefeated young knockout artists, Garry’s kickboxing offense has developed more quickly than his defense. He’s been cracked quite a few times in his short UFC career, sometimes because he’s willing to trust his distance a bit too much, and other times because he’s really standing his ground and hunting for counter opportunities.
Either way, that seems like a problem against “D-Rod,” who is plenty comfortable walking through fire if necessary. Both men have the power to hurt the other, so in a fight where chaos is likely, I’ll trust the more proven brawler who’s closer to the prime of his career.
Prediction: Rodriguez via decision
Welterweight: Alex Morono vs. Tim Means
Best Win for Morono? Donald Cerrone For Means? Thiago Alves
Current Streak: Morono lost his last bout, whereas Means has lost two straight
X-Factor: Morono suffered a bad knockout last time out
How these two match up: This should be a great scrap between Welterweight veterans.
Morono was known early in his UFC career for his grappling skills, but more and more, he’s refined his stand up game. That’s now his primary path to victory, as Morono is an efficient distance striker with unorthodox movement and surprising power.
Conversely, Means has always been a rangy and high-volume striker. He’s got a lot of tricks to his kickboxing, including some gnarly close range elbows that have helped him score 19 wins via knockout. At 39 years of age, however, it’s not clear how much “The Dirty Bird” has left in the tank.
This is a fight where momentum matters more to me than the technical match up. On paper, Means is the “better” striker. He’s knocked out more people and put on sharper kickboxing performances. Yet, it feels like he’s slowing down, and that his best years are behind him — not a shock given his age.
Morono, conversely, had won four straight fights and was beating up Santiago Ponzinibbio prior to the last-second knockout. He’s flowing like never before, landing shots and making his opponents miss more than at any point prior in his career. He’s seven years younger than Means, and it still feels like he’s improving rather than regressing.
At some point, Morono is going to land a shot that hurts Means and shifts the momentum into his corner.
Prediction: Morono via decision
‘X-Factor’ Picks for 2023: 11-11-1 (1)
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Charlotte fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ABC/ESPN+ at 3 p.m. ET.
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