Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight veterans Alex Caceres and Daniel Pineda will go to war this weekend (Sat., June 3, 2023) inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
A return to Featherweight alongside the culmination of more than one decade of high-level experience has proven a great combination for 34-year-old Caceres, who’s been fighting quite well lately. Winner of six of his last seven bouts, Caceres is unlikely to go on a sudden title run, but he’s still managed to carve out a hard-earned spot in the Top 15. Pineda, meanwhile, doesn’t quite have the same volume of UFC experience as his opponent, but the 37-year-old Texan has been fighting since 2007 against tough opposition around the globe. Even at this stage of his career, he’s a remarkable finisher, having stopped each and every one of his 28 professional wins without the judges’ assistance.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Record: 20-13 (1)
Key Wins: Julian Erosa (UFC Vegas 66), Cole Miller (UFC 199), Sergio Pettis (UFC on FOX 10), Chase Hooper (UFC 250)
Key Losses: Yair Rodriguez (UFC Fight Night 92), Sodiq Yusuff (UFC Vegas 50), Jason Knight (UFC on FOX 23), Urijah Faber (UFC 175)
Keys to Victory: Caceres has always been a high-volume kickboxer, but the historically knock against “Bruce Leeroy” has been that he doesn’t hurt opponents. That seems to have changed a bit in recent years, and Caceres’ grappling remains an underrated threat too.
In this bout, Caceres should look to Andre Fili for inspiration. Though Fili’s bout with Pineda technically ended in a “No Contest” due to eye poke, Fili was really brutalizing Pineda with classic Southpaw kicking techniques. By ripping his left kick to the liver and head, Fili took apart Pineda without giving him access to his favorite calf kick or cross counter. He also nearly finished Pineda with the Southpaw cross-same side high kick combo, the exact setup Caceres just used to flatten Julian Erosa.
Blasting kicks from Southpaw is a great idea generally. In this case, Caceres should also be looking to extend the bout. Pineda tends to start really fast and hunt for the finish quickly, but that momentum wears off. As the fight wears on, Caceres has the more consistent style and should be able to continually find better success.
Record: 28-14 (3)
Key Wins: Tucker Lutz (UFC San Antonio), Herbert Burns (UFC 252), Justin Lawrence (TUF 17 Finale), Johnny Bedford (SWC 3)
Key Losses: Cub Swanson (UFC 256), Georgi Karakhanyan (Bellator 182), Emmanuel Sanchez (Bellator 149), Mike Brown (UFC 146)
Keys to Victory: Pineda is a nasty offensive fighter. He’s got a tremendously mean overhand and brutal calf kick, and he’s plenty willing to get in his opponent’s face and try to force exchanges from the first bell. With 19 wins via tapout, he’s no slouch on the canvas either.
How does Pineda finish opponents so consistently? It doesn’t just come down to aggression or punching power. In fact, “The Pit” has a pretty unique gift for disregarding the feeling out process. From the very first bell, he’s firing accurate, powerful punches and trying to take his opponent’s head off. It catches a lot of opponents off-guard, as most high-level fighters are accustomed to settling into the fight and picking up reads before throwing down.
Obviously, taking Caceres’ head off in the first trade would be ideal, and it’s certainly possible given Pineda’s power advantage. There are, however, two big adjustments to be made here. Firstly, Pineda has to throw in combination, which will help him deal with Caceres’ height and use of distance as defense. Secondly, Pineda has to do a better job of blocking kicks and immediately firing back, lest he get battered at range as explained above.
This is a fan-friendly duel with a Top 15 ranking on the line.
Caceres has never quite broken into title contention, but he’s always been a quality member of his division of choice. He puts on fun fights, and he stands out from the crowd. Despite his recent resurgence, his loss at the hands of Sodiq Yusuff a couple bouts ago limits his ability to climb up the ladder.
In short, he’s unlikely to rise or fall spectacularly based on this fight.
As for Pineda, maybe he can steal Caceres’ No. 15 spot with a win? There are other unranked Featherweights with longer win streaks than Pineda, but perhaps that win alone would be enough for a swap. Regardless, Pineda is not likely to go on a sudden title run either, so scrapping it around the Top 15-30 range seems to be his future as well.
At UFC Vegas 74, Alex Caceres an Daniel Pineda will throw down in the co-main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 74 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 74: “Kara-France vs. Albazi” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
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