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UFC Fight Night: Rivera vs Moraes - Jun 1


wandshogun09
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Friday 1st June in Utica, New York.

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FOX SPORTS 1 MAIN CARD
Jimmie Rivera vs Marlon Moraes 

Gregor Gillespie vs Vinc Pichel 

Walt Harris vs Daniel Spitz

Jake Ellenberger vs Ben Saunders 

Daniel Teymur vs Julio Arce

Gian Villante vs Sam Alvey 

 

FOX SPORTS 1 PRELIMS
Sijara Eubanks vs Lauren Murphy 

Nik Lentz vs David Teymur 

Belal Muhammad vs Chance Rencountre

Gleison Tibau vs Desmond Green

 

FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Jessica Aguilar vs Jodie Esquibel

Johnny Eduardo vs Nathaniel Wood

Jarred Brooks vs Jose Torres 

 

 

Man, the UFC are loving these New York shows now, aren't they? Talk about making up for lost time. Seems like they're back in NY every other show lately. This one looks pretty good too. Not the deepest of lineups but there's some good shit there. 

 

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Jimmie Rivera vs Marlon Moraes headlines. Really pleased they're giving these two the platform and spotlight of a UFC main event. And of course that also means this gets the 5 round treatment as well, which only makes it better. These are two of the most promising yet strangely underhyped prospects in the bantamweight division.

Rivera is 28 years old with a 21-1 record. He hasn't been that active lately really, only fighting once in 2017, which could explain why he's kind of being going under the radar but he's an excellent fighter. His only loss to date is a split decision in just his second pro fight way back in 2008. So nearly a decade unbeaten and he's on a 20 fight winning streak. And it's not like he's been being fed bums either. He beat Thomas Almeida in a brilliant fight last year. Before that he had UFC wins over Urijah Faber, Iuri Alcantara and Pedro Munhoz. The only knock on him might be that he's been a bit of a decision merchant ( he only has 6 finishes out of 22 fights) but it's not like he's boring. He has exciting fights and he gets results. Moraes is 29 years old, Brazilian, a BJJ black-belt under Ricardo Almeida. He's got a 20-5-1 record, was the WSOF champ and never lost that belt. His losses were mostly early on in his career. Since late 2011 he's gone 15-1, with the only defeat being a split decision to Raphael Assuncao in his UFC debut. He has wins over Miguel Torres, Tyson Nam, John Dodson and in his last fight he viciously KO'd Aljamain Sterling with a knee in about a minute. 

You can't go wrong with this fight. Great piece of matchmaking. Rivera is a New Yorker so he'll have the crowd on his side but skill for skill, I'm finding it hard to split these two. With their overall records and the 135 title picture needing fresh blood outside the old TJ/Cody/Cruz hate triangle, the winner of this fight puts themself in a fantastic position to get in that mix. 

 

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Gregor Gillespie vs Vinc Pichel will no doubt be an entertaining fight. In just the two or three fights I've seen of Gillespie's so far, he's already made a fan out of me. Such an exciting fighter. He's 11-0 with 9 finishes. He's a NCAA Div I wrestler but he certainly doesn't shy away from throwing hands or going for submissions. He had one of my legit favourite fights of 2017 against Jason Gonzalez, won by submission. Then followed that up with a first round TKO over Jordan Rinaldi on Big FOX in January. On top of all that, he can talk his arse off and is really likeable. He's the New York hometown boy as well so the crowd will be hot for this. Pichel isn't an easy fight by any stretch though. He's 11-1 with the only L coming against Rustam Khabilov, back when Khabilov was beasting it. Make no mistake though, I'm fully rooting for Gillespie. Pichel needs a smack for that fuck awful nickname as well. Vinc 'From Hell' Pichel. Urgh. 


 

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Gian Villante vs Sam Alvey is kind of just there. Neither of these guys are going anywhere but it should be anything but dull. Both guys are known to be heavy handed and neither is exactly known for their defence. A recipe for a KO if ever I've seen one. Hope Villante wins. He's the hometown fighter, a Serra-Longo guy and seems a good dude. That plus I can't really take to Alvey. The whole Smilin' Sam thing seems a bit forced to me. 

 

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Nik Lentz vs Leonardo Santos might be worth a look. Could be a great fight if it's mostly grappling as that's these guys' bread and butter. I like watching Lentz. He's got a nice blend of wrestling mixed with BJJ to his ground game. But if he has to sling fists he's more than happy to do that, can take a dig as well. This will be his 40th fight and he just submitted Will Brooks and sent him packing. Santos is no joke though. Especially in the grappling. He's a 4th degree black-belt in BJJ. He's 16-3-1 in MMA and hasn't lost in 9 years. Made his debut against Takanori Gomi of all people, back in 2002 for Shooto. And actually took Gomi to a majority decision. In the UFC he was the TUF Brazil Season 2 winner in 2013. He's beat Adriano Martins, Efrain Escudero and he also holds a first round TKO over Kevin Lee. He's 38 years old but still seems to be going strong. 

 

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Johnny Eduardo vs Nathaniel Wood is ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH*** for this. Wood's UFC debut, and a very tough one at that. He's from London, 13-3 record and is the Cage Warriors bantamweight champion. He's finished his last 5 fights, the last 3 in the first round, and his most recent outing lasted just 50 seconds. His nickname is 'The Prospect' and for good reason. He's looked tremendous recently on the UK scene and has been saying he was 'destined' to fight in the UFC. Well, here we are. Like I said, real hard debut for him. Eduardo is 37 years old but he's far from a shot old fighter. He's not a world beater but he's certainly a significant step up from the guys Wood's been in with. This will be Eduardo's 40th MMA fight. He's fought everywhere from the UFC to Bellator to Shooto to proper old school promotions like Vale Tudo Japan and Brazil's bare knuckle IVC which spawned Wanderlei Silva. In the UFC he's beat Manny Gamburyan, Eddie Wineland and Jeff Curran. Record stands at 28-11. He's a journeyman but he's a tricky crafty vet and, factoring in potential 'Octagon jitters' for Wood, Eduardo is definitely a possible banana skin. Really interested to see how this goes. 

 

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Jake Ellenberger vs Ben Saunders, a bit like Villante-Alvey above, is a fight between two guys who are basically just treading water at this stage in the game. I've always been a fan of Saunders. His combination of Muay Thai, the brutal Thai clinch and a really attacking guard makes his so much fun to watch. But he's floundering these days. He's been stopped in his last two fights and of his 9 losses, he was KO'd or TKO'd in 6 of them. Not good. Ellenberger is on his arse even more. He's gone 3-7 in his last 10! He hasn't been seen since Mike Perry knocked him out cold with a big elbow last April. I'm a bit uneasy about this fight, to be honest. Just feels like these two are just fucking themselves up further with each fight. 

 

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Niko Price vs Belal Muhammad is a good fight between two prelimers I've really enjoyed watching over the last couple of years. Price is 11-1-1. His biggest UFC win to date was his first round TKO over Alan Jouban. He also has submission wins in the UFC over Brandon Thatch and George Sullivan. I like his style. And Muhammad is granite. 13-2 and coming off 3 strong wins over Tim Means, Jordan Mein and Randy Brown. He first caught my attention with his war with Jouban back in 2016. I hope this fight ends up televised because I reckon it's got a good shot at FOTN. 

 

So a solid enough card there. The main event, Gillespie's fight and Nathaniel Wood's debut are the highlights for me but the card as a whole is pretty strong. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Yeh, really like top 2 fights here. Its nice to see fresh headliners and a guy like Gregor Gillespie get high billing after quietly making an impression on the undercard. Id take these all day over some of the nostalgia act fights that have headlined shows in the past.

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I’m a bit out of the loop these days - Is Ben Saunders any good? I remember watching him absolutely destroy someone a few years ago with knees and his name has always stayed with me. I can’t remember when or who it was against, but I remember the crowd was full of soldiers from the American army. Decent little show from what I remember. 

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@waters44 Fuck, that's going back a good decade. Pretty certain you're thinking of Saunders' fight with Brandon Wolff which was on the first Tribute To The Troops show back in 2008. 

He absolutely destroyed poor Brandon Wolff with knees from the Thai clinch and left the poor bugger looking like this...

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Oh and unfortunately Saunders has become a bit of a journeyman. He had a decent run in Bellator a few years ago but got KO'd badly by Lima a couple of times and he's slowing down now. His current record is 21-9-2, he's been stopped in his last 2 fights and he's lost 3 of his last 5. At 35 years old and having been knocked out a bunch of times, it's not looking good really, especially in a division as stacked as welterweight. Always liked him though. I like his style and he's always on the attack. One of the most active and aggressive guards in the game as well. He's nasty off his back with elbows and submissions. He's just found his level as a midcard journeyman sadly. Shame as he looked to have real potential coming off TUF 6. 

Edited by wandshogun09
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Fucking hell, Marlon Moraes! I saw the main event as a bit of a tossup going in. Never expected a 30-odd second stoppage. Huge statement made by Moraes there. Rivera was on a 20 fight streak and beat some good names. I'd actually give him the next title shot off that. Love to see him fight the winner of TJ vs Cody 2 on one of the end of the year shows. 

Rest was a right mixed bag. Gillespie rolls on, although it wasn't his most exciting performance. Still unbeaten though and still racking up finishes. Great to see Ben Saunders get the win. Ellenberger's probably gone after that. 

Apart from those, I didn't enjoy much of the rest. The FS1 prelims weren't the best. The Fight Pass prelims were much better. Nathaniel Wood had a good showing in his debut. And the finish of the Torres vs Brooks fight was nuts.

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Last week’s Bellator and UFC shows partly reignited my interest in MMA. Unfortunately though, this long, mostly dull show filled with guys I don’t care about reminded me why I gave up.

However, I did like that guy getting knocked out by giving himself a Canadian Destroyer. That was awesome.

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What a hell of a finish there by Moraes. I didn't expect an early win by either fighter in this one. Most definitely I would go with Moraes against for the next title shot after Cody/TJ is finished. 

I think Gillespie has something. He looked good here again, that's three times in a row. I can see him giving some of the guys at the lower end of the top 15 problems right now, and he'll get better as well. I like him. 

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The commentators kept banging on about Moraes having this big size edge over Rivera and talking about his height and reach advantage. Then the Tale Of The Tape pops up and shows Rivera actually had an inch and a half more reach. 

It was a mostly shit show. If it wasn't for the main event there'd be almost zero talking points coming out of this. Still, we've got an incredible June and July coming up with a stacked 225 and 226 plus Israel Adesanya's next fight, JDS vs Ivanov, Shogun vs Volkan and the big FOX show with Alvarez vs Poirier 2, Aldo vs Stephens and Joanna vs Torres. Plenty to look forward to. 

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I know it doesn’t really mean anything, and he’d be a disgrace if he hadn’t improved in the two years since his last fight, but CM Punk’s pad work looked far better in that promo for his fight. He continues to have insane bags under his eyes though. Why does he always look like shit??

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