UFC on Fuel 6: Questions We Have About Alex Caceres
Ever since he first appeared on The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, Alex Caceres has drawn more attention than the usual MMA fighter.
Part of that is his afro and perpetual grin, two rarities among a legion of bald-headed, bearded, tattooed mean muggers.
Another part of that is his adopted "Bruce Leeroy" persona—taken from the cult classic 1985 film The Last Dragon—complete with the trademark Bruce Lee-style yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death.
But Caceres' disappointing 7-5 UFC record has us asking a few questions, most of which will hopefully be answered this weekend at UFC on Fuel 6 in Macau, China.
How Will Caceres Adjust to His Replacement Opponent?
Caceres may be at a huge disadvantage going into his fight with last-minute opponent Motonobu Tezuka.
Not only is Tezuka the most experienced opponent that Caceres has faced, but he's also a strong wrestler with evolving submission defense. Considering that the submission game of "Leeroy" is largely predicated on catching opponents off guard, that's a problem.
Moreover, this matchup was made just a week out from the card.
That means Caceres has had pretty much no time to train for the switch in opposition, and will most likely have to make up a game plan on the spot.
Has His Submission Offense Improved at All?
Although the former lightweight fighter has the benefit of a tall, lanky frame with long limbs, the frustrating thing about Caceres is that he's not good at trapping opponents with good Jiu-Jitsu defense. That much was apparent during his TUF showdown with eventual winner Michael Johnson, as well as his 2011 match with Jimmy Hettes.
Caceres is largely content to be taken down if he feels he can trap opponents in armbars or triangle chokes. But, he would be much more effective if he could force submissions instead of letting opponents like Damacio Page fall right into them.
Will His Gas Tank Continue to Be a Factor?
The fact that four of Alex Caceres' five losses came by submission is largely due to his gas tank as much as his reckless fighting style.
Unfortunately for him, Motonobu Tezuka is a high-paced grinder with plenty of cardio to go around.
One of the most likely ways that Caceres could lose his fight is by simply exhausting himself fending off a sustained wrestling attack while getting swarmed on the ground.
If that happens, it won't be a shock to see him lose by a surprise submission or a competitive decision.
Has Getting Dropped From the Main Card Affected Him Mentally?
UFC on Fuel TV 6 would've been the first time that Caceres had fought on a UFC main card. But after original South Korean opponent Kyung Ho Kang turned up injured, Caceres was dropped to the Facebook preliminaries.
That's got to be disappointing for the young bantamweight, who has toiled in the prelims in every single one of his UFC appearances—four out of five being free TV events.
So, will the sting of getting dropped from his first main card fight affect him mentally?
That remains to be seen, although Caceres hopefully understands that Takeya Mizugaki is a far bigger star. If anything, this may drive "Leeroy" to put on an amazing performance.
How Will His Bruce Leeroy Persona Be Embraced in China?
During a recent interview with Fight Cove, Caceres noted that his "Bruce Leeroy" persona might be out of place in Macau, China.
That's putting it lightly.
Not only is Caceres a cocky foreigner fighting in a large international event, but Bruce Lee is respected on a level higher than most religious figures.
Given that much of the Chinese fanbase most likely doesn't know about The Last Dragon or Caceres' history on TUF, it's easy to consider that his gimmick may be misconstrued as a joke—or at the very worst, a racist gimmick.
So, does Caceres walk out to the Octagon this weekend as "Bruce Leeroy," complete with his yellow jumpsuit, cocky grin, and hokey Kung Fu pantomime routine?
Or will the TUF alumnus take the safe route and just make a statement as plain Alex Caceres?