The UFC is unrelenting in its 2016 schedule, and Salt Lake City is next on the list.
The main event for this Saturday's Fight Night 92 features talented featherweights Alex Caceres and Yair Rodriguez. Caceres has always had a big personality, but after back-to-back victories, he can now turn that into a big featherweight push with a third straight.
Rodriguez will have other ideas. The youngster is quickly rising up the ranks in the division with a flair for the dramatic.
How does this matchup shake out? Largely in favor of Rodriguez, but even still we will look at areas where Caceres can compete in an upset bid. This is your look at Saturday's featherweight showdown. Let's break the matchup down from head to toe.
When the fight is on the feet, it will be at its most competitive. Bruce Leeroy truly doesn't get the credit he deserves for his striking and the strides he has made with his skills in recent fights. If you look solely at the FightMetric statistics for this matchup, you may conclude that Caceres has a small edge.
That's a credit to his skills. Caceres has good output with his strikes and has been utilizing his reach well. That will be a key in this fight. Yet after all that, I will still give the edge to Rodriguez.
He offers substance along with his style, and he has fight-ending power added along with his strikes. Caceres would be more more apt to overwhelm his opponents with volume, whereas Rodriguez can end it with one shot. A stark contrast and big plus for Rodriguez.
Caceres is also slightly more hittable than Rodriguez. Caceres allows fighters to get inside his range, and those bits of defensive lapse could leave him lying flat on the canvas.
Grappling and Submissions
Typically these two categories are separated, but considering the one-sided nature, they will be lumped together.
Rodriguez has a decided edge should the fight go to the mat. Caceres is more than capable on the mat with his long limbs, but it's not his strongest suit. Also, his defense isn't top-notch. He has been stopped three times in the Octagon by way of submission.
Rodriguez is more active with his offensive grappling. Against Caceres, Rodriguez may play the grappling game a bit more. It's a safer play over five rounds. He'll have to be patient with Caceres' active guard, but his top game should be strong enough to stifle any submission attempts.
The X-Factor in this fight is the same for both men. It is almost a given at this juncture that Rodriguez is immensely creative with his strikes. He goes for high-risk strikes, for which he is often rewarded. However, the risk part is important to remember.
Caceres will also need to be creative in his own right. He cannot be one-dimensional, and he will have to prepare to combat Rodriguez's wild style.
The two featherweights' creativity should make this a fight to remember.
It's no surprise I am siding with Rodriguez. I have given him the edge in every category, and he is just the more skilled fighter.
Rodriguez will enter as a 10/27 favorite, according to Odds Shark.
The question is: How will Rodriguez get the victory?
Caceres is tough, but his big weakness is in defending submissions. He'll get caught again but only after wilting under the heavy striking arsenal that Rodriguez brings with him. He'll get hit, a lot, before Rodriguez gets his back to sink in the rear-naked choke.
Caceres taps out and Rodriguez will move into contender territory for the foreseeable future.
Prediction: Yair Rodriguez defeats Alex Caceres via submission (rear-naked choke) in the third round.