Preview: UFC Fight Night 197 Prelims

Moises vs. Alvarez

The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s return to the UFC Apex on Saturday obviously looks like a step down from the promotion’s previous two weeks, but as for UFC Fight Night 197, the main card’s loss was the prelims’ gain. Outside of the main event, some of the best bouts reside on the undercard. Recent headliner Thiago Moises tries to rebound against Joel Alvarez in the featured slot, while Cynthia Calvillo and Andrea Lee attempt to recapture some shine as flyweight contenders. Meanwhile, Sean Woodson and Marc Diakiese remain prospects to watch further down the card, and the sleeper can be found in the opener, which features two rare interesting light heavyweight prospects in Kennedy Nzechukwu and Da Un Jung.

Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Holloway vs. Rodriguez” prelims:


#15 LW | Thiago Moises (15-5, 4-3 UFC) vs. NR | Joel Alvarez (18-2, 3-1 UFC)

ODDS: Moises (-250), Alvarez (+210)

His first UFC main event certainly did not go as planned, but Moises should remain a solid lightweight for years to come. It is always a bit of a shock to realize that Moises is still only in his mid-20s. He has been a professional for nearly a decade, and since he arrived on the wider radar, he has had the game of a much older fighter, staying patient and consistent. Moises can hold his own anywhere but mostly just stays back and takes what his opponent gives him. That can lead to his getting taken apart by faster strikers or controlled by better wrestlers, but it can just as easily lead to his scoring a quick submission or pouring on offense against an overly aggressive opponent like Alexander Hernandez. It was a bit of a surprise when Moises got the call for his first headlining affair, but he was also the clear B-side to Islam Makhachev, who managed to patiently take him apart without much issue. Moises looks to rebound against a sneakily tough opponent in Alvarez, who has greatly overachieved in the UFC compared to his prior expectations. A gigantic lightweight, Alvarez’s approach seemed simple enough on the regional scene, focusing on using his size and length on the feet to bait his opponents into taking the fight to the mat, at which point “El Fenomeno” could bust out his venomous submission game. That all worked well against opponents in Alvarez’s native Spain, but it figured to be a tough ask with the huge jump to UFC-level competition. Indeed, Alvarez’s UFC debut against Damir Ismagulov was a particularly poor showing, but he has since found three finishes in as many fights, including tapping out the much more decorated Joseph Duffy and Alexander Yakovlev. Moises figures to be too slick on the mat for Alvarez to catch, but the Spaniard could still make this an ugly fight if he is content to just strike from range. Moises does not really press the issue and may just wind up missing counters against a much longer fighter. There is some clear upset potential here, but the bet is that Moises can hit hard enough to make his best moments count the most and eke out a win, even if it figures to be an ugly affair. The pick is Moises via decision.

Continue Reading » Calvillo vs. Lee


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