Salt Lake City plays host to the UFC for the first time when the Octagon sets up shop at Vivint Smart Home Arena on August 6. The main event features exciting featherweights looking to prove they belong among the top contenders as Yair Rodriguez and Alex Caceres clash.
Yair Rodriguez vs Alex Caceres
Yair Rodriguez is one of the top prospects in MMA today. At only 23 years of age and with a near-perfect 8-1 professional record, Rodriguez very well could be the future of the UFC’s featherweight division.
Rodriguez is one of the craftiest and flashiest strikers in MMA today, as he throws kicks from every conceivable angle. ‘Pantera’ has a black belt in taekwondo, which makes him extremely comfortable throwing every kicking technique from spinning back kicks to switch kicks.
This style is entertaining but can put Rodriguez in some odd situations in the Octagon – though this has yet to be exploited it is important to note.
Rodriguez can implement his wild style of striking thanks to his footwork and his solid grappling abilities. The Jackson-Wink product is constantly moving when he steps inside the cage, which allows him to stay at kicking range and exploit holes in his opponent’s defense. Rodriguez has also been training extensively with Izzy Martinez – and even living in the trainer’s basement – to work on his wrestling game.
Trying to follow Alex Caceres’ career trajectory over the past several years has not been easy. ‘Bruce Leeroy’ started at 155 lbs before dropping 145 then 135 and now he is back at 145. His second tenure at featherweight has been successful so far, as Caceres is 2-0 in his past two bouts.
Caceres has been especially adept on the feet across his past two fights – though against fighters who are not especially good strikers – as he has a striking differential of +111. Constant movement and the willingness to attack at odd angles have helped Caceres resurrect his career. His fluidity and ability to find the range with his fists makes him a surprisingly difficult opponent to deal with.
Though Caceres was considered a submission fighter – he has not really demonstrated those abilities in quite some time. He has not picked up a submission victory since January 2014 and showed that he can be exploited in that area against a skilled BJJ artist like Cole Miller.
Rodriguez could be the next golden boy of the UFC – if they know what they have on their hands – and they are giving him an opponent he should be able to beat. Caceres is the first fighter that could be able to move with Rodriguez on the feet, which will be vital as he needs to stick to ‘Pantera’ to avoid being on the receiving end of vicious kicks. If Caceres can suffocate Rodriguez, then he may be able to find some spots to land his shots.
Rest of The Main Card
Dennis Bermudez attempts to climb up the featherweight rankings and prove he is a contender when he takes on stalwart Rony Jason in the co-main event. Bermudez is a fantastic wrestler who is more often than not able to put his opponents on their back and work strikes from the top. Though Bermudez is a tough out, all of his losses have come via stoppage. Jason holds a black belt in BJJ and has picked up eight of his 14 career victories via submission. Jason is a dangerous fighter but has yet to prove he can hang with the top tier in the division.
Veterans moving in opposite directions step inside the Octagon when slumping Thales Leites takes on streaking Chris Camozzi. Leites is an excellent grappler with 14 career victories via submission. He has clearly spent a lot of time working on his striking game, but it was still the biggest reason for his past two losses. Camozzi is an effective, volume-based kickboxer who is tough as nails – the Englewood native has never been knocked out. His takedown defense is good, but not great and he is at a distinct disadvantage on the ground.
Santiago Ponzinibbio and Zak Cummings clash with a potential ranked opponent being awarded to the victor. Ponzinibbio is an aggressive striker who pushes the pace, even if it is at his own detriment. The Argentinian is able to do that because he is not concerned about being taken down, as he has a black belt in BJJ. Cummings is a big welterweight who uses his strength and size advantage to land takedowns. Once on top, Cummings is good at working and scoring points. He is predominantly a counter-puncher on the feet, which could be dangerous against Ponzinibbio.
UFC Newcomer Joseph Gigliotti takes on veteran Trevor Smith in a middleweight bout. Gigliotti has ended all seven of his pro fights, but he has three bouts make it deep into the third so his cardio should hold up. Smith was a junior college wrestler and he combines those skills with jiu-jitsu in a lethal cocktail for submissions.
The main card opens with Maryna Moroz taking on newcomer Danielle Taylor. Moroz is a submission-first fighter with five of her seven career wins coming via sub – with all of those coming via armbar. Taylor – who is fighting on short notice – has a Muay Thai background and has won her past two bouts via TKO.
UFC Fight Night 92: Rodriguez vs Caceres Betting Odds
Odds as of August 3 at Bodog
- Yair Rodriguez -280
- Alex Caceres +220
- Dennis Bermudez -225
- Rony Jason +175
- Thales Leites -175
- Chris Camozzi +145
- Santiago Ponzinibbio -170
- Zak Cummings +140
- Joseph Gigliotti -140
- Trevor Smith +110
- Matyna Muroz -240
- Danielle Taylor +190
- Court McGee -225
- Dominique Steele +175
- Marcin Tybura -140
- Viktor Pesta +110
- David Teymur -125
- Jason Novelli -105
- Teruto Ishihara -225
- Horacio Gutierrez +175
- Cub Swanson -365
- Tatsuya +275
- Justin Ledet -145
- Chase Sherman +115