UFC Vancouver was a very exciting night of fights filled with athletic fighters and excellent match making, but we unfortunately only logged 1 win out of the 3 picks given last week. This week we are looking to get back on the winning path but we have to be careful because UFC Mexico is treacherous. The first thing you need to know about UFC Mexico is that the altitude WILL be a factor. There is a legend amongst MMA bettors of “Sea Level Cain’ where the greatest heavyweight anybody had ever seen with an unprecedented gas tank lost the heavyweight title in front of his home country because he didn’t account for the elevation. In 2015 Cain Velasquez was primed to defend the title he had JUST won from Junior Dos Santos and light the MMA market on fire in Mexico for the UFC, but nobody anticipated the effect that the altitude in Mexico City would have on such legendary cardio and it buried him.
Pro Tip: Be very careful betting on fighters with questionable cardio in Mexico City
UFC Mexico is lacking in star power, but some of the fights are very well matched. The co-main event of Carla Esparza vs Alexa Grasso is a crossroads fight between a potential new star and a former champion looking to get back on the horse. Brandon Moreno will have the home field advantage and will look to be the first man to defeat the 10-0 Askar Askarov. There are 4 women’s MMA fights on the card and the ties to Mexico are strong. This is another fight night where we may not be overly excited about the names we see, but these are the kinds of fighters who will look for blood in order to make names for themselves and those always lead to high levels of entertainment.
The Main Event at UFC Mexico is Yair Rodriguez vs Jeremy Stephens and we are in for a treat with this fight. Yair Rodriguez is finally making his long awaited return after his insane 5 round war with the Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night 139 back in November and he has a tall test in front of him. One of the biggest fighters and hardest hitters in Jeremy Stephens will be waiting for him in the center of the cage on Saturday September 21st and I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if we get another fight for the ages.
In the co-main event young prospect Alexa Grasso is getting the opportunity to break thought with a win over a former UFC Champion in Cala Esparza. Carla may have something to say about that as the first ever champion at women’s Strawweight and being only 31 years old she isn’t quite ready to fade away.
Alexa Grasso (-117) Stats:
- 26 years old
- 66 inch reach
- 5.79 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
- 3.78 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
- 63% Takedown Defense
Alexa Grasso Notable Facts:
- Record: 11 – 2
- BJJ Purple Belt
- Trains in Mexico
Alexa Grasso is an obvious option for the UFC to be interested in. She is very young at only 26 years old and looks like she is getting some push from the company. She’s active on instagram and attractive, she’s a legit threat on the ground as a BJJ purple belt, AND she throws serious heat. Alexsa is aggressive and exciting, she basically checks all the boxes the UFC is looking for. While she is facing a grinding veteran in Cala Esparza, Alexsa will likely have a cardio advantage and Esparza is well known for not reacting well to being hit in the face after losing her belt to Joana back in 2015. This is a spot where we need to roll with the younger local fighter and bank on some hometown cooking as well as the judges likely favoring striking and damage over being held down for a few minutes.
Best Pick: Jeremy Stephens (-117) with Pinnacle
Brandon Moreno (+150) Stats:
- 25 years old
- 70 inch reach
- 2.65 Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute
- 3.02 Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
- 2.71 Takedowns per 15 minutes
- 61% Takedown Defense
Brandon Moreno Notable Facts:
- Record: 15 – 5
- Won LFA Title in his last fight
- 10 wins by Submission
- 80% Finish Rate
Brandon Moreno came onto the UFC scene like a bat out of hell in 2016. The young fighter came off The Ultimate Fighter and brought chaos to every fight in the UFC’s cage where he thrived and then drown his opponents. Moreno notched 3 wins in a row before running into trouble and dropping losses to Sergio Pettis and Alexandre Pantoja who are at/near the top of the UFCs Flyweight division. After the UFC decided they might not have a taste for Flyweight and Moreno dropped two in a row he was signed by LFA where he won the strap from their champion Maikle Perez via TKO in round 4.
Moreno has been underrated and disrespected in the UFC and by bookmakers since he started fighting. Moreno is a BJJ brown belt and scrambles very well we well as using trips and takedowns to get the fight where his scrambles and athleticism put the fight in his favor. He is facing UFC newcomer the undefeated Askar Askarov who travels to Mexico City from Russia and is a ground specialist himself. Askar has rather sloppy striking and leaves his chin open to be hit, but his ground game is fierce for just being a purple belt. As far as BJJ rankings go we would expect Moreno to have the upper hand on the ground. Askar is the perfect opponent to highlight Moreno’s ability to scramble on the ground in front of his home country and I would expect Moreno to have the edge basically everywhere this fight goes. Not only that, but Askar has to travel all the way from Russia AND acclimate to the elevation of Mexico City which Brandon will be very familiar and comfortable with. I do not understand how Moreno isn’t the favorite in this fight.
Best Pick: Brandon Moreno +150 with 5Dimes