Featherweight Fireworks? UFC Fresno Preview, Breakdown & Analysis

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Marlon Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling

Prior to signing with the UFC earlier this year, Moraes had established himself as one of the best bantamweights competing outside of the Octagon, as he racked up 12 consecutive victories while defending his WSOF title five consecutive times.

Despite facing off with lesser ranked competition, the Brazilian scored seven finishes in that stretch, showcasing fight ending power and a vicious arsenal of leg kicks. Two of those finishes also came by way of submission.

His UFC tenure thus far, however, has been lackluster, to say the least. His promotional debut ended in a closely fought split-decision loss to Raphael Assuncao. He then followed that up with an impressive, but once again closely fought split-decision victory over John Dodson this past July.

Sterling, on the other hand, has established himself as a contender since entering the UFC in 2014. He’s compiled a 6-2 Octagon record with three of those victories coming by way of stoppage, but he’s come up short when matched against the division’s elite, dropping decisions to Bryan Caraway and Raphael Assuncao.

Nevertheless, the Long Island native uses a unique striking style and a strong submission game backed by a collegiate wrestling background. On the feet, Sterling likes to move forward and unlike most fighters, he likes to kick more often than punch and he uses his kicks to set up his punches. He has, however, improved his boxing, which he showcased in his last fight, soundly defeating former champion Renan Barao.

It’ll be interesting to see if Sterling will be able to successfully use his kicks in this bout, as Moraes is a dangerous kicker in his own right. Despite his mediocre UFC start, the Brazilian is a high-level fighter, and I expect him to use his jab to keep Sterling away before he attempts to unload his vicious Muay Thai.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see this fight go either way, but I’m leaning towards “The Funkmaster”. He may not be able to submit Moraes, but he should look to land the takedown, which will be no easy task, and control his opponent in order to land effective ground and pound.

Prediction: Aljamain Sterling def. Marlon Moraes via unanimous decision