Showdown Joe Previews UFC Salt Lake City

UFC Fight Night: Rodríguez vs. Caceres is set to go off on Saturday night, at The Vivint Smart Home Arena, in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a featherweight headliner that could resemble a real life video game.

Yair Rodriguez (7-1) and Alex Caceres (12-8-0-1) are some of the most unpredictable fighters in the sport today. They would both admit that sometimes even they don’t know what they will be throwing next. Spinning punches and kicks, feints to double feints, to dance and stance with cobra like lunging attacks.

“Bruce Leroy” is getting a nice reputation as a party spoiler. He stopped the ascension of Sergio Pettis two years ago and halted Cole Miller in his tracks two months ago. Heck, if you go back and watch the first round of his fight with Urijah Faber, he was giving “The California Kid” all he could handle.

He’ll be looking to spoil the potential long term plans the UFC has for what could be their next big Latin money-maker. Rodriguez is a great poster child for all things that have to do with any latin market the UFC does business with. He’s fairly eloquent outside the cage and matrix-like inside of it.

Taking a look at this fight on paper, the slight edge in the striking department goes to Caceres. When it comes to the takedowns, Yair attempts more per 15 mins fight, yet Alex is far more accurate (80% vs. 39%) in his execution. Mind you, the better takedown defender is Rodriguez (65% to 57%) but if does hit the mat, it’s Rodriguez who attempts more submissions … a near 2:1 ratio.

Reach could be a factor here, but not by much: Caceres is one inch shorter but does have a 2” reach advantage. Generally speaking, the taller fighter with a reach of 3” or more would make this stat a favorable one … in this case, it looks like a wash.

We all know paper doesn’t fight paper but in looking at these numbers, it is expected this one will be a close affair. But I’m not sure I’m buying what the math is telling us … this one could obviously end in a heartbeat. And if you ask the betting public, they are seriously going with Yair Rodriquez, as he is an average -300 favorite with the oddsmakers.

I personally believe he will likely pull out the victory in Salt Lake City, but if I was a betting man, that +245 for Caceres would be tempting.

As for the rest of the card …

Dennis Bermudez will be taking on Rony Jason. If “The Menace” can deal with “Jason’s” first round onslaught, he should be able to pull of a victory in Rds 2 or 3. At 32, and having not competed since May of 2015, I think Rony’s stamina could begin to dissipate rather quickly after round one.

Thales Leites is set to square off against Chris Camozzi. This one almost like it’s a rudimentary bout to break down. Provided Leites doesn’t choose to stand and bank with Camozzi, he should be fine if this one hits the mat. If he’s studied Chris’ bouts vs. Jacare, he’ll smell what I’m cooking here. But, if Camozzi can defend all takedown attempts and keep this one standing, I believe he could win this one on the scorecards.

While there are other bouts that could captivate many of you readers out there, the other one I’ll be paying close attention to is Cub Swanson vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri.

If you listened to my most recent podcast here, I have a soft-spot in my heart for Kawajiri. I’ve followed his career since his days in Shooto and realize that there comes a time in every fighter’s career, when MMA mileage on the body is simply another stumbling block preventing them from executing their technique like they used to as a youth.

At age 38, Kawajiri may not have much left in the tank for even a vintage appreciater like me. Swanson is 32, is still on the cusp of contenders in this division, and will need this fight to remain relevant. If Tatsuya cannot get the clinch or get this fight down to the ground, it could be an ugly night for the Japanese MMA pioneer.

Don’t forget - will have a post-event podcast later this weekend recapping UFC Fight Night: Rodríguez vs. Caceres, so make sure you tune in for Sean Ross Sapp and I, and it goes without saying … tell your friends to tune in as well. Do it, or Sean will fire off one his zany promos again.

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