The UFC sets up shop in Utica, New York for a rare Friday card on June 1. UFC Fight Night: Rivera vs Moraes will feature a fantastic main event with title implications, as Jimmie Rivera takes on Marlon Moraes.
The rest of the card is an interesting mix of up-and-comers and veterans with a little bit of a name to help sell some tickets. Events like this can be hard for bettors, so here at OddsShark we broke down some of the most interesting bouts and give you the predictions for UFC Fight Night: Rivera vs Moraes.
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Jimmie Rivera vs Marlon Moraes
Rivera (-120) is a high-volume boxer who exudes athleticism. “El Terror” fights much longer than his stalky, muscular frame suggests but is at his best when he can get into the pocket and unleash his vicious combinations. Power isn’t exactly his strong suit but his volume and overwhelming pace break down opponents and win judges over. Rivera is well-rounded and can grapple offensively but it is his defensive wrestling that truly separates him – he has never been taken down in the UFC.
Moraes (-110) is a Muay Thai master with some of the most vicious leg kicks in the game. To properly utilize his kicking game, “Magic” Moraes needs space in the striking game – something he does with movement and a steady barrage of kicks. If you can suffocate him and give him little room to breathe, you take away his biggest asset. He is an owner of a black belt in BJJ but his wrestling skills are somewhat questionable.
This fight is as tight as they come. However, Rivera’s aggression and pace should eventually get to Moraes. I expect this to be a five-round chess match with punching but Rivera’s pace should ultimately be the deciding factor.
Prediction: Jimmie Rivera (-120) via decision
Gian Villante vs Sam Alvey
Villante (+115) is a crisp kickboxer who has flashed some decent finishing ability, albeit against lesser competition. His game is built around pressure and output in striking, choosing to overwhelm opponents early in the fight. This style works for him but it can also expose his questionable cardio if a fight starts dragging on. Villante has stellar takedown defense thanks to his significant amount of time training with Chris Weidman.
No need to dance around it, Alvey (-145) is basically just a power puncher. That’s not to say that his technique is unrefined – “Smile’n” Sam actually has a pretty well-rounded counter-striking arsenal. Occasionally he will throw for volume but he prefers to patiently wait for his opportunity to throw a blistering shot with fight-ending intention. Alvey also sports some great takedown defense, in order to keep a fight on the feet.
Typically, Villante simply doesn’t lose unless an opponent can take him down and wear him out early. He is a front-runner but his striking defense is questionable, a concern against a counter-striker like Alvey. I’d steer clear of this fight if you’re a bettor but I do lean toward Villante’s early volume to squeak out a win.
Prediction: Gian Villante (+115) via decision
Sijara Eubanks vs Lauren Murphy
Eubanks (-185) is set to make her official UFC debut after making it to the finals of TUF 26 before being unable to fight due to medical issues. “SarJ” is a massive flyweight who will likely struggle to make the weight – that was her M.O. on TUF – but utilizes her size advantage well. She is incredibly strong and owns a black belt in BJJ, allowing her to dominate grappling exchanges. Her striking is raw but she has natural power you can’t teach.
Murphy (+150) has been a longtime fixture in the UFC – with five bouts in the organization plus her time in TUF. Murphy is as tough as a two-dollar steak and is very aggressive as a striker, happily eating a strike to give one. Her punches are accurate and carry some decent power. Her main skill has been touted as her wrestling, which is a concern considering she has consistently struggled to land takedowns in the UFC.
Keep an eye on Eubanks’ weight cut leading into this bout because it could play an important part in the outcome. However, Murphy doesn’t offer the strength to stop Eubanks from physically dominating her in grappling exchanges.
Prediction: Sijara Eubanks (-185) via submission
Jarred Brooks vs Jose Torres
Brooks (+125) is a grappler through and through. “The Monkey God” will aggressively pursue takedown attempts relentlessly until he can get top control. Once on top, he will throw a steady diet of punches, though he doesn’t offer a ton of power. While standing, Brooks is constantly on the move with great lateral movement and solid feints. However, he throws very few strikes – less than two per minute – and is solely focused on grappling.
Torres (-155) makes his long-awaited UFC debut on short notice after replacing Hector Sandoval. “Shorty” is one of the most complete prospects MMA has seen in some time with incredibly quick and powerful hands and physically dominant wrestling and submission skills. His wrestling defense is not perfect but he typically hides that behind his striking and footwork.
Brooks comes into this fight with a full training camp and with an aggressive arsenal of takedowns. However, he is small, even for flyweight, which greatly hinders his wrestling ability. Torres is bigger, faster and a more skilled striker – even if he took this bout on two weeks’ notice.
Prediction: Jose Torres (-115) via knockout