Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight scrappers John Moraga and Sergio Pettis will throw down this Sunday (Jan. 15, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 103 inside Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
For the second time, Moraga will make an appearance in front of his hometown. He put on a great performance last time and will need to repeat that here, as the former 125-pound title challenger has lost his last two match ups. On the other hand, Pettis seems to be putting things together. The 23-year-old has won four of his last five bouts, and he’ll look to capitalize upon a step up in competition opposite Moraga.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 35), Justin Scoggins (UFC Fight Night 50), Chris Cariaso (UFC 155)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 8), Joseph Benavidez (UFC 187), John Dodson (UFC Fight Night 42)
Keys to Victory: Moraga is a well-rounded and tough Flyweight. He’s skilled in all areas and pushes a hard pace, which has allowed him to earn a position inside the Top 10.
He’ll need a win to maintain that spot.
Stylistically, it’s very likely that one man will batter the other. If Pettis is able to maintain distance and play his game, he’s very likely going to pick apart his opponent. On the other hand, if Moraga can pressure Pettis and make him uncomfortable, he has a chance to crack the prospect’s chin.
With that in mind, distance will be very important for Moraga. In his last bout, Matheus Nicolau — who has since popped for a banned substance — was able to maintain range, landing low kicks and sharp counters. Moraga doesn’t have a ton of tools from that range, and he was outpointed because of it.
That can’t happen here. Pettis is not the most powerful puncher, so Moraga needs to bite down and cut off the cage. If he’s able to get into boxing range, Moraga’s combinations are a serious threat, or he could look to land a takedown.
Key Wins: Chris Cariaso (UFC 192), Chris Kelades (UFC 197), Yaotzin Meza (UFC Fight Night 42)
Key Losses: Ryan Benoit (UFC 185), Alex Caceres (UFC on FOX 10)
Keys to Victory: Pettis, much like his brother, Anthony Pettis, is a kicks-and-submissions fighter. However, he’s less of a flashy finishing threat, relying on solid distance management and high volume to beat up his foes.
If you read the section above this one, Pettis’ gameplan should be quite clear. “The Phenom” does not want to trade with Moraga in the pocket or clinch, nor does he want to wrestle with the more experienced grappler.
Working from the outside is his best bet.
Pettis does very nice work when allowed to kickbox. He takes angles to score hard kicks often, and Pettis will also jump into the pocket with a quick combination before ducking away to safety. If he can use his footwork to stay away from the fence and his jab to back off Moraga, Pettis should be able to land better strikes at a higher rate than his foe.
Bottom Line: This is a very important bout for both men.
Moraga cannot afford another loss. If he loses a third straight match, he’s definitely going to drop out of the rankings and could even receive his pink slip. It’s just a not a situation Moraga wants to be in, and losing in Phoenix would be extra salt in the wound.
A win reaffirms his position as a gatekeeper to the division’s best and Top 10-ranked athlete. Pettis has some momentum behind him, so getting back into the win column opposite the young fighter would definitely help him turn things around.
As for Pettis, this is a very big opportunity for him. His record inside the Octagon is quite good, but he’s still without any signature win. If he’s able to dominate or finish a proven vet like Moraga, it would go a long way in moving him toward the title picture.
On the other hand, defeat here shows that Pettis still needs more seasoning before attempting to climb the ranks any further. That’s not a major issue thanks to his youth, but Pettis already believes his time is now.
At UFC Fight Night 103, John Moraga and Sergio Pettis will battle. Which man will have his hand raised?
Source:: mma mania