Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres: Pre-Fight Analysis - UFC Fight Night 92

UFC Fight Night 92 will be taking place this Saturday afternoon, at the Vivint Smart Home Arena (residence of the Jazz) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Looking at the card, I do believe it's quite underwhelming. For the most part, whenever the UFC makes its debut in a new market, they avoid the big money bouts. Why? Well, the brand finally showing up in your town is generally enough to sell the tickets. Having said that, there are a couple of interesting names popping out: the ever dangerous Cub Swanson, local Utahn Court McGee, and 'The Menace', Dennis Bermudez. However, the real attraction will be the featherweight contest between The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner Yair Rodríguez and Alex Caceres. Today, we'll briefly analyse the fight. Let's get to it:

Yair Rodriguez vs. Alex Caceres

To be honest, I fell in love with this matchup as soon as it was announced. We have two young, exciting warriors with similar styles, trying their hardest to make their way through a packed 145 lbs. division (Conor, Aldo, Frankie, Holloway, Swanson). This might not seem like a very consequential fight as a whole, but a victory would be hugely beneficial for both men.

Yair, El Pantera, Rodriguez is one of the most exciting prospects in MMA. A Taekwondo black belt, he possesses a very unique, effective striking method. The first thing that distinguishes Yair from any other mixed martial artist are his kicks. They're unbelievably quick and vicious. He typically utilizes low kicks to create distance for the bigger shots. But once he gets comfortable, he transforms into a wild, creative machine. You can't tell where he's going to attack next, and the second you start to doubt yourself, he puts you to sleep. He's also incredibly athletic. He can work at the Orthodox and Southpaw stance, and he truly understand footwork & side-to-side movement. Many elite strikers who make the transition into MMA have trouble adapting to the other facets of the game. Yair gladly embraces them. Moving to America as a way to train with wrestling coach Izzy Martinez, he improves every time he steps into the octagon. His grappling and wrestling are slowly coming together, while his Jiu-Jitsu and scrambling skills seems to be remarkably slick. At only 23 years of age, he has the potential to be the next big UFC Latin star.

Looking at his 12-8-1 record, you'd think Alex Caceres is a dud. I assure you, he's not. Competing since 2008, Bruce Leeroy has been around for a minute, dealing with tough costumers like Urijah Faber and Francisco Rivera. When it comes to his stand-up abilities, he doesn't get the credit he deserves. His originality and dexterity are off the charts (throwing double punches and 360° kicks). A very long, scrappy individual, he properly utilizes his reach, and has a good output. With a ton of tools at his disposal, he can finish fights in a variety of ways.

Who do I think holds the advantage? It's slightly hard to say, as these guys hold so many similarities. They're both really entertaining, and they aren't afraid to throw some flair even if it places them at risk. Still, I'm gonna have to go with Rodriguez. On the feet, Leeroy usually attempts to overwhelm his opponents with volume, whereas Yair has that one shot finish power. If the bout went to the ground, I also believe he has learned enough to stay away from bad position and control the exchanges.

El Pantera's key will be his countering abilities. While he loves to set the pace and be the aggressor, hanging back a little might be a rewarding idea. Caceres has a rather dirty tendency to drop his hands during retreat after attacking. Yair's quickness and power should allow him to clip Alex, and potentially TKO him.

On the other side, Bruce's key will be to stay creative. The second he becomes one-dimensional, the fight is over. He must stay active, and wait for Rodriguez to perform a flashy move that leaves an opening in order to capitalize.

Prediction: Yair Rodriguez, TKO, Round 3

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