Surging flyweight contenders meet in what is probably a title eliminator fight in the main event of UFC Mexico. Sergio Pettis hopes to make it four in a row against Mexico’s own Brandon Moreno, who is undefeated in the UFC. Say what you will about the name value of each fighter, but this is superb matchmaking. Both men are exciting, young fighters on the verge of potential showdowns with Demetrious Johnson. Even at elevation, I expect the fight to high paced and full of fireworks.
Mexico’s Moreno burst onto the scene in his UFC debut with an upset submission victory over Louis Smolka. He then showed that victory was no fluke, rattling off wins over Ryan Benoit and the ultra-tough Dustin Ortiz (after losing an exhibition bout on The Ultimate Fighter). At just 23 years old, Moreno is one of the division’s brightest prospects. Submission grappling is Moreno’s real bread and butter; he seems to have an innate ability to find the back and win scrambles. He is also competent on the feet, throwing classic punch/kick combinations with confidence. Fighting in Mexico City, Moreno will have the crowd wholeheartedly behind him, but I think Pettis is a bit too refined for Moreno at this point. I see Pettis getting the upset by decision, but don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last time we see these two meet.
At 23 years old with 17 professional fights under his belt, Sergio Pettis is really coming into his own as an elite fighter. Unlike his older brother Anthony, the younger Pettis has crisp, technical boxing that is the basis of his overall game. Despite a sometimes shaky chin and sometimes poor defense, Pettis is an excellent offensive striker. He will draw out counter strikes to land his own counter strikes, can throw from either stance, and has great kicks. Pettis will certainly be at a disadvantage on the ground against Moreno, but he is an elite athlete, and I expect him to use that athleticism to largely stay out of trouble in scrambles. Look for Pettis to dominate the early going with his crisp boxing and ride out some tough spots in the later rounds en route to a decision victory.