UFC Fight Night 103 Fight Breakdown: John Moraga vs Sergio Pettis

John MoragaPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at the opening fight of the main card, as John Moraga and Sergio Pettis square off in a Top 15 flyweight clash at UFC Fight Night 103. John Moraga (Record: 16-5, +115 Underdog, Power Ranking: C+) The eighth-ranked flyweight in the UFC returns to the Octagon for the first time since July 2016. He’s lost two straight fights and is in desperate need of a win to keep his position in the UFC. The Arizona born and raised Moraga has been fighting in the UFC since 2012 and is one of the longest-tenured fighters in the division. His amateur background is in freestyle wrestling despite averaging just over half a takedown per 15 minutes in the Octagon. On the feet, his output is quite a bit lower than most flyweights. He averages only 2.43 significant strikes per minute. It has been his lack of output that has cost him in the past; particularly in his fight against Brazilian Matheus Nicolau. Moraga really struggles in a prolonged stand-up where his opponent can put him on the back foot. He appeared mystified by Nicolau and simply wasn’t able to be engaged in the fight. Perhaps where Moraga does his best work is in transitions. He’s very opportunistic when it comes to submissions. For example, he’s won a few fights with guillotine chokes in less than ideal circumstances. Moraga is a finisher with four of his five wins in the UFC by stoppage. Sergio Pettis (Record: 14-2, -135 Favorite, Power Ranking: C+) Younger brother of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, the 15th-ranked flyweight looks to extend his winning streak to three when he takes on Moraga. This will be the eighth fight in the UFC for the 23-year-old Roufusport product. The Milwaukee native became an accomplished striker at quite a young age. He holds black belts in both karate and taekwondo. His striking prowess is evident right from the start. He’s very fluid on the feet with excellent footwork. It allows him to move him in and out of the pocket with relative ease. His striking approach is varied. He counters well with his hands and does a great job to land strikes in combination. Where he’s most vulnerable is in a high-paced fight. Pettis has slowed down in fights before and can struggle against high-energy opponents. Stronger opponents have also been able to push him against the cage and modify his offense by putting him on his back. He’s been taken down by opponents in six of his seven UFC fights. Matchup This is an important fight in the flyweight division for two Americans who appear to be going in opposite directions. Moraga is a fighter who started out well in the UFC and has cooled off of late while the much younger Pettis had some growing pains in his early fights and now seems to have turned a corner. In the stand-up, I see a significant advantage for Pettis. He’s a much more active fighter in the striking exchanges, landing over 1.5 more strikes per minute than Moraga. I expect Moraga to struggle with the variety that Pettis brings to table. Moraga has a tendency to not be able to pull the trigger against technical strikers, so that’s something to definitely watch for in this fight. Pettis has made some major mental mistakes in the past that have cost him in fights. This fight is about Pettis showing he’s overcome those mental lapses as much as being offensively capable of beating a longtime veteran like Moraga. The price point is nearly even with Pettis a modest (-135) favorite. Given the direction these two fighters have been going, Pettis should win this bout. However, it’s tough to back Pettis until his performances become more consistent overall.

Written by Jay Primetown

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