UFC 180 Newcomer Breakdown: Leonardo Morales

MoralesChimmyPrior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at Nicaraguan featherweight Leonardo Morales as he takes on Mexican Yair Rodriguez in the TUF Latin America featherweight final at UFC 180.   Leonardo “Chimmy” Morales Hometown: Managua, Nicaragua Age: 21 Height: 5’9” Weightclass: Featherweight Camp: Escola da Luta MMA Career Record: 4-0 Key Wins: None Key Losses: None Background The first ever Nicaraguan fighter in the UFC, Chimmy holds an unbeaten record as he enters the octagon for the first time. On TUF Latin America, Chimmy beat Masio Fullen by knockout in the quarterfinal and defeated Gabriel Benitez by decision to earn his spot in the final.   Strengths

  • Really good leg kicks
  • Delivers good amount of damage with low kicks which slow down opponent
  • Capable finisher with left leg switch kick
  • Does well to maintain range where he can be most effective with his kicks
  • Transitions well off his back and will look for submissions


  • Over aggression leads him into positions where he can be taken down
  • Will struggle if opponent can control distance
  • Can be pushed against the cage where his striking is nullified

0MoralesGrade Matchup with Yair Rodriguez This should be the better of the two TUF Finales. Both of these fighters are very young with each under 23 years old. For the most part, they are pretty similar. Striking is the name of the game here. What we should see here is mainly a stand up exchange. Rodriguez is the longer fighter, but he’s more wild in his exchanges as he presses forward. Morales is the much more technical kickboxer. Morales’ strikes have more pop (both punches and kicks). Morales is able to land leg kicks with regularity and Rodriguez does not check kicks well. On the feet, Morales has the advantage. If the fight does go to the ground, Rodriguez appears to have a more well-rounded skill set. However, both fighters are rather unproven especially against quality competition. With that said, Morales did have the tougher road on TUF. Rodriguez was able to beat the one dimensional Humberto Brown in the quarterfinals and Rodolfo Rubio who already lost convincingly to Diego Rivas at UFC Fight Night 56. I expect this be a competitive contest ultimately decided by the judges.   UFC Ceiling Chimmy is a very young, but unproven fighter. He had trained and fought exclusively in Nicaragua prior to appearing on TUF Latin America. The Nicaraguan born bantamweight has perhaps the brightest future of anyone to appear on the show. His striking technique is very good. He’s shown he can be an effective counterstriker. He maintains distance well landing both his jab as well as devastating leg kicks. Like most fighters on this season TUF, he needs significant training in grappling and jiu jitsu. Unless he improves that aspect he won’t be anything further than a guy who puts on entertaining fights.   Fight Film Check out Leonardo Morales in some of his recent fights: Leonardo Morales vs. Jorge Urbina

  Leonardo Morales vs. Esdo de Paz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JODkvsCyHM

Written by Jay Primetown

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