UFC 187 Fight Breakdown: Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga

ufc-156 The opening main card bout at UFC 187 is a three-round flyweight bout between Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Benavidez is a -600 favorite (bet $600 to win $100) while Moraga is a +450 underdog (bet $100 to win $450). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Benavidez at -505 and Moraga at +335, and the bettors are all over Benavidez so far. I expect Benavidez to win this contest and understand why he’s such a big favorite. Here’s why. Benavidez (21-4) is one of the top flyweights in the UFC. The 30-year-old American is 8-2 overall in the UFC with wins over the likes of Eddie Wineland, Jussier Formiga and Ian McCall with his two losses coming to the champ Demetrious Johnson. A member of Team Alpha Male, Benavidez fights just like the other elite members of his camp. He’s an excellent grappler on the ground capable of pulling off slick submissions, he has good wrestling, his cardio is excellent, and he’s very technical and powerful on the feet. He is a finisher, as well, having stopped 15 fighters in his 21 career victories. He has very few flaws in his game, and is arguably the second-best flyweight in the world outside of Johnson. In his second fight with Johnson he was shockingly KOed in brutal fashion, but since then he’s picked up two nice wins over Tim Elliott and Dustin Ortiz to re-emerge as a contender, and a win over Moraga should be enough to put him right back in line for a title shot. Moraga (16-3) is also one of the best flyweights in the UFC. The 31-year-old American is 5-2 overall in the UFC with wins over Justin Scoggins, Ortiz, Willie Gates, Chris Cariaso and Ulysses Gomez with his only losses coming to the champ Johnson and John Dodson. Of his five UFC wins four have come by stoppage, indicating his finishing prowess. Moraga is a tough, scrappy veteran who is good just about everywhere. On the feet he has underrated knockout power and on the ground he has the ability to submit you. He also has solid wrestling and is generally able to control where his fights take place. He is a good fighter, but we’ve seen that when he steps up he loses to the elite of the division, and we’ve see him lose to better wrestlers as well, which is exactly what Benavidez is. That’s why Moraga’s such a big underdog in this fight, despite being a highly-skilled fighter in his own right, although he is often in competitive fights and could make this closer than we all think. Benavidez is a better fighter than Moraga, and that’s why I’m picking him here. I think he has a big edge if the fight hits the ground and I also think he has the edge on the feet if it stays standing. Moraga is a durable, tough veteran fighter, so I’m not sure if Benavidez gets the finish, but I do think he gets the victory, likely by decision in a fun flyweight fight. The line, though, is a bit too high for my liking. I do favor Benavidez to win, but Moraga’s a solid fighter and -600 on Benavidez seems excessive. We’ve seen flyweight bouts can be competitive, and with the state of MMA judging it’s hard to be confident the judges score the fight for the right man. That’s why I’ll stay away from this one as I’m just worried about a controversial split decision if this fight is closer than we all think. The pick is Benavidez by decision, but the high line is keeping me away from making a bet.

Written by Adam Martin.

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