UFC Fight Night 92 Breakdown: Alex Caceres vs Yair Rodriguez

Yair RodriguezPrior 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 main event of Fight Night 92 as Alex Caceres fights rising featherweight prospect Yair Rodriguez.   Alex Caceres (Record: 12-8, +250 Underdog, Fighter Grade: C) The Miami born and raised fighter now fighting out of the MMA Lab is only 28 years of age, but already has 14 fights in the UFC. Caceres enters his first UFC main event on a two fight winning streak including a victory over veteran Cole Miller. The long, lanky featherweight got his start in MMA fighting in the underground fighting culture of Miami, Florida. Caceres found his way into the UFC competing on Season 12 of The Ultimate Fighter. He made it into the house losing to eventual champion Michael Johnson.  He’s had an up and down run in the UFC with a 7-6-1 record inside the promotion. His striking is unorthodox as he uses his long limbs well to strike from unorthodox angles. He certainly doesn’t have big time power, but certainly has increased his power striking over time. He lands nearly four significant strikes a minute so he does put together a pretty decent work rate in the standup exchanges. On the ground, he’s got a really crafty submission game. He transitions really well on the mat to advance into threatening positions. Caceres certainly isn’t the most physically imposing fighter, but he’s unique skill set and approach make him a tough out.   Yair Rodriguez (Record: 8-1, -300 Favorite, Fighter Grade: C+) The featherweight champion on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, Rodriguez has been on a tear since making his debut in the UFC winning all four of his fights in the promotion. At just 23 years of age, Rodriguez is a budding star in the UFC’s loaded featherweight division. El Pantera brings his taekwondo based approach in the octagon into his first main event. Rodriguez, like Caceres, uses a rather unorthodox approach. He’s extremely aggressive on the feet and has no fear trying new attacks and coming forward at various angles. When Rodriguez fights, there’s a possibility one may see a maneuver never attempted in the Octagon before. Whether it’s a type of spinning attack or a new type of kick, Rodriguez brings that kind of athleticism and excitement inside the cage. With each fight, Rodriguez has gained experience and looked more impressive. He’s out struck his opponents by a wider margin in each successive fight. Furthermore, he’s proven very difficult to hit absorbing just 1.95 significant strikes a minute. Rodriguez has an underrated wrestling game as well securing takedowns in all four of his UFC bouts averaging just over two takedowns per 15 minutes in the octagon. He’s capable of winning on the feet as well as controlling opponents on the ground. That’s why he’s already surged into the top 15 of the UFC’s featherweight rankings.   Match-up The headlining fight on the UFC Fight Night 92 card appears to be really exciting on paper. Both of these fighters are long, lanky, and bring forward an unorthodox approach. In many facets, they are mirror images of each other. Rodriguez certainly has more upside and is the better overall athlete, but Caceres has much more experience and has the more crafty submission game. Given how these fighters are aggressive and like to press the action, it’s difficult seeing how this fight makes it five rounds. The fight ends inside the distance prop (-260) is certainly the safest play on the main event as neither guy has fought five rounds before. As for a winner, this is a little more tricky than the odds would indicate. Rodriguez certainly has more ways to win. He can win by knockout or submission controlling the fight on the feet and then capitalizing with his heavier strikes. Caceres, on the other hand, is unlikely to win the striking exchanges, but is very capable on the ground and could certainly find a submission on Rodriguez. If he were to win, by submission (+625) is the most likely outcome for him to get his hand raised. Given the similarities in fight approach, I think this bout is much closer than the 3 to 1 odds currently indicate for Rodriguez.

Written by Jay Primetown

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