The UFC finally makes its debut in Mexico (Mexico City to be exact) after years of talking about moving into the Mexican market. The stars seemed to be aligned for the Arena Cuidad de Mexico venue with Cain Velasquez looking to defend his title against TUF rival Fabricio Werdum, but alas, the MMA gods hate us. And probably rightfully so. And Cain pulled out of the bout due to injury on October 21st.
The Line Up
Featherweight Yair Rodríguez vs. Leonardo Morales
Bantamweight Alejandro Pérez vs. José Alberto Quiñónez
Women's Bantamweight Jessica Eye vs. Leslie Smith
Featherweight Gabriel Benítez vs. Humberto Brown
Bantamweight Enrique Briones vs. Guido Cannetti
Bantamweight Marco Beltrán vs. Marlon Vera
3 Things You Should Know
1. The Bantamweight finale already has video up. In 2013, Quinonez defeated Perez in a bout that probably isn't worth your 15 minutes.
Perez vs. Quinonez is actually a rematch of a fight you can watch here. It's a competitive fight which is why it's so odd that Perez is a +190, as the fight was pretty competitive. I'm not arguing that "Teco" Quinonez won't win. He's 24, and is likely ready to improve. But Perez was able to pick him up and slam him, get top control, and scramble for submissions in their bout. Teco won with a brief dose of sexiness: dropped Perez, and took back control at one point, but other than throwing the more intimidating looking strikes, never really took control. It's a winnable fight for Perez if he just sticks to the basics. I won't bank on it, but I've seen worse odds.
"Chimmy" Morales had one of those Phillipe Nover moments: the loose definition of which involves many different elements, but the essential one is the way an outcome can cause Dana White to flip his whig. He's no Ricardo Mayorga, but his style is fun to watch, and at 21 years of age, he hasn't even peaked. From his southpaw stance, he flicks a dangerous left leg and high kick. Actually, "flick" is the wrong word. More like bludgeons.
"Pantera" Rodriguez has clearly improved from his amateur buts. He's a unique mixture of high octane offense with a blue collar strategy. He doesn't throw flying knees as shortcuts: they're just moves to keep the fight in his favor. He's well rounded, but not static. Which is why this bout reminds me so much of said TUF finale. Morales looks a little flashier, but you understand why he's +135 underdog. Rodriguez should be able to pin him down, and even if it's on the feet, he's not completely outmatched.
3. With the exception of Eye vs. Smith, the quality wanes from here on out.
I'm still not convinced that Smith has taken the Diaz torch and run with it in the women's division. It was nice to see her take out one of the four whatever Ronda Rousey's friends are calling themselves, but Jessica Eye will be a major step up from Jessamyn Duke. Eye is an active boxer who keeps her combinations crisp, while Smith uses her momentum to compliment her technique. It's another one of those bouts that could potentially confound a set of judges who have vastly different interpretations over what constitutes "effective offense".
You're not gonna get a lot out of Beltran and Vera. Vera has the much cleaner game. He doesn't throw a lot of punches, but he's not really pillow fisted, and he doesn't lack snarl. Still, he wants every fight on the ground where he can take advantage of his grappling. Beltran is much more meat and potatoes. He hunts his takedowns pretty aggressively, and once there, likes to score punches and general damage while looking for submission opportunities. However, he's lost his last 3, and I expect this to be his 4th. Vera, who doesn't make many mistakes and fights very deliberately, is just a terrible matchup for him.
It's funny how things work out on TUF. Guys you wouldn't expect to be called "rejects" are nonetheless labeled as such even though some very good fighters have never won on TUF: Matt Brown, Joe Lauzon, Myles Jury, etc. Guido Cannetti is one of those guys. While he doesn't have an extensive dance card, he's got some experience, including a brutal and quick win over WEC pseudo-veteran, Rafael Dias.
However, you watch him fight, and realize why he lost twice on TUF (granted, one involved a point deduction that cost him), because he's too much like Ramsey Nijem. The guy bulls forward using momentum as some kind of defense, and gets tagged for his troubles. Like Nijem, he's got serious power. His leg left from his southpaw stance is brutal, and he's constantly looking to windmill slam his opponents with both hands. It'll be interesting to see how Briones deals with Guido's style. Briones reminds of the smoker show version of Zak Cummings. It feels like Briones' fight to lose, but I can't help but root for Guido's style.
There's not much to get excited about in this one other than to note that Humberto is a +260 underdog. That's ontologically correct, but neither guy will make noise in the increasingly competitive Featherweight division. And it comes down to this: these guys just aren't proper athletes. Benitez is competent but slow. To borrow from one of my favorite hockey 'vloggers', Benitiez is the quintessential "competent bum". Whereas Brown is quick offensively, but slow defensively. Watching his TUF fight, you kind of understand why the fighters he's beaten thus far (his record is 4-4) have a combined record of 1-8. Yeesh.
Rodriguez by Decision.
Quinonez by TKO, round 3.
Eye by Decision.
Benitez by Decision.
Cannetti by TKO, round 1.
Vera by RNC, round 2.