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UFC Fight Night: Mousasi vs. Souza - The Idiot's Guide and Preview to John Moraga vs. Justin Scoggins

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Flyweight prospect Justin Scoggins looks to rebound from a fairly questionable loss against Dustin Ortiz to face off against peer and former contender, John Moraga at UFN 50.

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Flyweight John Moraga vs. Justin Scoggins

Non-Advanced Stats

23 wins and 4 losses between the two fighters for a combined win percentage of 85%. There are 8 TKO/KO victories between the two, 7 submission wins, and 8 decision victories. So a combined finishing rate of 55%. In other words, don't expect a finish. But expect some solid action.

Controversies, Imagined or Otherwise

Not today.  Some fans might feel like Scoggins shouldn't be fighting someone coming off a loss since Scoggins, or so the argument goes, deserved a victory over Dustin Ortiz. I remember thinking round 3 was awfully close, and that people need to be open to scoring draws in a round because offense and defense should be scored just like a complete lack of it. We don't have to flip a coin to decide who won rounds people. Just saying.

Idiot's Guide

At 14-3 Moraga hasn't lost much, but the first time he did, it was downright metaphysical. Stopwatches were used in place of real timers, tickets for the event were purchasable only the day of, and every fighter's check bounced for what would be Nemesis' only event ever for what are obvious reasons by now. Moraga has only lost to John Dodson and Demetrious Johnson. I don't expect those to be his only losses when all is said and done, but that's kind of a big deal. He's a quality fighter, which is what makes this card perfect for an opener.

Scoggins, meanwhile, is a symbol for why we watch sports. He's 22 years old, which theoretically means we'll get to watch him grow up and become even better if he's truly committed. What will he look like once he reaches his potential? He's working with a good camp at American Top Team, which means a new weapon in his already versatile arsenal could be unveiled.

First off, let's talk a little about the odds. Moraga is +195, which is unreal to me. The part of Scoggins' game that gets the most publicity is his karate base. Which is fine. People long for the days when we could declare a fighter with a single victory for the belt that we had entered an "era" just because such a style seemed so eccentric. Yes, there's a little bit of Machida to Scoggin's game, who loves to use an assortment of kicks to maintain range. He throws a particularly effective side kick. But he uses his striking to set up takedowns more than anything. It's a strange mixture when you think about it: point based range striking, and top control wrestling. But it's worked so far.

However, Moraga was an NCAA Division I wrestler, and in general has a nice freestyle wrestling pedigree. I don't expect Scoggins to out wrestle Moraga, though his size could be a factor later in the bout. In other words, how will Scoggins react when he's forced to fight on the feet for as long as his opponent allows him to?

It's easy to look at Scoggins and be impressed by the shiny new object. Scoggins has earned the shine. But he's also dealing with a guy who will likely replicate Dustin Ortiz' performance against him, making the bout nip/tuck all the way through. Personally I think Scoggins has a better claim to beating Ortiz than Moraga. Outside of a few punchers, I had Ortiz winning rounds 1 and 3 against Moraga. So this is a close fight that also tells us a bit given their common opposition.

It should be said that betting wise, Moraga is a great one. However, I can't go with Moraga for the pick. I feel like we have a distorted view of his actual value: he's only ever fought the real elite, with nothing in between, giving us a distorted view of what he has to offer. Patrick Cote looked better than most guys losing to Anderson Silva but that didn't make him an elite fighter. Moraga could very well be a Cote-like fighter: solid gatekeeper, and someone who won't look foolish against even the elite.

Expect this to be very close, but I think Scoggins wins via Scoggins' Razor: all else being equal, the correct prediction is the one with youth as the more dominant component.

Plus I just think he can point fight his way to a decision.

Prediction: Justin Scoggins by Decision.

PS Bloody Elbow readers: keep the stoner rock/desert rock/doom metal recommendations coming. Really enjoying I'm the Mountain by Stoned Jesus (really?).