-265 #9 Maryna Moroz (7-1) vs. +225 Danielle Taylor (7-1)
Maryna Moroz: 24 year old Ukrainian Maryna Moroz has looked like a bonafide contender in her first three UFC bouts. 2-1 and currently ranked #9 in the strawweight division, Moroz will be knocking on the door of the division’s top five with a win against new comer Danielle Taylor.
“The Iron Lady” started as a Boxer at 13 and transitioned to mma when she had trouble finding boxing matches in her native Poland. Moroz may have began her career as boxer but she has evolved into a well rounded, new breed fighter, demonstrated by her five submission victories to go along with her elite striking.
Danielle Taylor: 26 year old Danielle Taylor will make her debut on only two weeks notice. She got the call last week when Justine Kish had to pull out of this bout due to a broken finger.
Taylor is the current King of the Cage Strawweight champion and all of her eight professional bouts have taken place in the California based promotion. She is a muay thai practitioner and is one of the few women’s strawweights with knockout power, finishing three of her seven wins by way of the knockout.
The Fight: The 5’0″ Taylor will be at a serious size disadvantage to 5’7″ Moroz. Much of Taylor success involves landing hard single shots in close. Against Moroz, Taylor will have a very difficult time closing the distance and will eat a knockout blow in her attempts. Moroz Knockout 1st
+115 Trevor Smith (13-6) vs. -135 Joe Gigliotti (7-0)
Trevor Smith: “Hot Sauce” is coming off of the biggest win of his career over Dan Miller in July of 2015. Smith is a six fight UFC veteran with a 3-3 record under his belt. Since joining the promotion he has had the Ross Pearson pattern of winning one, then losing one in his first six.
Smith is a scrappy wrestler with better than average submissions, his strength is his strength, when he is unable to overpower his opponents he runs into trouble in the striking realm.
Joe Gigliotti: 22 year old Gigliotti trains with Aaron Simpson and Co. at Arizona’s Power MMA. His 7-0 record is all comprised of stoppages, three by knockout and four by submission.
“Capo” is an explosive wrestler and striker with deadly submissions, but at 5’11” his stocky frame may be better suited for the welterweight division. The outcome of this fight will give us a much clearer picture of what Gigliotti’s future will look like.
The Fight: Smith is a strong rangy welterweight who leans on his opponents to tire them out before securing take downs. On paper this is a bad match up for the much smaller Gigliotti, but Smith’s questionable chin (4 KO/TKO losses) in combination with Gigliotti’s power, will add up to the introduction of a new contender, who hopefully drops to welterweight. Gigliotti Knockout 1st
Santiago Ponzinibbio (23-3) vs. Zak Cummings (19-4)
Santiago Ponzinibbio: “The Argentinian” as he was known as on TUF Brazil 2, has become another one of the many stars to be churned out of the worldwide reality series. Ponzinibbio is coming off of the biggest win of his career a first round knockout of Court McGee.
Ponizinibbio’s muay thai is some of the best in the division and his all around game is greatly improving under the guidance of the ATT Coconut Creek coaching staff. Overall the future looks bright for this 29 year old.
Zak Cummings: Cummings has slowly crept into the contenders picture in the welterweight division, going 4-1 in his UFC bouts, he is a fight or two from cracking the division’s top 15. Cummings has recently been training in the soon to be very crowded ATT Evolution gym in St.Louis with newly crowned welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Cummings is a blue collar fighter with a solid all around game, but has fallen short in his fights against top tier competition. In this fight he will be looking to buck his can crusher label and get a signature win on his resume.
The Fight: Ponzinibbio is going to have a substantial advantage on the feet if they chose to strike, but Cummings has a pretty high fight IQ and knows his best chance at victory in this one will be on the mat.
Cummings will put Ponzinibbio’s improving wrestling game to the test and I predict his take down defense will hold up. Ponzinibbio will be able to score enough on the feet to negate any take downs Cummings scores. Ponzinibbio Unanimous Decision
-163 #12 Thales Leites (25-6) vs. +143 Chris Camozzi (24-10)
Thales Leites: Former contender for Anderson Silva’s middleweight crown, Thales Leites has had quite a few ups and downs in his UFC career. 10-5 in his octagon performances, he has lost his last two to middleweight’s top dog Michael Bisping and Gegard Mousasi.
Leites is only 34 and has over a decade of experience in the UFC., he has a few more competitive fights at the highest level left in him, but his skills are too diminished to compete with the best of the division.
Chris Camozzi: Camozzi is currently in this third stint in the UFC. 3-1 in his last four Camozzi is coming off of a huge win over TUF Brazil 2 runner up Vitor Miranda.
Camozzi has put together a few runs in the UFC but has faltered when he came up against ranked opponents. At 29 this is Camozzi’s best opportunity to crack the top 15 for the first time in his career.
The Fight: Leites has added knockout power to his arsenal recently, but in this fight he would be smart to go back to his BJJ roots. Camozzi will have the striking advantage, he will take the first round with superior footwork, but mid way through the second Leites will drop Camozzi and follow him down where he will sink in a RNC. Leites RNC 2nd
-250 #8 Dennis Bermudez (16-5) vs. +210 Rony Jason (16-5)
Dennis Bermudez: Dennis “The Menace” is working his way back into title contention, Bermudez started his UFC career with a seven fight win streak before falling to Ricardo Lamas and Jeremy Stephens in consecutive fights. He regained some momentum in his last bout when he dominated Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Bermudez is coming in to his fighting prime at 29 and has lights-out power to go along with elite mma wrestling. His recent training with mma coach extraordinaire Ryan Parsons will continue to grow his game and tighten up his striking skills.
Rony Jason: TUF Brazil featherweight champ Rony Jason would be 5-2 in the UFC but had his last victory against Damon Martin overturned to a no contest, due to a illegal diuretic being found in his system.Coming off of a nine month suspension, this is a huge opportunity in a co-main event slot, a highlight reel knockout in this one could easily make Rony Jason a household name in the mma world.
Jason is a dynamic, creative striker who can end a fight with all of his limbs, as well as a dangerous submission threat from the top or bottom. Jason’s failure to diversify his training outside of Brazil may hold him back from taking the next step in his career.
The Fight: Bermudez and Jason share a 16-5 record, but Bermudez’s has fought the much tougher opposition. Jason has the striking prowess to finish this fight, but once Bermudez taste’s Jason’s power he will revert back to his wrestling instincts and grind out the Brazilian. Bermudez Unanimous Decision
-275 #13 Yair Rodriguez (8-1) vs. +235 Alex Caceres (12-8-0 1 NC)
Yair Rodriguez: “El Pantera” may be the most highly touted prospect to ever emerge from the TUF series. Since winning TUF Latin America in 2014, Yair has lit the featherweight division up, he’s 3-0 including a knockout of the year candidate finish of Team Alpha Male’s Andre Filli in his last bout.
Rodriguez is clearly being set up for super stardom, not many fighters are pegged as headliners in their third promotional fight. He is the total package and at only 23 years old this Jackson/Winklejohn fighter’s future is extremely bright.
Alex Caceres: “Bruce Leeroy” is coming off of a huge win over the heavily favored veteran Cole Miller. The win was a much needed momentum builder for Caceres, whose 7-6 UFC record contains many highs and lows. Caceres will be attempting to put together his first three fight win streak in the UFC and break into the top 15 for the first time.
Caceres has clearly been brought in as a showcase opponent for the uber prospect Rodriguez. With nothing to lose, Caceres should be able to open up with his striking and get creative, providing a good show for the fans if nothing else.
The Fight: This should be a much closer contested fight than many assume, Caceres has faced a lot of high level strikers and will be well prepared for Rodriguez’s striking arsenal. However as the fight goes into the later rounds Yair will find a home for his shin on Caceres’s jaw, further launching this youngster’s star into the stratosphere. Rodriguez Knockout 4th