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Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen


This week the main event from UFC’s Fight Island is a bantamweight bout, but it’s in the ultra-competitive men’s division championed by Russian Petr Yan. Now that we’re abroad again, the flavor of these fights turns international, the matchups become more diverse in fighting specialty and, as we saw from the first set of cards from Fight Island, future stars can be made in 15 minutes or less.

This card will have 13 scheduled bouts featuring fighters from 14 countries.

Cory Sandhagen -128 vs. Marlon Moraes + 108, bantamweight (135 pounds), main event

Moraes is the No. 1-ranked bantamweight contender, though he is not a top-4 combatant in this division, in my handicapping. A black belt in Muay Thai and BJJ, Moraes complements his well-rounded fighting arsenal with quickness, explosion and precision striking. Devastating are the results of Moraes’ strikes and spinning kicks, especially early in fights.

Moraes has fought the top of the division, and his results against ranked fighters have produced consistent results. He is highly effective early, as opponents find it difficult to withstand his aggressive offensive onslaught. But later in fights, he fades badly.

The key to overcoming Moraes is to withstand that early barrage and force him to fight a full three rounds. In Saturday’s case, it’s going to be five rounds. In Moraes’ previous five-round bout, he was painting Henry Cejudo’s fence early until he ran out of steam. Cejudo finished him late in the third round.

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