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Utica, New York – Saturday, June 2– 12:30 am (ET) / 4:30am (GMT)
This significant matchup between Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes has been in the making for some time now. After John Lineker withdrew from a bout with Rivera at UFC 219, Moraes offered to step up and face Rivera on short notice. However, he later changed his mind, and the fight never came to fruition.
But now, Rivera and Moraes will finally stand toe-to-toe as the UFC heads to Utica, New York, this Friday night.
Jimmie Rivera is one of the most underrated fighters on the entire UFC roster. That might sound like a bold claim, but Rivera is on a 20-fight winning streak that dates back to 2009. Since joining the UFC in 2015, he’s won all five of his fights. He grew into a top contender when he defeated Urijah Faber at UFC 203 and then backed it up in July by working past Thomas Almeida. Rivera has been calling for a shot at the UFC Bantamweight Championship for a long time now, and a win against Marlon Moraes should be enough to grant him a spot as the top contender in the division.
Marlon Moraes arrived in the UFC with plenty of hype behind him considering his time as a champion at World Series of Fighting. But in his UFC debut, he didn’t get the result he hoped for against Raphael Assuncao. After three hard-fought rounds, Assuncao proved victorious at UFC 212, and Moraes had lost any and all of his momentum. But Moraes bounced back in a big way with two consecutive wins over talented competitors John Dodson and Aljamain Sterling. The Dodson fight was a closely contested fight that ended with a split decision, and Moraes starched Sterling with a knee in round one. Now, Moraes has proved that he is the real deal and a win over Rivera will catapult him up the rankings.
There’s a lot to love about the way Rivera and Moraes match up against each other.
Rivera is a talented boxer with precise timing and excellent decision making. He stands his ground in exchanges and confidently unloads the power in his hands when required. He showed his strength and accuracy in fights against Faber and Almeida, who are two usually dangerous contenders in the division. Now, Rivera might not be as powerful or precise as someone like Cody Garbrandt (we are yet to find out), but his hands could cause all kinds of problems for someone like Moraes.
As for Moraes, he’s a dynamic fighter who has an extensive bag of tricks up his sleeve when inside the cage. His footwork is superb, and he blends his changing of angles in with sneaky feints. When it comes to grappling, Moraes is no pushover. He has excellent wrestling ability and can shrug off most takedown attempts with ease. On the mat, he tends to scramble and change positions quickly.
However, this fight will rarely make it to the ground. Both Rivera and Moraes are supremely confident in their striking abilities, and it’s just a matter of who can land with enough power first.
It’s somewhat of a coin flip, but if I’m backing someone to end the fight before the other, I’d take Rivera to get the job done inside the distance.
As expected, the odds for this fight are about as close as it gets. Jimmie Rivera is a slight favorite over Marlon Moraes and can be found at odds of 91/100 1.91 -110 0.91 -1.10 0.91 , on most sites.
If you’re looking to take Marlon Moraes, you can get him for 1/1 2.00 +100 1.00 1.00 -1.00 at BetOnline.
There isn’t a whole lot of value in taking either fighter to win this contest, considering that this is a relatively even matchup.
However, there is excellent value if you want to select this fight finishing inside the distance. So, we’ll be taking Total Rounds – Under 4.5, which seems like excellent value in a fight between two guys who have stopping power.
Bet: Total Rounds – Under 4.5 14/25 1.56 -180 0.56 -1.80 0.56 at BetOnline
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