Alex Morono to Walk Over the ‘Moonwalker’

Alex 'The Great White' Morono

The preliminary bouts for UFC on FOX 22 this weekend feature two recycled fights from the cancelled Ricardo Lamas vs. BJ Penn card that was originally planned for October. James Moontasri vs. Alex Morono and Cole Miller vs. Mizuto Hirota were both rescheduled after Penn pulled out from the card due to an injury and I’m sure all four of these fighters are now sick of hearing their opponent’s name by now, especially after an exhausting and gruelling training camp.

I’m interested in one of these fights more than the other, especially from a value perspective – so let’s begin!

James Moontasri vs. Alex Morono

James Moontasri earned the name ‘Moonwalker’ back in his taekwondo days because of his lightning-fast kicks. Moontasri is a two-time USA Taekwondo National Champion and has an extensive arsenal of striking options in the cage, especially when he can keep the fight at ideal range.

Alex ‘The Great White’ Morono will be stepping into the UFC octagon for just the second time after previously replacing the injured Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 195. Morono went on to defeat Kyle Noke in a somewhat questionable split decision (one judge had Noke winning 30-27) on just 11 days notice, a perfect UFC debut.

Morono was very impressive in his debut fight against Noke and showed a wide array of strengths, or what I like to call ‘win-conditions’. Morono’s stand-out abilities and traits include powerful striking, both punches and kicks, smooth transitions on the ground and raw aggression. At first, I was concerned about the number of times Morono was rushing in with big overhand right hands or attempting spinning back kicks, but I then realised he didn’t fear being taken down considering he can rely on his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu if it gets to that stage.

Moontasri, on the other hand, while his stand-up is incredible by UFC standards, hasn’t shown enough techniques to convince me he can win outside of a striking matchup. While I expected his clinch game to be impressive, I was disappointed when Charles Oliveira dominated him in the clinch for the entire fight. Even worse, Moontasri showed that his purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu isn’t going to cut it at UFC level and Oliveira sliced through him like hot butter.

This fight is an interesting one to play out in your mind, and I feel like I’ve seen enough opportunities in Moontasri’s game for Morono to focus on, especially considering how easy Moontasri gave up a big overhand right in round one of his fight against Anton Zafir. That was my ‘ahh’ moment, and it clicked that one of Morono’s favourite weapons was actually an apparent weakness of Moontasri. Other indicators include Morono’s excellent ground game and aggression, which should ideally help him close the distance on the feet and not allow Moontasri to stand and strike from range. While I’m also confident that this fight will end in the first two rounds, unfortunately, the round’s total is set at 1.5, and that’s always an awkward line.

Alex Morono by KO/TKO/Submission
Odds:  +215   –  Ladbrokes

Other Preliminary Bouts

Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Paul Craig

From what I’ve seen of Paul Craig during his time at BAMMA, I wasn’t impressed. He has a couple of notable weaknesses including lack of activity/volume of striking, flinching while opponent moves forward with strikes and keeping his chin high. Luis Henrique Da Silva, on the other hand, has continually impressed me throughout his active 2016 in the UFC and has notable accomplishments including a performance of the night against Joachim Christensen. Da Silva will be too good in every aspect of the fight, and I’m expecting an early finish.

Luis Henrique Da Silva by KO/TKO/Submission
Odds:  +145   –  Ladbrokes

Bryan Barberena vs. Colby Covington

I’d expect Colby Covington to grind out a decision against Bryan Barberena, because, honestly, that’s all Covington ever does.

Colby Covington by Decision
Odds:  +105   –  Ladbrokes

Cole Miller vs. Mizuto Hirota

I’m not even nearly interested in gambling on the Cole Miller vs. Mizuto Hirota fight after Miller has continually expressed his frustration with the UFC and lack of motivation to continue training considering the inadequate monetary compensation for the cancellation back in October.

Josh Emmett vs. Scott Holtzman

Not enough value in this one. On first glance, I thought Scott Holtzman might be underrated, but Josh Emmett’s speed, footwork and accuracy might cause him troubles as the odds are rightly suggesting.

Leslie Smith vs. Irene Aldana

No opportunities here.

Tips Summary

James Moontasri vs. Alex Morono
Alex Morono by KO/TKO/Submission
Saturday 17th December, 23:30 GMT
Odds:  +215   –  Ladbrokes

Bryan Barberena vs. Colby Covington
Colby Covington by Decision
Sunday 18th December, 0:00 GMT
Odds:  +105   –  Ladbrokes

Luis Henrique Da Silva vs. Paul Craig
Luis Henrique Da Silva by KO/TKO/Submission
Sunday 18th December, 1:00 GMT
Odds:  +145   –  Ladbrokes

Alex Morono
UFC on FOX 22

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