UFC Fight Night 144 takes us to Fortaleza Brazil for one of the better Fight Night cards in recent memory. This is headlined by a very exciting Bantamweight rematch between Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes. Jose Aldo coming up against the surging Renato Moicano is also very strong as a Co-Main event. In what is sure to be an exciting night in Fortaleza, let’s preview the 3 best fights on the board.
Assuncao enters this bout currently ranked #5 in the Bantamweight division. He has been in excellent recent form winning 11 of his last 12 fights, the only loss being to TJ Dillashaw. He even beat this week’s opponent Marlon Moraes by split decision in June 2017. Known for his excellent movement and defensive ability, Assuncao will be hoping to finish a few more fights going forward.
Moraes will be looking to avenge his only loss of the past 7 years as he returns to take on Assuncao here. Having dominated the WSOF for years, he decided to make the step up to the UFC. After a first-up loss to Assuncao, he has a trio of impressive wins over John Dodson, Aljamain Sterling, and Jimmie Rivera. Known for his excellent striking ability, 15 of his 21 wins have been by finish.
Prediction: Moraes by KO/TKO at $3.75
I think Moraes is the significantly better fighter in this one and also has a huge motivational edge after last time. He has the excellent cardio and striking ability that should prove difficult for Raphael to contend with. With a full 5 rounds to get it done, this is the best value play on the board.
The legendary Brazilian currently finds himself as the #1 Featherweight contender, just behind Champion Max Holloway. Things just haven’t been the same since the McGregor fight, with Jose losing 3 of his last 5 contests. That said, he has still delivered impressive wins over Frankie Edgar and Jeremy Stephens in that time. If he’s at his best here, Jose is definitely a dangerous underdog.
The 29-year-old Brazilian enters this one with a solid 13-1-1 professional MMA record. He had a very impressive submission against Cub Swanson last time out, earning Performance of the Night honours. A loss by submission to Brian Ortega is the only negative on his resume. Known primarily for his BJJ ability, he is yet to win a fight via KO.
Prediction: Aldo to Win $2.10
Whilst Jose has always had very solid BJJ skills, he has tended to prefer to stand throughout his career. I think his excellent speed and takedown defence will be too much for Moicano here. This will allow Aldo to pick him apart on the feet and claim an underdog win.
Whilst his career peaked with a title shot in 2017, things haven’t been the same for Maia of late. His ground game just hasn’t had the same ferocity and he has lost 3 consecutive unanimous decisions. Renowned for elite BJJ skills throughout his career, it’s obvious what Maia’s game plan will be here. Hopefully, one of the UFC’s nice guys can get back on track.
The 33-year-old American makes the daunting trip to Brazil buoyed by a 20-4-1 record. He is a solid 2-1 as a member of the UFC, registering wins over Andrew Craig and Ben Saunders. Known for his rather versatile game, 13 of his 20 career wins have been by finish. He’ll definitely try to keep things on the feet against Demian.
Prediction: Maia by Submission or Points $1.65
I’m confident Demian takes this one in front of his home crowd. As always, the value with him is in a submission or decision win. Expect a controlled display from Maia here, likely finished by his vintage rear naked choke.