UFC Vegas 74 is upon us this weekend, headlined by a big matchup in the smallest division; Kai Kara-France v Amir Albazi. Co-main eventing said card is an intriguing featherweight matchup between Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (what a nickname, by the way), and Daniel “The Pit” Pineda. Read on below to find our official prediction for what is sure to be a great fight.
Alex Caceres: Shakeup of featherweight rankings incoming?
If UFC 4 and Mortal Kombat somehow produced a living, breathing human byproduct, it would probably be Alex Caceres. As brilliant as a nickname like “Bruce Leeroy” is (and it IS brilliant), it actually encapsulates Caceres' personality perfectly; easygoing, friendly, extremely likeable and doesn't take himself too seriously. It's not the boldest statement in the world that Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres is a big fan favourite. In fact, Tapology rank him as No. 67 in the world.
But don't let the demeanour fool you. Like nearly every other fighter, a switch is flipped when the octagon gate bolts shut. And Alex Caceres is no different. He is dangerous, and a really varied and multi-faceted fighter too. A big chunk of his wins have come from submissions on the ground, whilst there are plenty of TKOs to boot.
Caceres also boasts a number of decision wins, something that can either be viewed as a negative, or a testament to his cardio and endurance in the cage. Either way, Caceres is an extremely experienced and skilled fighter. He has also broken into the top 15 at featherweight with a huge victory over Julian Erosa. Be under no illusion – Alex Caceres is here to keep the momentum going.
Daniel Pineda: Hoping to drop Caceres into The Pit.
This is actually Daniel Pineda's second fight in two months. A very impressive guillotine choke saw Pineda claim a win over Tucker Lutz on March 23rd (Vera v Sandhagen). Like his opponent this week, “The Pit” is coming into this contest off of a win, and therefore carrying momentum. A loss to Cub Swanson at UFC 256 actually interrupted an impressive flow of wins for Pineda in different organisations. On Saturday night, however, he will have the chance to build that momentum back up again when he takes on Alex Caceres.
Path to victory: Alex Caceres – Stay standing; stick and move
Alex Caceres, as already mentioned, is a very good all-round fighter. However, historically, his prowess has always been on the feet. His kickboxing is very, very good, and he has the height (5'10”) and reach (73.5″) to make it even more effective. Therefore, he should look to keep this fight standing, and to dictate the pace and the range with his tall frame and long limbs.
As the course of the fight progresses, Caceres should look to turn up the pace, again dictating the rhythm and flow of the fight by using his natural size and length to his advantage. Following this formula could lead to a decision win, or even present finishing opportunities if he can frustrate Pineda into rushing in.
Even if this fight hits the ground, Caceres' BJJ prowess is renowned, with submission finishes being as varied as they are plentiful. Alex Caceres has many paths he could take to win this fight, but staying on the feet is, in my view, the best one.
Path to victory: Daniel Pineda – Get it to the ground
Daniel Pineda's path to victory is less varied than that of his opponent, and is probably much clearer too – he needs to get the fight to the ground.
Now, as I said, Alex Caceres is far from a slouch on the ground – he is anything but. However, a very large majority of Daniel Pineda's victories come when the fight has hit the deck. That tells you all you need to know – Daniel Pineda is a very dangerous prospect when he is on the ground.
Given the range and length Alex Caceres possesses, Daniel Pineda is going to have to time the takedown attempts very well, or he risks getting knocked into oblivion. He averages around 1.5 takedowns every 15 minutes, so he is going to have to pick his moments, and take full advantage of them too. If he fails to take Caceres down, he risks the prospect of Caceres potentially walking him down, which he cannot afford. Plus, even if he is successful, Caceres has proven to be more than competent enough on the ground to get out of trouble.
So, who wins, then?
For me, I have “Bruce Leeroy” winning this fight. When everything is taken into consideration, there are just so many factors weighing in the favour of Caceres. If the fight stays standing, then I can't see Caceres losing that matchup. Additionally, even if the fight should go to the ground, I still see that being a 50/50 matchup, with either fighter being capably of taking the initiative and winning that matchup. Caceres is also most betting favourites, with most odds having him around -175.
Official prediction: Alex Caceres to win via unanimous decision.