Sooo … About Last Night

by Site Admin ~ February 25th, 2024

UFC Fight Night: Moreno vs Royval 2
Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Last night (Sat., Feb. 24, 2024), Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ventured forth to Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico for UFC Mexico City. From top-to-bottom, Mexican talent was on display! Atop the card, Brandon Moreno aimed to get back into the Flyweight title mix by taking out Brandon Royval a second time, while Yair Rodriguez and Brian Ortega both aimed to score second title shots. While the altitude definitely took its toll on the athletes, the crowd remained lively until the final bell!

Let’s take a look back over at UFC Mexico City’s best performances and techniques:

UFC Fight Night: Moreno vs Royval 2 Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

An Understated Main Event

Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval 2 was … okay.

Royval did most of what he usually does. The Southpaw threw a ton of strikes, trying to sneak the biggest connections behind a whirlwind of half-power punches. His left kick and left knee were his best weapons of the fight, and compared to his last bout, his ability to scramble up after being taken down looked significantly improved. Sadly, his landing percentage here was abysmal — so, so many of his punches bounced pointlessly off Moreno’s high guard.

Unfortunately, this was the worst version of Moreno we’ve seen in recent memory. He wanted to be a counter fighter here, which has certainly worked for previous Royval opponents, but he sacrificed so much of his greatness in the process! Where was the jab? The combinations? The boxing in general? Moreno spent most of the fight loading up on huge left hook and overhand swings for no real reason. He would’ve landed far more often with straighter punches. The only technical angle I liked from Moreno was the addition of the lead leg low kick that followed his right hand late in the fight, but that should’ve been in the game plan three rounds earlier.

Despite my critique, I actually thought Moreno deserved the nod for landing the most damaging shots. Ultimately though, it was an impressive performance from neither man, and I hope altitude can explain away the off night.

UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez v Ortega Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The Return Of Third-Round Ortega

For a little while, Yoel Romero and Brian Ortega were the two most fearsome men in the world in the third round of UFC fights. Though both were scoring finishes in that final frame, the methodology was different. “The Soldier Of God” liked to take the first round off, slowly heating up before unleashing his athleticism on his fatigued opponent late.

Ortega has never had that luxury. He’s not gifted with super natural speed and explosiveness like the Cuban. He is, however, absurdly tough and well-conditioned, able to take any measure of beating and still remain uniquely opportunistic late in the fight.

Yair Rodriguez really came close to getting Ortega out of there in the first. Damn close, in fact. He stunned Ortega badly on the knockdown blow and followed it up with a bunch of concussive shots to the skull. When Ortega regained his feet, Rodriguez destroyed his liver with snapping kicks, threw him to the floor, and drilled his face with accurate ground strikes.

When the finish didn’t come, however, the outcome seemed guaranteed. Ortega continued to pour on the pressure, started finding his way into top position, and his success snowballed. He smashed Rodriguez with ground-and-pound in the second, and the submission came effortlessly in the third.

It’s good to have “T-City” back in action. Featherweight is more fun with him involved!

UFC Fight Night: Zellhuber v Prado Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

You Don’t Need Your Eye!

Francisco Prado’s coach dropped my favorite quote of the evening, advising his young athlete to wrestle and herd Daniel Zellhuber towards the fence despite his destroyed eye. It’s not quite “Hit him with your groin!” status, but it was amusing. Unfortunately for Prado, his face and the final punch count seem to indicate that vision is indeed helpful in combat sports.

UFC Fight Night: Torres v Duncan Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

A Lightweight Freight Train

Manuel Torres’ 106-second rear naked choke win over Chris Duncan was a ridiculous showcase of dynamic athleticism. It also really explained all those first-round finishes on the Mexican prospect’s record!

Immediately, Torres fired a huge right hand … that was countered with a powerful swing from Duncan. When Duncan advanced, Torres stood his ground and kicked him in the head! The two began to wrestle, and I don’t want to imply that Torres’ takedowns were particularly technical … but they were effective!

“El Loco” was pretty much just securing a grip on his opponent, any grip, and then throwing him through the air. Torres was absolutely sprinting, which is a risky strategy at altitude, except it worked! He found his way to the back off a big slam, and Torres just forced the choke through Duncan’s defenses.

He’ll have to develop his skills a bit to compete with the best at 155 pounds, but still, it’s hard not to be impressed with Torres here.

UFC Fight Night: Quinonez v Barcelos Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

A Veteran Performance

Despite being unranked, Raoni Barcelos is a standout Bantamweight.

The 36-year-old Brazilian proved his talent right away upon joining the UFC roster, putting together a highly entertaining five-fight win streak. Unfortunately, the upper echelon of 135-pounds is a shark tank, and Barcelos hasn’t quite managed to ascend up the ladder. More to the point, Barcelos had lost four of his last five heading into this bout opposite Cristian Quinonez.

The stakes were high! A dislocated shoulder in the first round (quickly popped back in by his corner before the second) didn’t help his odds, nor did the simple fact that Quinonez was fighting well.

In fact, both men brought their A game into the cage. Barcelos was timing his takedowns well and utilizing tricky right hand set ups to score with power, but Quinonez threw a ton of volume and just kept advancing. In addition, “Problema” proved himself excellent at scrambling, returning to his feet almost instantly after many takedowns.

Barcelos’ ability to keep it technical in the third — when both were fatigued — ended up making the difference. Making the most of his experience edge, Barcelos’ counters started landing more often as his foe tried to force a brawl, and he used a trip takedown to slam Quinonez in awkward position. Once again, Quinonez tried to scramble up, but finally Barcelos was able to lock down position by jumping on the back immediately.

The choke came moments later, concluding a fun fight.

UFC Fight Night: Chairez v Lacerda Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Additional Thoughts

  • Edgar Chairez defeats Daniel Lacerda via first-round triangle choke: Lacerda’s historic run comes to an end. The Brazilian entered tonight’s rematch with a 0-4 (1) UFC record, as well as a reputation for falling apart after the first round. Alas, Lacerda scored an early takedown and fell right into a triangle choke well before the opening five minutes came to a close! That’s almost surely the end of his UFC career, whereas Chairez officially picks up the first UFC win of his career.
  • Luis Rodríguez defeats Denys Bondar via second-round rear naked choke (HIGHLIGHTS): Bondar may have been the altitude’s first victim of the evening. He started strong, dinging Rodriguez with some heavy shots and winning the early wrestling exchanges. He even landed a huge spinning elbow! Midway through the second, however his gas tank began to run out, and Rodriguez reversed fortunes by taking the back mount and locking in a rear naked choke.

For complete UFC Mexico City: “Moreno vs. Royval 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE! – All Posts

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