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Guide to UFC on ESPN 24: Rodriguez vs. Waterson


Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC on ESPN 24.

UFC on ESPN 24

Date: May 8, 2021

Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada

Main Card

Start Time: 7:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+

Women’s Flyweights: Marina Rodriguez vs. Michelle Waterson

Overall Records: Rodriguez 14-1-2, Waterson 18-8

UFC Records: Rodriguez 3-1-2, Waterson 6-4

Last Fight: Rodriguez def. Ribas, R2 TKO, UFC 257 (1/23/21), Waterson def. Hill, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 35 (9/12/20)

Last Five Fights: Rodriguez 3-1-1, Waterson 3-2

Rankings: Rodriguez #6 (SW), Waterson #9 (SW)

Betting Odds: Rodriguez -210, Waterson +170

Preview: It wasn’t originally supposed to be the main event, but when Cory Sandhagen vs. TJ Dillashaw fell apart due to a cut on Dillashaw, UFC went scrambling for a main event, and Waterson and Rodriguez step in on less than two weeks’ notice. This isn’t a fight that came out of nowhere, as, while not yet announced, these two were scheduled to fight in the summer, but it gets pushed up with a shortened training camp for both.

Waterson returns for the first time since a September decision win over Angela Hill. That ended a two-fight losing skid, which followed a three-fight win streak. Waterson has always been right on the cusp of being in the title picture, and a win here would put her back in the hunt. Rodriguez is also in search of her second straight win after scoring a finish over Amanda Ribas on Fight Island in January. Rodriguez is one of just a handful of fighters who has had two draws inside the Octagon, leaving her with just three wins in six UFC fights, and if those had gone in her favor, she’d be 5–1 and right there on the cusp.

This is going to be an interesting battle as it’s really a big test for both at this stage of their careers. Rodriguez has shown that she has the tools to be a future title contender, but she hasn’t always fought up to her potential. She has the tendency to have some close fights that don’t always go her way, considering she has the two draws on her record and the loss to a legitimate title contender and former champion in Carla Esparza. She’s great at range striking, and she’s going to have a three-inch height and reach advantage in this one. Waterson is a tenacious fighter who has good footwork and some decent striking. She likes to use her footwork and striking to set up her grappling, and she averages 1.5 takedowns per 15 minutes. Rodriguez has had trouble with opponents who can take her down, as Esparza took her down five times, and she was taken down multiple times by Cynthia Calvillo and Randa Markos in fights that went to a draw.

The fact that this is at 125 lbs. will likely give Rodriguez an advantage, as Waterson isn’t even a huge strawweight, and she’ll likely give up some size to Rodriguez. Waterson is going to have to use her grappling, as a striking battle at range will see Rodriguez piece her up. Waterson is much better than she often gets credit for, and this would be a really big win if she’s able to pull it off. With eleven days’ notice, neither woman will likely be at their best, and Waterson’s experience edge could help her in this one. Rodriguez is a big favorite in this one, so Waterson will have some betting value. I do think Rodriguez wins this one, but it doesn’t feel as clear as it could be had they both had full training camps.

Welterweights: Donald Cerrone vs. Alex Morono

Overall Records: Cerrone 36-15 2 NC, Morono 18-7 1 NC

UFC Records: Cerrone 23-12 1 NC, Morono 7-4 1 NC

Last Fight: Cerrone NC Price, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20), Pettis def. Morono, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 41 (12/19/20)

Last Five Fights: Cerrone 0-4 1 NC, Morono 3-2

Rankings: Cerrone #15 (LW)

Betting Odds: Cerrone -190, Morono +155

Preview: Another fight that was put together on short notice, coming together the Monday of fight week, sees Cerrone trying to end his winless skid when he welcomes Morono’s short-notice challenge. Morono replaces Diego Sanchez, who was scheduled to fight Cerrone before a series of weird circumstances saw him pulled from the fight and cut by UFC. Cerrone comes into this one not having scored a win over his past five fights. He had lost four straight fights, granted the losses came to Tony Ferguson, Justin Gaethje, Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis, but his last fight also didn’t go in his favor, going to a draw with Niko Price, which Price would’ve won had he not been deducted a point. That fight was later turned to a no-contest after Price failed a drug test. Cerrone, who has said he is winding down his career, badly wants back in that win column. Morono is a tougher test at this stage than Sanchez would’ve been for him. Morono is coming off a loss to Pettis in December in a close fight. Morono had been having a string of mostly good luck prior to that fight, going 4–1 in his previous five before the Pettis fight, and he hopes to get back into the win column here.

Morono is a game fighter, but it is going to be hard to see him doing well taking the fight on just a few days’ notice. He took a fight on short notice against Pettis, and while he looked good, he faded and allowed Pettis to take over late. The big difference between that one and this one is Cerrone has had a full training camp getting ready for a fight. Cerrone has also had a long time off, at least in his standards, and he has always fought better when he’s actually taken time off. Morono is a pressure fighter who uses some good footwork and mixes his strikes well, but he won’t be able to match the striking of Cerrone. Cerrone is at this best when he’s able to pop off those kicks, whether they go to the legs, body or head. If Morono lets Cerrone get comfortable with the kicks, it could be a long night for him.

Morono has a very underrated ground game, holding a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but so does Cerrone, and Cerrone has made plenty of opponents pay for going to the ground against him, with 17 wins by submission. Despite no wins in his last five fights, Cerrone is the betting favorite in this one, and, despite the struggles, I like him to get by Morono in this one with all of the advantages he has, though Morono will be a game opponent for sure.

Welterweights: Neil Magny vs. Geoff Neal

Overall Records: Magny 24-8, Neal 13-3

UFC Records: Magny 17-7, Neal 5-1

Last Fight: Chiesa def. Magny, UDec, UFC On ESPN 20 (1/20/21), Thompson def. Neal, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 41 (12/19/20)

Last Five Fights: Magny 3-2, Neal 4-1

Rankings: Magny #9, Neal #10

Betting Odds: Magny +155, Neal -190

Preview: A welterweight bout we were supposed to see in August 2020 gets re-booked for this card as Magny and Neal both look to get back into the win column after dropping their most recent fights. They were going to fight in August, but Neal had to pull out after suffering a life-threatening illness that left him in the hospital in the ICU. Magny went on to fight, and defeat, Robbie Lawler on that August card, which ran his win streak to three. He dropped his last fight, though, being dominated by Michael Chiesa in a decision loss in January. Magny keeps getting close to title contention, always coming up short though, and he looks to start a new run here. Neal actually fought last year after that hospital stay, perhaps returning quicker than he should’ve, when he fought Stephen Thompson in a main event bout in December. Neal lost that fight by decision, as Thompson is just a hard fighter to win against, but he still looked good considering everything he had been through. It was his first UFC loss, however, ending his win streak at seven straight. He was once thought of as a future title challenger, and a win here would get him back on track to accomplishing that.

One of the first things that will be noticeable in this fight is Magny’s height and reach advantage. He will have four inches in height and five inches in reach over Neal, and he knows how to utilize both. Neal is the better striker of the two, but Magny knows how to use his length and striking to set up his grappling attacks, and he likes to work in the clinch against the fence and land punishing elbows and knees, as well as foot stomps. Magny is easier to hit than Thompson, so Neal should be able to find openings here. Neal does have a 92% takedown defense rate, so Magny might not be able to get him down, and Neal can landing punishing short-range strikes. Neal also has a 61% striking defense, and he lands nearly five significant strikes per minute. Magny has been finished twice in UFC, and Neal fights a lot like someone who has finished Magny, and that is Lorenz Larkin, and Neal is a more talented version of him.

Neal is the slight betting favorite, and while I like him to win this fight, Magny is plenty capable of winning and making a run. I just think Neal’s style is a bad match-up for Magny, and Neal is going to find plenty of openings with either left hands or a high kick, and his grappling acumen will be able to keep Magny at bay. Whether by stoppage or decision, I like Neal a lot in this.

Heavyweights: Maurice Greene vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Overall Records: Greene 9-5, Rogerio de Lima 17-7-1

UFC Records: Greene 4-3, Rogerio de Lima 6-5

Last Fight: Hardy def. Greene, R2 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 39 (10/31/20), Romanov def. Rogerio de Lima, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN 17 (11/7/20)

Last Five Fights: Greene 2-3, Rogerio de Lima 2-3

Betting Odds: Greene +160, Rogerio de Lima -200

Preview: A pair of heavyweights looking to bounce back from losses square off as Greene battles Rogerio de Lima in this main card bout. Greene is looking to rebound from a second-round TKO loss to Greg Hardy in October, a stoppage he was furious about afterwards. It was a bad loss for Greene, as he looked good early. Greene was on season 28 of TUF, and he won his first three UFC bouts, but has since dropped three of his last four and could be fighting for his roster spot here. Rogerio de Lima won his UFC debut in May 2014, but has since rotated wins-and-losses over his past ten fights after that debut win and subsequent win after, and he’s coming in off of a first-round submission loss to Alexandr Romanov in November. History would dictate that Rogerio de Lima is due for a win in this one, but that is easier said than done.

Greene is a massive heavyweight, as he will hold a six-inch height advantage and a five-inch reach advantage. Despite his physical advantages, he doesn’t always fight up to his ability, and Rogerio de Lima has plenty of chances to take advantage. Rogerio de Lima would be wise to take the fight to the mat, where he will have the clear edge. Greene has shown he isn’t capable of getting out from being stuck on the bottom, though Rogerio de Lima doesn’t have the most threatening of ground games- that is just how bad Greene is on the ground. Rogerio de Lima does have some pop in his punches, and Greene doesn’t have the best striking. This one will likely have an explosive finish, and I see Rogerio de Lima being the one coming out victorious.

Lightweights: Diego Ferreira vs. Gregor Gillespie

Overall Records: Ferreira 17-3, Gillespie 13-1

UFC Records: Ferreira 8-3, Gillespie 6-1

Last Fight: Dariush def. Ferreira, SpDec, UFC On ESPN+ 42 (2/6/21), Lee def. Gillespie, R1 KO, UFC 244 (11/2/19)

Last Five Fights: Ferreira 4-1, Gillespie 4-1

Rankings: Ferreira #12, Gillespie #14

Betting Odds: Ferreira +150, Gillespie -185

Preview: An exciting lightweight bout, in what may be the best fight on the card, sees ranked fighters Ferreira and Gillespie battle to get back into the win column. Ferreira is coming into this having dropped a decision to Beneil Dariush in February, which ended his six-fight win streak. A win could’ve seen him, not Dariush, matched up with Tony Ferguson next, and now Ferreira is motivated to get back into the title picture with a win here. Gillespie is finally returning after having his head punted into the nosebleed seats in Madison Square Garden by Kevin Lee in November 2019. It was his first career loss after starting his career 13–0. He was supposed to return in March against Brad Riddell, but that bout was cancelled the day of the fight due to COVID protocols, and now Gillespie is instead returning against a ranked opponent in search of his 14th career win.

Gillespie is arguably the best wrestler at 155 lbs. now that Khabib Nurmagomedov has officially retired, and his wrestling is so good that not a single opponent has ever even attempted to take him down. Ferreira has an outstanding ground game, but Gillespie’s wrestling and his offense from the top is so good that Ferreira might not be able to get much going on the ground. Ferreira isn’t much of a takedown artist, anyways, but his submission attacks are always a big-time threat, and he does have seven wins by submission. When it comes to the feet, Gillespie is likely the better overall striker, though his chin is a question after the massive head kick he took from Lee that put his lights out. He has taken plenty of time off since that fight, since he didn’t want to rush back from such a brutal knockout. Ferreira was on a roll until Dariush showed the way to beat him, which is with the wrestling, and Gillespie is a far better wrestler than Dariush is. Ferreira may be higher-ranked, but this feels more like a bounce back fight for Gillespie, and I like him to win this.

Women’s Strawweights: Amanda Ribas vs. Angela Hill

Overall Records: Ribas 10-2, Hill 13-9

UFC Records: Ribas 4-1, Hill 8-9

Last Fight: Rodriguez def. Ribas, R2 TKO, UFC 257 (1/23/21), Hill def. Yoder, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 45 (3/13/21)

Last Five Fights: Ribas 4-1, Hill 3-2

Rankings: Ribas #11, Hill #12

Betting Odds: Ribas -185, Hill +150

Preview: The main card opener is a strawweight battle that sees Ribas and Hill both looking to get into the top-te, with a win here. Ribas comes into this fight after suffering her first loss as a member of UFC’s roster, when she was finished in the second round by Marina Rodriguez at UFC 257 in January. It ended her win streak at five straight, the last four of which came as a member of the roster. She was ranked inside the top-ten prior to that fight, and a win here could get her back inside the top-ten. Hill, one of the most active fighters in the sport, looks to score her second straight win after a decision win over Ashley Yoder in March. Hill had a busy 2020, scoring two wins before the pandemic started, but suffered two split decision losses to Claudia Gadelha and Michelle Waterson, both fights that could’ve gone her way, during the pandemic. She was supposed to compete a few other times, but COVID changed things up, and she looks to get her second straight win here.

This feels like a bad match-up for Hill. Ribas’ one flaw that she’s shown inside the Octagon was that a power punch can put her down. She was winning early against Rodriguez, but left her chin out there just enough for Rodriguez to take advantage. Fortunately for Ribas, Hill is more of a volume striker than a power striker, so Ribas should be able to weather any storm. Ribas is also the more athletic fighter of the two, and her grappling will be a key in this one. Ribas is good at getting opponents down, especially from in the clinch, and her top game is pretty stifling as she’s great at keeping opponents pinned to the mat. Hill does like to battle in the clinch, where she can lands knees and elbows, but it also allows her to get taken down. Ribas has great striking defense, and Hill does tend to get hit quite often, though she lands far more than she gets hit. Hill is going to need to be patient and fight at a distance, as if she allows Ribas to get too close, the tide will turn in Ribas’ favor. Ribas isn’t a big double-leg takedown artist, preferring to use trips in the clinch to get foes down.

This is a big fight for both, and it really looks like the last chance Hill has to make a run towards title contention. Too bad for her she gets the better fighter in Ribas, and one who is just as hungry to make a title run. I like Ribas to get a decision win in this one.

Preliminary Card

Start Time: 5:00 p.m. ET, 2:00 p.m. PT

Where To Watch: ESPN+

Heavyweights: Ben Rothwell vs. Philipe Lins

Overall Records: Rothwell 38-13, Lins 14-5

UFC Records: Rothwell 8-7, Lins 0-2

Last Fight: Tybura def. Rothwell, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/10/20), Boser def. Lins, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN 12 (6/27/20)

Last Five Fights: Rothwell 2-3, Lins 3-2

Betting Odds: Rothwell -110, Lins -110

Preview: A heavyweight bout that was expected to originally take place in March, but was pushed back due to an injury to Rothwell, highlights the prelims here. Rothwell is looking to rebound from a loss in his last appearance, when Marcin Tybura scored a decision over him in Abu Dhabi. That ended a two-fight win streak Rothwell was on. This will be Rothwell’s 52nd career fight, and in his 38 wins, 34 have come by stoppage. Lins makes his third appearance inside the Octagon, and he’s still in search of his first UFC win after dropping his first two. He lost a decision to Andrei Arlovksi in his debut, and was then knocked out by Tanner Boser in the first round in his last fight in June. Lins will be looking to improve on a record that has seen him finish opponents in 12 of his 14 wins, but he’s also been knocked out in four of his five losses.

This is kind of a battle between underachievers in UFC, as Rothwell and Lins were both expected to be top-ten fighters in title contention. Rothwell was there at one point, but issues with USADA and inactivity have taken him away from that spot, and it is unlikely he’ll get back there. Lins has just overall been a disappointment, and a third straight loss could signal the end of his UFC run. Rothwell is going to have a distinct size advantage in this one, and he should use it to his edge. Rothwell lands some hard shots, and Lins might have a suspect chin after the Boser fight. Both men get hit more than they land, but Rothwell can take a punch better. I’m not expecting this to be some exciting fight, as it has the chance to be a boring one, and I’m surprised it’s close on the betting odds, essentially a pick ’em. I think Rothwell wins this one fairly convincingly, and Lins is on his way out of UFC just as quick as he made it there.

Middleweights: Phil Hawes vs. Kyle Daukaus

Overall Records: Hawes 10-2, Daukaus 10-1

UFC Records: Hawes 2-0, Daukaus 1-1

Last Fight: Hawes def. Imavov, MajDec, UFC On ESPN+ 43 (2/20/21), Daukaus def. Stoltzfus, UDec, UFC 255 (11/21/20)

Last Five Fights: Hawes 5-0, Daukaus 4-1

Betting Odds: Hawes +110, Daukaus -130

Preview: A middleweight bout between two prospects poised for big things in the future in UFC takes place here as Hawes looks to remain undefeated in UFC when he takes on Daukaus. Hawes is looking to extend his six-fight win streak, of which the last two have come since he signed with UFC. He had an 18-second knockout of Jacob Malkoun in his debut, and scored a decision over Nassourdine Imavov in his last fight. Daukaus is looking to score his second straight win after scoring a decision over Dustin Stoltzfus at UFC 255 in November, which was his first UFC win. He lost his debut to Brendan Allen, which is the only blemish on his record, and eight of Daukaus’ ten career wins have come by submission.

Hawes is a division one wrestler who has shown good takedowns so far during his MMA career, but he also has some power in his hands. When he’s unable to land the punches, he utilizes leg kicks to set up the takedowns. Going to the ground with Daukaus may be dangerous due to Daukaus having the eight submission wins, and Daukaus does defend 94% of takedowns attempted on him. Hawes does tend to get hit way too often, and while Daukaus hasn’t really scared anyone with his striking, it’s not like it’s a huge detriment to him. This may come down to a takedown battle, which I slightly favor Hawes in, but Daukaus’ submission game is something that will be worth watching. This is such a great match-up between two guys with lots of potential, though I see the ceiling being higher for Hawes right now. This could really go to either guy, but I think Hawes wins a close decision in this one.

Featherweights: Ludovit Klein vs. Michael Trizano

Overall Records: Klein 17-2, Trizano 8-1

UFC Records: Klein 1-0, Trizano 2-1

Last Fight: Klein def. Young, R1 KO, UFC 253 (9/26/20), Dawson def. Trizano, R2 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 10 (5/18/19)

Last Five Fights: Klein 5-0, Trizano 4-1

Betting Odds: Klein -265, Trizano +210

Preview: A featherweight battle featuring two prospects takes place here as Klein enters the Octagon for the second time against a former TUF winner in Trizano. Klein will be competing in his 20th professional fight, and he is looking for his 18th career win, and to extend his eight-fight win streak. He debuted on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi in September, scoring a first-round TKO of Shane Young at UFC 253. Klein is an exciting fighter with a 94% finish rate. Trizano was the lightweight winner of TUF 27, defeating Joe Giannetti in the finals, and he scored a win in his first post-TUF fight over Luis Pena. He was submitted by Grant Dawson in his last fight, which was his first career loss, and returns after a nearly two-year layoff due to injuries.

Klein is going to have a significant edge on the feet as he’s very quick on the feet and has some serious power. He has eight wins by knockout, but also eight wins by submission, so don’t just think he’s good on the feet- he’s good everywhere. Trizano is coming off the long layoff, and it will be interesting to see the improvements he’s made. He got thrashed by Dawson in his last fight, though Dawson is a beast, but it showed he has a lot of room to grow. Trizano won’t scare anyone with his takedown threats, and he will likely use them as feints to land something good on the feet. Klein’s big battle might come against the scales, as he did miss weight for his last fight. However, everything about this fight screams that it is Klein’s fight to lose, and I don’t think he will.

Flyweights: Ryan Benoit vs. Zarrukh Adashev

Overall Records: Benoit 10-7, Adashev 3-3

UFC Records: Benoit 3-5, Adashev 0-2

Last Fight: Elliott def. Benoit, UDec, UFC On ESPN 13 (7/15/20), Mudaerji def. Adashev, UDec, UFC On ESPN 20 (1/20/21)

Last Five Fights: Benoit 2-3, Adashev 3-2

Betting Odds: Benoit -150, Adashev +125

Preview: A flyweight bout between two guys who could be fighting for their position on UFC’s roster sees Benoit and Adashev squaring off. Benoit fights for the first time since July, when he suffered a decision loss to Tim Elliott. It was his second straight defeat, and Benoit has never really been able to get momentum going in UFC, as he’s never been on a win streak and has just three wins in eight UFC fights. He does have a 90% finish rate, including a finish of Sergio Pettis in his career. Adashev is looking for his first UFC win in his third Octagon appearance, and is looking to get above the .500 mark in his career. Adashev was finished in his UFC debut by Tyson Nam, then dropped a decision to Su Mudaerji in his last fight. He’s got lots of kickboxing experience, but this will be only his seventh MMA fight, and two of his three wins have been by stoppage. Adashev has been disappointing during his UFC tenure, though the same could be said for Benoit.

Many thought Adashev would take the division by storm with his solid striking, but he just hasn’t shown whether his kickboxing skills will follow him over to the MMA side. We know he’ll want to keep the fight on the feet, and Benoit will happily oblige him there. Benoit does have some power in his hands, but Adashev is likely to be the one to push the pace, especially now that he’s taking on an opponent who is more his size. Benoit could be the one to threaten with takedowns, though he isn’t all that great in that department. This one likely stays on the feet and will come down to who can land better. Both are in must-win territory, and this one could be exciting as they’ll leave it all in the Octagon. It really could go either way, though, if I had to pick, I lean slightly towards Benoit, just because he is more proven at this point.

Middleweights: Jun Yong Park vs. Tafon Nchukwi

Overall Records: Park 12-4, Nchukwi 5-0

UFC Records: Park 2-1, Nchukwi 1-0

Last Fight: Park def. Phillips, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20), Nchukwi def. Pickett, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 41 (12/19/20)

Last Five Fights: Park 4-1, Nchukwi 5-0

Betting Odds: Park +115, Nchukwi -140

Preview: A middleweight bout featuring a big-time prospect takes place here as Park looks to hand Nchukwi his first career loss. Park is looking to score his third straight win after back-to-back decision wins over Marc-Andre Barriault and John Phillips. In the win over Phillips, Park set the new UFC record for most ground strikes, landing 258 ground strikes in the one-sided win. Park has scored eight of his twelve career wins by stoppage. Nchukwi will be fighting in only his sixth career fight, but he’s one of the bright prospects in the sport. He looks like an absolute freak, very muscular, and you’re left wondering how he makes 185 lbs. He started his career with four knockout wins, including on the Contender Series to earn his UFC contract, and he debuted with a decision win over Jamie Pickett in December, where he showed his well-rounded skills.

This is going to come down to how much Nchukwi has improved since his last fight. There’s only so much improvement that can be shown in the gym, it has to be shown inside the cage. He is a physical specimen, and he has a lot of power, but he is a slow and plodding fighter. Park might have the technical edge in the striking, but Nchukwi does land nearly eight significant strikes per minute. Park may be best served getting Nchukwi to the mat, but that might be a tough task due to Nchukwi’s size. I’m one of those very high on the potential of Nchukwi, and this is a tough fight for him to take as Park has good boxing and good wrestling. This is going to show whether Nchukwi can be a threat, or whether he has some ways to go to get into the top half of the division. I do think Nchukwi will win this.

Welterweights: Christian Aguilera vs. Carlston Harris

Overall Records: Aguilera 14-7, Harris 15-4

UFC Records: Aguilera 1-1, Harris 0-0

Last Fight: Brady def. Aguilera, R2 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 33 (8/29/20), Harris def. Izagakhmaev, R2 SUB, UAE Warriors 15 (1/15/21)

Last Five Fights: Aguilera 3-2, Harris 4-1

Betting Odds: Aguilera +130, Harris -155

Preview: The opening fight on the card sees the lone debuting fighter on the card as Aguilera welcomes Harris to UFC. Aguilera makes his third UFC appearance, and he’s looking to rebound from a loss to Sean Brady in August. It ended a three-fight win streak, which included a UFC debut win over Anthony Ivy. Aguilera has a 79% finish rate during his career, but he’s also been finished five times. Harris debuts after being signed off an impressive showing in front of Dana White in Abu Dhabi in January. It was his third straight win and his eighth win by stoppage, and he holds pre-UFC wins over current UFC fighters Michel Pereira and Wellington Turman.

Harris’ biggest strength was shown to be arguably Aguilera’s biggest weakness, and that is the ground game. Aguilera got suffocated by Brady in his last fight, though Harris isn’t as good on the mat as Brady is. However, Harris is plenty capable of getting Aguilera down to the mat and keeping him there. Harris also has a fantastic gas tank, so a long grappling battle shouldn’t wear him down much. Aguilera is better on the feet, as he has advantages in power and technique, but Harris will be the one pressing the action and looking to clinch early. Harris’ grappling is far better than Aguilera’s striking, and that will play the difference in this fight, as I think Harris grinds out a decision to kick off the card.

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