Thursday, April 18, 2024

UFC Fight Night Mexico City prediction — Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval: Card, odds, start time, stream

Brandon Moreno has a lot on the line returning home to Mexico. Moreno pursues his first UFC win on home soil and auditions for another flyweight title shot. He’ll need to overcome Brandon Royval fighting with a chip on his shoulder. Moreno vs. Royval headlines UFC Fight Night in Mexico City on Saturday.

Moreno (21-7-2) will compete for the first time in four years without an undisputed or interim UFC flyweight title at stake. Moreno has emerged as one of MMA’s best flyweights, but consistency has been an issue. He’s 3-2-1 across title fights anchored by a four-fight trilogy against Deiveson Figueiredo. The future looked bright after putting Figueiredo behind him, but a split decision loss to Alexandre Pantoja was a major setback. Beating Royval on Saturday could clinch him another title shot in what would be Moreno’s first UFC win in Mexico following a previous loss to Sergio Pettis and a draw against Askar Askarov.

“I feel a little bit frustrated because I want to put that on my legacy,” Moreno said at Wednesday’s media day. “Raise my hand in front of my people, in front of my Mexican flag. That’s it. It’s something that happened in the past, and I just try to turn the page. It’s frustrating, but I’ve been living with a lot of pressure since 2020, fighting for championships and rematches and the trilogies.”

Royval (15-7) is looking to remedy a few things as well. Royval is also coming off a title loss to Pantoja, losing a one-sided unanimous decision in his first title fight at UFC 296. Royval was excited to fill in for Amir Albazi on one month’s notice, looking to wash a bad taste out of his mouth and avenge his 2020 TKO loss to Moreno.

“I’m really glad they gave me this fight. I’m glad I got this opportunity because I definitely needed this,” Royval said. “I definitely needed something to motivate me to get the sour taste out of my mouth and get me back out of my funk.

“I just want to show the world what I can do, and I feel like I’ve yet to do that. That Pantoja fight, I’m like, ‘This is it. This time I’m going to show the world what I can actually do and my actual skillset.’ It just did not happen. I feel like this is another great opportunity against a fighter who is going to bring it at all costs.”

Saturday’s card is Mexico vs. the world. All six main card fights feature a fighter waving the Mexican flag. The most intriguing is a five-round co-main event pitting Yair Rodriguez vs. Brian Ortega. The dynamic strikers meet in a rematch of their 2022 fight. Their previous encounter ended prematurely after Ortega suffered a nasty shoulder injury late into Round 1. Ortega returns for the first time against the last man he faced. Rodriguez captured the interim featherweight championship after fighting Ortega, but coming off a failed title unification fight against Alexander Volkanovski. The winner of Rodriguez vs. Ortega could put themselves within reach of a title shot against new featherweight champion Ilia Topuria. Popular 19-year-old fighter Raul Rosas Jr. is also on the card.

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Favorite Underdog Weight class
Brandon Moreno -290 Brandon Royval +235 Flyweight
Yair Rodriguez -155 Brian Ortega +130 Featherweight
Daniel Zellhuber -280 Francisco Prado +230 Lightweight
Raul Rosas Jr. -230 Rick Turcios +190 Bantamweight
Yazmin Jauregui -550 Sam Hughes +400 Women’s strawweight
Manuel Torres -190 Chris Duncan +160 Lightweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: Feb. 24 | Start time: 10 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: Arena CDMX — Mexico City
TV channel: ESPN+


Brandon Moreno vs. Brandon Royval: This is Moreno’s fight to lose. The former champion has the better skillset, has fought a higher level of competition and has been in a longer camp than his opponent. I doubt Royval has fixed the grappling defense that plagued him against Pantoja. Royval gave up eight of 14 takedowns against Pantoja and was controlled for more than 60% of the fight. Moreno also struggled with Pantoja’s takedowns but did a better job of getting to his feet. Moreno is more likely to stand with Royval, but his ability to mix in offensive wrestling serves him well. Moreno and Royval have identical strikes landed per minute and striking accuracy stats in the UFC, but I think Moreno is a slicker. Royval is great at finding submissions but I don’t think he’ll tap out a talented grappler like Moreno who has never been stopped. Moreno is just as good if not better than Royval everywhere. Royval thrives in chaos but Moreno is no stranger to fighting through adversity. Moreno via TKO3

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