As much as I enjoy watching fighters like Paul Sass compete, it really is best for an aspiring UFC contender to be well-rounded and skilled in all areas. Being one-dimensional will only work for a fighter as long as he faces an opponent who is weak at that dimension. When Sass was matched up with Matt Wiman, he took his 3-0 UFC record into a fight against an opponent who had never been submitted. Not only was Sass not able to win the fight by submission, it was Wiman who ended up winning by submission.
Alex Caceres and Roland Delorme both have gaping holes in their respective MMA games. Caceres has become an excellent point striker with a very slick ground game, but his takedown defense is terrible. Delorme has a strong takedown game and good overall grappling but struggles badly when the fight is standing up. In this particular match, with the way Caceres and Delorme match up, I think Caceres has a distinct advantage.
If the fight stays standing, it’s all Caceres. He lands strikes at very high volume while Delorme gets hit by strikes at high volume. Caceres has landed more significant strikes than his opponent in six out of seven UFC fights, while Delorme has only done that in two fights out of four. In the two fights Delorme landed more strikes, it was by the slightest of margins (26-24 against Nick Denis and 36-34 against Josh Ferguson). Delorme’s significant strike defense rate is a dismal 43 percent.
Now I assume that if this fight goes to the ground, it will be Delorme who takes the fight there. It seems like a safe assumption to make. Delorme has a 9:1 ratio in takedowns landed to opponent takedowns, compared to a 1:19 ratio for Caceres. Caceres should want to keep this fight standing because he’s much better on the feet than Delorme is. Therefore, if anybody should want to attempt a takedown, it should be Delorme.
However, while Caceres should be considered a heavy favorite in a striking match, it’s unclear who would win a grappling contest between he and Delorme, even if it’s Delorme in top position. Caceres has a very active guard and is aggressive with submissions off his back. He’s also good at getting back to his feet after being taken down. He’s like Carlos Condit in that respect – he makes his opponent’s takedowns not matter that much because of how aggressive he is off his back.
There is some hope for Delorme though. Caceres has lost by submission due to rear naked choke twice, first to Mackens Semerzier and then to Jim Hettes. Caceres also had his guard passed eight times by Kyung Ho Kang, in a fight he arguably should not have been awarded a decision.
If Delorme can consistently take Caceres down, hold him down, and control top position, he may be able to take advantage of a Caceres mistake and win by tap out. He also has a decent chance of winning by decision with top control – we’ve all seen how difficult it is to win by decision with the guard game.
Overall, though, I have to favor Caceres to win. It’s too likely that his ability to scramble and get back to his feet will negate whatever advantage Delorme has in takedowns. Ultimately, Caceres has more weapons at his disposal, and that will probably see him through to victory… assuming he doesn’t do something stupid like test positive for marijuana.
Pick: Alex Caceres by decision