Alex Caceres is a 5’9″ bantamweight with an overall record of 9-5, 4-3 in the UFC. His opponent is Sergio Pettis, a 5’6″ bantamweight with an undefeated record of 10-0, 1-0 in the UFC. Caceres is coming off a split decision victory over Roland Delorme while Pettis last defeated Will Campuzano by unanimous decision.
“Bruce Leeroy” is an example of a fighter who is extremely good at some things and extremely bad at others. The best part of his game is his volume striking. Caceres has quick hands and feet and is excellent at scoring points with strikes. His significant strike totals are 381 landed and 168 absorbed for a +213 margin. On a per-minute basis Caceres lands 2.29 more significant strikes than his opponents. Caceres also has a very active guard and is very good at threatening his opponents with submission attempts from bottom position. Caceres has only landed one takedown in his UFC career but has attempted 11 submissions.
On the negative side, Caceres has yet to land a single knockdown despite his whopping total of 381 strikes landed. His opponents have knocked him down twice which indicates that Caceres is more likely to lose by knockout than to win. The worst part of Caceres’ game is his ability to land and defend takedowns. Caceres has landed just one takedown but has been taken down himself 20 times in eight UFC fights. Caceres enters this fight with a respectable takedown defense rate of 60 percent but he gets taken down with such frequency that he can’t be said to have strong takedown defense overall.
Caceres also hasn’t faced a very high level of competition. The toughest opponent he’s defeated is arguably Delorme. Caceres has also scored victories against Motonobu Tezuka, Damacio Page, and Cole Escovedo. Caceres had a victory against Kyung Ho Kang overturned to a no contest due to a failed drug test. Caceres has submission losses to Mackens Semerzier and Jim Hettes to go along with a controversial split decision loss to Edwin Figueroa (Caceres definitely out-performed Figueroa in that fight, but that only adds to the point that Caceres hasn’t faced extremely tough opponents).
The younger brother of lightweight champion Anthony, Sergio Pettis has been hailed as a top prospect and potential champion in the UFC. From my perspective his UFC debut against Will Campuzano was more troubling than encouraging. Despite facing an opponent without much takedown offense to speak of in Campuzano, Pettis was taken down four times in that fight. Takedown defense has been a sore spot for Pettis throughout his career; he will have to improve that aspect of his game if he wants to succeed at a high level.
Pettis is similar to Caceres in that he makes up for his liability in the takedown game with excellent volume striking. Pettis landed 81 significant strikes against Campuzano despite the four takedowns, out-scoring Campuzano 81-41. Pettis is a classic Duke Roufus trained fighter in the sense that he has a wide arsenal of strikes and throws a lot of creative and unexpected attacks as well. Pettis is also similar to Caceres in that he doesn’t have a lot of knockout power despite his high volume of strikes landed – just three career wins by TKO in 10 fights, nine of which were on the regional circuit.
However, Pettis makes up for a lack of power with serious submission skills. He has three wins by submission to go along with his three wins by TKO and he attempted two submissions in his victory over Campuzano. Pettis does a great job of defending himself and getting back to his feet after being taken down; Campuzano’s four takedowns led to just two guard passes and zero submission attempts. It’s possible Sergio could model himself after his brother Anthony or somebody like Carlos Condit, a fighter who gets taken down frequently but is excellent at making each takedown just not matter very much.
Alex Caceres vs. Sergio Pettis
This fight has “striking war” written all over it. Both fighters like to stand and strike and both land a tremendous number of strikes. It’s possible we could see a takedown thrown in one way or the other but I doubt that will swing the fight. I slightly favor Pettis for two reasons. First, I think Pettis has better knockout power than Caceres and probably has a better chin as well. Pettis is more likely to win by TKO. Second, Pettis is more likely to deviate from the expected game plan and throw in some takedowns to try to win the fight a different way.
Pick: Sergio Pettis by decision
DEGENERATE GAMBLER’S CORNER
Even though I think Pettis will win the fight I think it’s very close to a 50-50 contest. With that said the current betting lines have Pettis the favorite at -190 with Caceres the underdog at +165. Pettis has a lot of hype behind him that I think is inflating the line a bit. Now, at one point the line was Pettis -325/Caceres +250 so I regret missing out on that one. Even so I think there’s still value on Caceres +165, so he’s my bet, risking $1.00 to win $1.65.
Mandatory disclaimer: I am not a betting professional and I do not recommend following my picks in any serious way. Whenever you make a bet on any fight, you do so at your own risk.