I was only going to write predictions for the main card fights of UFC 175, but I think I have to make an exception for the “main event” of the preliminaries featuring Urijah Faber against Alex Caceres. “Bruce Leeroy” seems like an odd choice to face Faber. He’s been somewhat successful in the UFC but has faced mostly mid-tier competition or below to this point. Faber represents an enormous jump up in competition for Caceres, which is reflected in the betting lines as Caceres is currently a +750 underdog and hit +1100 at one point. The betting markets seem to think Caceres is completely in over his head. To be honest, this is pretty much true… but I also think his chances of winning are a little better than people think.
The best chance Caceres has of winning this fight is if Faber, for whatever reason, decides to make this a kickboxing match. I’ve said it plenty of times before, but Faber is very vulnerable when he decides to just stand and box against his opponents. Faber was thoroughly out-struck by top tier bantamweights like Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz, and was very even against Scott Jorgensen in their standing exchanges. Meanwhile, Caceres is an excellent volume striker. He landed 102 significant strikes against Cole Escovedo, 106 against Roland Delorme, and equaled the output of a good striker in Sergio Pettis.
Of course, there’s something to be said for Faber taking on a much tougher level of competition than Caceres. It’s quite possible that Faber would prove to be the more effective striker for that reason. And let’s be honest, is Faber really going to let Caceres kickbox him for three rounds? Faber has always been a wrestler/grappler first and a striker second. Against Caceres, a fighter who has been taken down 21 times and has a takedown defense rate of just 59 percent, I have to think Faber will succeed early and often at getting him to the ground.
Part of what has made Caceres successful is his very slick and aggressive guard game. He’s excellent at threatening his opponents with submission holds from bottom position or scrambling out of a bad spot. At the same time, Caceres also has a tendency to concede position in those wild transitions. There’s a reason that four of Caceres’s five losses are by submission. I also am skeptical that Caceres will get away with those wild transitions against Faber, who is one of the best fighters in the division at taking advantage of openings and going for sudden submissions.
I have to think that Faber’s grappling style with his aggressive pursuit of chokes will be a good counter to the ground game of Caceres. If we assume that Faber will start off in top position after a takedown, my guess is that he’ll anticipate the scrambling of Caceres and be prepared to take advantage of it. However, I thought the same of Hatsu Hioki against Charles Oliveira, so who knows.
I mostly agree with the consensus opinion here. This is going to be a very difficult fight for Caceres to win. Whatever advantage Caceres might have standing should be more than neutralized by Faber’s massive advantage in takedowns. While Caceres has a very active and attacking guard, he also makes mistakes and I believe Faber will be ready to capitalize on his mistakes. With that said, I think Faber’s status as a -1580 favorite (-2300 at one point!) is a bit over the top. It would be shocking if Caceres found a way to submit or out-point Faber, but I think he at least has the chance to shock people.
Pick: Urijah Faber by submission