Prior to each UFC card, Jay Primetown takes a close look at debuting fighters. In the latest installment, we look at TUF 24 combatant Brandon Moreno as he debuts against #9 ranked flyweight Louis Smolka at UFC Fight Night 96 in Portland, Oregon. Brandon Moreno Hometown: Tijuana, Mexico Age: 22 Height: 5’7” Reach: Weight Class: Flyweight Camp: Entram Gym Career Record: 11-3 Key Wins: None Key Losses: None Background 22-year old Brandon Moreno was the World Fighting Federation flyweight champion, a small promotion based out of Arizona, prior to making the jump onto The Ultimate Fighter 24. On the show, he had a fairly competitive bout against top-seeded Alexandre Pantoja. Being able to compete with a high level prospect like Pantoja should give him confidence heading into his full UFC debut. Strengths

  • Decent ground game
  • Does well to find his opponent’s back
  • Has a very good rear naked choke
  • Striking has improved significantly in a short time

Weaknesses

  • Susceptible to power strikes on the feet
  • Can be backed up by opponent and controlled against the cage
  • When put on his back he doesn’t have many answers for opponent
  • Question marks about cardio

 

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  Matchup against Louis Smolka In what should be one of the more entertaining matchups at Fight Night 96, Brandon Moreno debuts against #9 ranked flyweight Louis Smolka. The talented Hawaiian should have an edge on the feet. He’s an accurate (49% striking accuracy) volume (4.92 significant strikes per minute) striker on the feet. Outside of Moreno’s fight in the TUF house, he’s been a bit tentative on the feet and that will put him at a big disadvantage in this bout given Smolka’s high volume approach. Things get more interesting on the ground as Moreno really is at his best when’s he looking for his opponent’s back and a rear naked choke. Smolka has gotten so much better in the grappling aspects of MMA over the last year. His takedown approaches have improved and he is one of the best transition grapplers in MMA. If Moreno can get to Smolka’s neck, there’s potential for an upset, but given the opponent’s Smolka has faced and avoided being submitted I don’t see that happening in this bout. Smolka is absolutely relentless in his approach and he doesn’t allow opponents a moment to rest. With Moreno taking this fight on short notice, conditioning will be even more important in this fight and it will be difficult to see Moreno keep up. I fully expect Moreno to tire out in the second round of this fight and for Smolka to dominate from that point forward to get a finish. At -440 and likely to grow, this is no longer playable. Once props are released, I will be looking at Smolka by submission as Moreno is vulnerable to being controlled and choked out on the ground especially as he tires. UFC Ceiling At 22 years of age, Moreno becomes one of the youngest fighters in the UFC. Even from his time prior to TUF and his fight on TUF, he showed significant improvements in his overall ability. Being able to train with high level flyweights should continue his improvement. Athletically, he appears to have what it takes to compete in the UFC. With some more seasoning, he should have more consistent performances inside the cage. Debuting against Smolka is a bad matchup, but there are definitely enough positive elements in his game to believe he could have some success in the UFC in the next couple of years. Fight Film Check out Brandon Moreno in some of his most recent fights:   Tyler Bialecki vs. Brandon Moreno   Isaac Camarillo vs. Brandon Moreno   Alexandre Pantjoa vs. Brandon Moreno