One of UFC on Fox 18’s featured fights is a bantamweight matchup between rising prospect Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera and Iuri “Marajo” Alcantara. Rivera is one of the more hyped prospects in the bantamweight division, as he has won 17 straight fights. Alcantara, on the other hand, has long been considered one of the top bantamweights in the world but has yet to breakthrough against elite opposition. Jimmie Rivera (18-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC, -170 favorite) Rivera is one of the more promising prospects in the UFC’s bantamweight division. The New Jersey native patiently waited for his shot to get in the UFC, as he racked up a 16-1 record before he ever stepped foot inside the Octagon. However, once he got there he wasted little time in making an impact. In his UFC debut this past July, Rivera floored veteran Marcus Brimage with a big right hand and finished the fight with follow-up punches. He followed that up with an upset win over hyped Brazilian prospect Pedro Muhnoz. A victory over Alcantara would easily be the biggest win of Rivera’s career. The 26-year old is a well-rounded mixed martial artist that competes out of Tiger Shulmann’s headquarters in New Jersey. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Shulmann’s mixed martial arts system. While his compact frame tends to give height and reach advantages to his opponent, Rivera is very powerful, fast, and explosive. Striking is the bread and butter of his game, though he is a capable fighter across the board. Powerful punching combinations, both moving forward and on the counter, are thrown in volume. Hard straight rights, left hooks, uppercuts, and kicks to all levels are staples of Rivera’s game. Additionally, the New Jersey native was an accomplished high school wrestler. From top position Rivera looks to posture up and unload bombs. He is not a big submission threat, but he is fundamentally sound and has outstanding takedown and submission defense. Iuri Alcantara (33-6 (1 NC) MMA, 7-3 (1 NC) UFC, +150 underdog) Alcantara is a longtime veteran that has been producing at the highest level for many years. The Brazilian came to the UFC after a one fight stint in the WEC, which was a highlight-reel knockout over top featherweight contender Ricardo Lamas. Prior to that Alcantara had competed on the regional scene in Brazil, including stints in the Jungle Fight promotion. Since arriving in the UFC in 2011, “Marajo” has recorded a highly respectable 7-3 record. All three of his losses have come against high-level competitors, including Urijah Faber, Hacran Dias, and Frankie Saenz. The 35-year old has won four out of his last five and is looking to make a run at the bantamweight title. Like many high-level Brazilian fighters, Alcantara is deadly both on the feet and on the canvas. “Marajo” is massive for the bantamweight division and he usually holds a sizeable height and reach advantage over his opponent. On the feet Alcantara is a dynamic knockout artist that fights out of a southpaw stance. Hard jabs, straight lefts, and right hooks are the staples of the Brazilian’s traditional Muay Thai attack. Alcantara’s footwork and movement could be improved, as he is very flat-footed inside the cage. He likes to move forward and walk down his opponent. Alcantara has finished a whopping 79% of his fights, which is very high for a bantamweight. While Alcantara is a very good offensive grappler, he has routinely been exploited on the canvas by high-level grapplers. The Brazilian’s takedown defense has not been up to the task and he has not been able to get off his back or create offense from there. However, only elite fighters have been able to exploit Alcantara’s weaknesses and he should not be taken lightly. Offensively, Alcantara has some nice throws from the clinch and is a decent scrambler. The Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt is very good from top position, as he routinely postures up and throws heavy strikes. Additionally, he has a stout submission game. Thoughts This is a sneaky good matchup that is flying under the radar as fight night approaches. A win over Alcantara would be huge for Rivera’s career. Alcantara is currently the #14 ranked fighter in the division, so a win over him would likely at least place Rivera in that spot. Alcantara, meanwhile, needs this win to stay on track at his advanced age. There are not many fighters in the lighter weight classes that are over the age of 35. Alcantara will need to send a message here if he ever wants to make a run at the title. As far as the matchup goes, while Alcantara’s length and reach may give Rivera some issues, I still believe the matchup favors him. Rivera’s potent punching combinations, pace, and stout takedown defense make him a hard matchup for most fighters in the division. Further, Alcantara does not possess the offensive wrestling to routinely drag Rivera to the canvas. Rivera should be able to take a decision based on superior volume. The Prediction: Jimmie Rivera defeats Iuri Alcantara by unanimous decision.
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