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This looks like a shockingly strong undercard in terms of entertainment value for one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s second-tier pay-per-views. The featured UFC 255 prelim on Saturday in Las Vegas might be the best fight on the entire card, as Brandon Moreno and Brandon Royval vie for the No. 1 contender position at 125 pounds in what should be an all-out war. Beyond that, Joaquin Buckley tries to build on his momentum after authoring one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history, and there are exciting pairings up and down the lineup. Every fight features at least one competitor who will look to press the action, so this could quickly become one of the sleeper cards of the year.
Now to the preview for the UFC 255 “Figueiredo vs. Perez” prelims:
FlyweightsBrandon Moreno (17-5-1) vs. Brandon Royval (12-4)
ODDS: Moreno (-190), Royval (+165)
When Alex Perez got the call as Cody Garbrandt’s replacement in the main event, it came as a surprise. Perez was slated to face Moreno, who most felt was next in line at 125 pounds. Moreno’s recent resurgence marks the second time that “The Assassin Baby” has surprised on the UFC stage. After quickly washing out of the all-flyweight season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2016, Moreno stepped in as a late replacement before the season even finished airing and earned a shocking submission win over the surging Louis Smolka. That started a three-fight winning streak that showed Moreno was a prospect worth investing in, albeit a raw talent that still needed to develop more consistency. Instead, he was rushed into a main event in Mexico City against Sergio Pettis that exposed most of the technical holes in Moreno’s game. After one more loss, Moreno suddenly found himself a victim of the UFC’s flyweight purge. It took all of one fight and a few months for the UFC to reverse its decision and bring Moreno back into the fold, and he has shown an impressive amount of improvement since. Moreno is much more effective as a pressure striker who is willing to throw out volume; factor in his impressive grappling skills, and Moreno has the potential to wind up as the UFC’s first Mexican-born champion. Rather than get that shot here, he will have to defend his spot against Royval, one of the breakout talents of 2020. Prime Anthony Pettis is an obvious comparison for the Coloradan and an apt one. Royval seemingly throws whatever flashy strike comes to mind in the moment, while possessing some vicious scrambling skills that serve as the bedrock of his game. Kai Kara France figured to be a tough test for Royval in September, but “Raw Dawg” kept the Kiwi on his toes by remaining a constant whirlwind of activity, eventually resulting in his second straight second-round submission in as many UFC bouts. Royval cannot help but bring all-out madness to the cage, and for all of his technical improvements, Moreno seems more than willing to take him up on a scrap and turn this into a war. While Moreno may be the more consistent and technical fighter—odd to say, given where he was just two years ago—if this bout is all about offense, Royval looks like the more potent fighter. The pick is Royval via decision in the odds-on best fight of the night.
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