Preview: UFC on ESPN 20 - Lazzez vs. Alves

By: Tom Feely
Jan 19, 2021

Welterweights

NR | Mounir Lazzez (10-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. NR | Warlley Alves (13-4, 7-4 UFC)

ODDS: Lazzez (-225), Alves (+185)

It is difficult to completely write off a talent like Alves, but “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” Season 3 winner once again finds himself trying to build some momentum. It has now been over six years since Alves had a run through his season that made him look like a future champion, thanks to his series of quick and brutal wins. Shortly thereafter, an ugly and controversial decision win over Alan Jouban proved that Alves was exceedingly reliant on those early finishes and would gas out badly, but for his next few fights, it looked like that would not matter. Alves just kept getting those finishes, including a guillotine choke submission of Colby Covington in just 86 seconds. However, after the Covington bout was when Alves hit the wall. Prospect killer Bryan Barberena outlasted him, and Kamaru Usman was an opponent Alves never figured to beat. Since then, there has been some promise, as Alves has been better able to pace himself and come into his fights with a smart game plan, but he finds himself a step behind when things go off track, allowing him to get picked apart by better boxers or surrender a submission, like he did in his last fight against Randy Brown. Lazzez steps in on late notice to take on Alves, and “The Sniper” could cause some trouble for the Brazilian’s attempt at a rebound victory. The UFC apparently signed Lazzez based on a friend showing UFC President Dana White a highlight reel at a restaurant, which basically sums up his pre-UFC career. Lazzez showed some flash at a rangy striker, but he did not face opposition that would give him much in the way of resistance. That figured to make a UFC debut against power brawler Abdul Razak Alhassan a tough ask, but Lazzez managed to withstand an early beating and impress in a clear decision win. There is a chance that Lazzez can pull off the same trick here, but Alves should be able to rely on his grappling. If nothing else, that part of Lazzez’s game is relatively unproven, so it appears to be an opening that Alves can exploit to take over the fight before the Tunisian striker has the chance to get things rolling. The pick is Alves via second-round submission.

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