Preview: UFC on ESPN 23 Prelims - Benitez vs. Pearce

By: Tom Feely
Apr 29, 2021


NR | Gabriel Benitez (22-8, 6-4 UFC) vs. NR | Jonathan Pearce (10-4, 1-1 UFC)

ODDS: Benitez (-210), Pearce (+175)

Over the course of the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America,” it looked like Benitez would wind up being the star of the cast. He had the most decorated resume of the group to that point, and his natural charisma led to a lot of screen time during each episode. Even though Benitez did not wind up being the breakout performer of the season, he has still joined most of his castmates in overachieving greatly and carving out a solid niche for himself on the UFC roster. Benitez is a fundamentally sound striker who can be overwhelmed athletically, but he has almost always been a tough out, and his last win over Justin Jaynes resulted in a brutal knockout that served as a reminder that “Moggly” can still bring some danger. He faces an interesting test here against Pearce, who rebounded quite nicely from an extremely disappointing UFC debut. Pearce showed some potential as a scrapper in earning a contract on Dana White’s Contender Series, and the 2019 version of Joe Lauzon figured to be an easy win for “JSP.” However, Lauzon blew his doors off, making it all the more surprising when Pearce turned around and earned a ground-and-pound stoppage of Kai Kamaka III in November. Benitez has the much greater depth of skill, but this could still be a tricky fight. Pearce is absolutely gigantic for a featherweight and does have some natural timing to his strikes, which could make this a similar fight to Benitez’s loss to Omar Morales a year ago. Still, the pick is for Benitez to take a narrow decision.

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