UFC Fight Night: Rivera vs. Moraes Preview
A preview of Friday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Utica, N.Y.
Updated: May 31, 2018 • 12:35 PM ET
Utica, N.Y. will host the UFC this weekend.
The UFC will stop in Utica, N.Y. on Friday and feature a main event in which the winner could be the next fighter to challenge for the bantamweight title. The fight between No. 4 Jimmie Rivera and No. 5 Marlon Moraes will headline the UFC Fight Night card, as both men have solidified their status as potential contenders. Nevertheless, both combatants still need a premier victory to add to their resume.
Rivera is 5-0 in the UFC and 21-1 overall, but has been a victim of cancelled fights that could have potentially propelled him toward a title shot sooner. He was scheduled to fight former champion Dominick Cruz at UFC 219, but an injury forced Cruz to withdraw from the fight. A victory over Cruz would have likely made Rivera a No. 1 contender and put him next in line for a title opportunity.
Hard-hitting Brazilian John Lineker replaced Cruz, but an injury also forced him to withdraw. But after fighting just once in 2017, the fight with Moraes will be Rivera’s first in a UFC Octagon in nearly a year. He hasn’t slid backwards in the rankings, but he’ll need a convincing win on Friday to discontinue his stalled movement in the rankings.
The 28-year-old Rivera has victories over Hall of Famer Urijah Faber and ranked opponents such as Thomas Almeida and Iuri Alcantara. Meanwhile, Moraes is riding a winning streak of his own and owns enough buzz to represent Rivera’s biggest win to date. Rivera has won 20 straight fights and hasn’t lost since 2008.
Moraes made his UFC debut at UFC 212 last June and lost a split decision to top contender Raphael Assuncao in a close fight. He rebounded by defeating John Dodson by split decision and followed that victory with a spectacular first-round knockout of top 10 ranked Aljamain Sterling on short notice.
Moraes (20-5-1) is a former WSOF champion with 14 finishes, and the 30-year-old Brazilian is one win away from proving he belongs among the elite fighters in the UFC. Prior to the loss to Assuncao, he hadn’t lost a fight since 2011.
Friday’s co-main event will be a lightweight fight between Gregor Gillespie and Vinc Pichel. Both fighters are riding winning streaks and looking to break into the rankings.
The 31-year-old Gillespie, a Rochester, N.Y. native coming off a first-round knockout victory over Jordan Rinaldi in January, is 11-0 and 4-0 in the UFC. He has earned Performance of the Night honors with his first-round TKO of Andrew Holbrook and Fight of the Night honors with his second-round submission of Jason Gonzalez in September 2017.
Since losing his UFC debut in December 2012, Pichel has won four straight fights, the latest of which being a unanimous decision victory over Joaquim Silva in January. The 35-year-old will be looking at the biggest win of his career, should he defeat Gillespie.
The rest of the main card
Heavyweight fight - Walt Harris vs. Daniel Spitz
Welterweight fight - Jake Ellenberger vs. Ben Saunders
Featherweight fight - Julio Arce vs. Daniel Teymur
Light heavyweight fight - No. 15 Gian Villante vs. Sam Alvey
Women’s flyweight fight - No. 2 Sijara Eubanks vs. No. 3 Lauren Murphy
Lightweight fight - Nik Lentz vs. David Teymur
Welterweight fight - Belal Muhammad vs. Chance Rencountre
Lightweight fight - Desmond Green vs. Gleison Tibau
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Women’s strawweight fight - Jessica Aguilar vs. Jodie Esquibel
Bantamweight fight - Johnny Eduardo vs. Nathaniel Wood
Flyweight fight - Jarred Brooks vs. Jose Torres
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