This weekend's UFC Fight Night from Mexico City features two standout 23-year-olds looking to climb the 125-pound ladder.
Who gets it done? Let's take a look at the card:
Sergio Pettis (15-2) vs. Brandon Moreno (14-3), flyweight
Odds: Moreno -170; Pettis +150
Breakdown: The thing about 23-year-old prospects (title contenders?) is they are improving so much fight to fight, you don't entirely know what to expect.
Is either Pettis or Moreno ready to challenge Demetrious Johnson next? Probably not. But there is a lot of talent and potential between these two, and the fact they're meeting now, this early in their respective careers, is fun.
Pettis is a polished, well-rounded fighter for his age, and we've been saying that about him for years. He's constantly ahead of where you'd expect him to be. Taking an amateur fight at age 15 -- and signing with the UFC at 20 -- will do that for you.
If there's one knock on his UFC career thus far, it's that he doesn't have a single finish. It's not impossible to break into the top echelon of flyweights with no finishing ability, but it certainly makes things more difficult.
Moreno, on the other hand, is a proven finisher, primarily on the ground. He has finished 71 percent of his wins via submission.
There's reason to be optimistic about Pettis' finishing potential. For one, he's growing into his frame. His upper body is filling out and it seems to be producing more natural punching power. He knocked Chris Cariaso down early three fights ago. There was another first-round knockdown against John Moraga his last time out. That physical growth, combined with the technical improvements, makes Pettis more of a danger on his feet.
I'm interested to see how Pettis deals with the height and reach disadvantages in this matchup. Moreno is not that much bigger, but using his length is one of the areas in which he seems to be consistently improving.
Moreno loves his counter left hook. He steps out of range and throws it into oncoming traffic all the time. Pettis is good at slipping punches on his way in, but he doesn't utilize a ton of feints. Keep an eye on Moreno's counter left any time Pettis is in pursuit.
Like his older brother Anthony, Pettis will switch stances regularly, although he hasn't shown a whole lot from orthodox. Also like his brother, his offensive wrestling is underrated, and it helped carry him to victory before.
If this turns grapple-heavy, however, you have to think that favors Moreno. Not only because his submissions are more dangerous, but if this high-altitude fight features a lot of physically tiring scrambles and grappling exchanges, Moreno's cardio is a better bet to hold up over time.
Prediction: Moreno via submission, third round.
Alexa Grasso (9-1) vs. Randa Markos (7-4), strawweight: If the UFC would have tried to get Grasso an easy win on home soil, none of us would have been surprised. Markos isn't that. Grasso is favored, but the hard-nosed Markos is a legitimate challenge. Prediction: Markos by decision.
Alan Jouban (15-5) vs. Niko Price (10-0), welterweight: American Top Team is high on the 27-year-old Price. Jouban is the far more experienced of the two. This might be the fight we're all talking about at the end of the night. Prediction: Price via TKO, second round.
Rashad Evans (19-6-1) vs. Sam Alvey (30-9), middleweight: Evans is coming off a lackluster performance against Daniel Kelly in March. How much better will he look in his sophomore appearance at middleweight? A repeat performance won't cut it against Alvey. Prediction: Alvey by decision.