MMA Preview – Raphael Assuncao vs Marlon Moraes 2 at UFC Fight Night 144

AT A GLANCE

When is UFC Fight Night 144? Saturday 2nd February, 2019 - 23:00 start (UK)

Where is UFC Fight Night 144? Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste, Fortaleza, Brazil

What channel is UFC Fight Night 144 on? BT Sport 3

Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 144? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website

Are tickets still available for UFC Fight Night 144? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket...

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

Brazil’s two best bantamweights headline UFC Fight Night 144 which is likely to serve as a number one contender fight for TJ Dillashaw’s title. It’s hard to argue that either fighter won’t thoroughly deserve a title shot, but it will depend on what the UFC do in the aftermath of Henry Cejudo beating Dillashaw last month, defending his flyweight belt.

This is a rematch of their fight back in 2017 where Raphael Assunção edged a very close decision, and is part of his four-fight winning streak including wins over Aljamain Sterling, Matthew Lopez and Rob Font. Assunção also boasts a win over the current champion Dillashaw, and would love an opportunity of a rubber match.

Marlon Moraes’ loss to Assunção was his only in 17 fights. The most remarkable of those 16 wins were his last two fights, earning a knockout and ‘performance of the night’ each time. The first was a devastating knee to Sterling that rendered him stiff as a board and his last fight was a spectacular head kick knockout over Jimmie Rivera handing him his first ever knockout loss.

THE PREDICTION

Their first fight was so close and could have gone either way. Over the three rounds Assunção landed 43 strikes to Moraes' 44 and this fight could easily take a similar shape. It is likely to be a stand-up battle as their elite ground games should cancel each other out.

But this is where Moraes could have the edge. His striking is as powerful as it is technical, and as we saw in his last two, any fighter is at risk of going to sleep when standing in front of Moraes.

That said, Assunção pulled off his first knockout in nine fights against Lopez so Moraes has to respect his skills. It is hard to bet against Assunção, whose only loss in 12 fights was against Dillashaw, but Moraes has flourished since his first UFC fight against Assunção and will not have the same nerves.

Winner: Moraes via Decision

Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.