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UFC Mexico City predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Moreno vs. Royval 2

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Former Flyweight champion, Brandon Moreno, returns to Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico, for the first time in more than four years this weekend (Sat., Feb. 24, 2024) when he battles familiar rival, Brandon Royval, atop UFC Mexico City on ESPN+. Fellow Mexican standout, Yair Rodriguez, also sees action against the returning Brian Ortega, while young gun, Raul Rosas Jr., takes on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) winner and fellow wild man, Ricky Turcios.

We’ve got three more UFC Mexico City “Prelims” undercard bouts to examine (checkout the first batch here) and no time like the present. Shall we?

MMA: UFC Fight Night - Phillips vs Barcelos

135 lbs.: Cristian Quinonez vs. Raoni Barcelos

After securing a UFC contract by beating Xiao Long on Contender Series, Christian Quinonez (18-4) announced his UFC arrival with a late-notice knockout of Khalid Taha. Then came veteran Kyung Ho Kang, who took less than a half-round to hand “Problema” his second submission loss.

Ten of his 13 professional finishes have come via knockout.

Five consecutive victories — including a submission of Chris Gutierrez and decision over Said Nurmagomedov — put Raoni Barcelos (17-5) on the brink of Bantamweight contention. He’s just 1-4 since, most recently dropping a decision to Kyler Phillips in Aug. 2023.

He’ll enjoy a two-inch reach advantage.

I’ve long lamented the fact that Barcelos entered UFC too late to fit a title run into his prime, but while he’s clearly no longer elite, I’m not convinced he’s done yet. There’s no shame in losing to dynamos like Umar Nurmagomedov and Kyler Phillips, and though his boxing seems to have lost its edge, his ground game remains a threat.

That’s more than a slight issue for Quinonez, who found himself thoroughly out-classed by Kang on the mat. Even if his sprawl does hold up, Barcelos still has enough pop in his right hand to sit down Quinonez, so he’ll end up in Barcelos’ world one way or the other. In the end, technique beats youth as Barcelos leans on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu to hand Quinonez his third submission loss.

Prediction: Barcelos via first round submission

UFC Fight Night: Basharat v Mendonca

125 lbs.: Jesus Aguilar vs. Mateus Mendonca

A third-round Contender Series submission of Erisson Ferreira earned Jesus Aguilar (9-2) his eighth consecutive victory and punched his UFC ticket. Though he fell to top prospect, Tatsuro Taira, in his UFC debut, he bounced back in a big way by smoking Shannon Ross with one punch just 17 seconds into their bout.

Guillotine chokes account for five of his six pro submissions.

Mateus Mendonca (10-2) returned from nearly two years on the sidelines to smash Ashiek Ajim on Contender Series and walk away with a UFC contract. He’s still chasing his first UFC victory, dropping a decision to Javid Basharat in his Octagon debut before succumbing to Nate Maness’ ground-and-pound nine months later.

He stands two inches taller than Aguilar and boasts a nearly 10-inch reach advantage.

By all rights, Mendonca should win this. Crushing one of UFC’s all-time worst Flyweights isn’t enough to convince me that Aguilar is contender material. That’s because he’s still a middling wrestler with little to offer on the feet besides an overhand right. If Mendonca paces himself and utilizes that cartoonish reach advantage, it’ll be smooth sailing.

That’s a load-bearing “if,” of course. He showed inexplicably poor fight IQ against Maness, so while the only way he conceivably loses this is by willingly sticking his head into Aguilar’s guillotine, I can very easily still see that happening. Still, there’s too much going his way in this matchup for me to pick against him, so expect him to piece Aguilar up en route to a comfortable decision.

Prediction: Mendonca via unanimous decision

UFC Fight Night: Yusuff v Barboza Weigh-in

125 lbs.: Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda

Edgar Chairez (10-5) put an unsuccessful Contender Series bid behind him to score a pair of submission wins and the Fury FC Flyweight title. A short-notice UFC debut saw him fall to Tatsuro Taira, after which a questionable stoppage against Lacerda resulted in a “No Contest.”

He sports one inch of height and reach on Daniel Lacerda (11-5).

Lacerda entered the Octagon at 11-1, the lone loss a freak shoulder injury against Shooto Brasil standout, Edilceu Alves. Five subsequent UFC appearances have produced four stoppage losses, one “Fight of the Night,” two last-minute cancelations, and the aforementioned “No Contest.”

All 11 of his wins have come inside the distance, 10 of them in the first round.

I’ll say the same thing here that I did the last time I had to analyze this matchup: Chairez’s lack of output gives the ultra-dynamic Lacerda a chance, but I can’t overlook Lacerda’s penchant for implosion. There’s no reason to think Lacerda won’t bumble into one of Chairez’s chokes again or gas himself out and get cold-cocked by one of Chairez’s rare haymakers.

I genuinely want Lacerda to succeed. Considering his talent and strong camp, there’s still a chance it could happen. It’s just impossible to have faith in him anymore. When the dust finally settles, Chairez finds his neck for a definitive finish.

Prediction: Chairez via first round submission

The Brandons are always good for a scrap and some of these matchups look like absolute bangers. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Current Prediction Record for 2024: 22-11

LIVE! Stream UFC Mexico City On ESPN+

PIVOTAL FLYWEIGHT FRACAS! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to Arena CDMX in Mexico City, Mexico, on Feb. 24, 2024, with a pivotal Flyweight fracas between former 125-pound kingpin, Brandon Moreno, and most recent title challenger, Brandon Royval, who replaces the red-hot (and injured) Iraqi “Prince,” Amir Albazi. In UFC Mexico City’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, top-ranked Featherweight contenders, Yair Rodriguez (No. 3) and Brian Ortega (No. 4), will run it back after their initial encounter ended prematurely via gross injury.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Mexico City fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Mexico City: “Moreno vs. Royval 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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