UFC Fight Night 144 on ESPN+ Preview
By: Jesse Donathan
The UFC returns to ESPN+ Saturday night, February 2nd as bantamweights Marlon Moraes (21-5-1) and Raphael Assuncao (27-5) collide in the main event. Both fighters are vying for an opportunity to face bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (16-4), in their way oddly enough is flyweight champion Henry Cejudo who recently bested Dillashaw in a failed attempt to claim Cejudo’s 125-pound title. In the co-main event, former longtime featherweight champion Jose Aldo (27-4) faces Renato “Moicano” Carneiro (13-1-1) in a three-round 145-pound featherweight contest.
According to Bellator light heavyweight fighter and ESPN host Chael Sonnen stated via his January 31, 2019 Bad Guy Inc. YouTube video titled, “Jose Aldo said publicly what a lot of fighters say privately…” Aldo was offered the main event slot but declined, preferring to take a three-round fight over a lengthier five round war of attrition. Sonnen would go on to add, “Jose has been the first one to put his foot down and push back and a lot of the fighters are going, ‘hey, this is weird, why are we doing that?’ Why do we have to go on for 70% longer?”
Aldo has had his problems with cardio in the past, with his tendency to put a high pace on his opponents the very real possibility of gassing out can have the effect of changing game plans and the way fighters approach the fights. Without an additional two rounds to worry about, Aldo has more freedom to practice his particular brand of violence which has served him well throughout his legendary career. Considered by some to be the greatest featherweight of all time, anytime you get a chance to watch Aldo compete the very real possibility of a stoppage exists win or lose making him a perennial fan favorite.
Renato Moicano has other plans however, with a lengthy, piston like jab the 5’11” Moicano enjoys a 75-inch reach, a full five inches greater than the 5’8” Aldo. Fighting tall and long will be the keys to victory for Moicano, something easier said then done against an opponent like Jose who is great at closing the distance and with deadly kicks and offensive barrages. Aldo is the more experienced and technical fighter, but the years of consistently fighting some of the best fighters in the world have taken their toll on the once dominant champion. The 32-year-old champion has twice as many fights as his younger, 29-year-old opponent and that kind of mileage will begin to break down even the best of fighters. We will find out if Aldo has what it takes to turn back ‘Moicano’ Saturday night.
Diaz to Face Ito for the WBO World Super Featherweight Title
By: Ken Hissner
Top Rank, All Star Boxing and Tuto Zabala, Jr. bring a world boxing title bout along with 8 other bouts at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Florida on Saturday that will be shown on ESPN+.
Unbeaten No. 1 contender Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz, 23-0 (15), of Barranquitas, PR, will be taking on No. 2 contender Masayuki Ito, 23-1-1 (12), of Tokyo, Japan. This is scheduled for 12 rounds for the vacant WBO World Super Featherweight title.
Photo Credit: Peter Amador / Top Rank
Two fights ago, in December of 2017, Diaz defeated US boxer Bryant “Pee Wee” Cruz, 18-2. He stopped him in 3 rounds for the vacant NABO super featherweight title. In his most recent fight, a NABO title defense, he stopped Dominican Braulio “El Chavo” Rodriguez, 19-2, in 4 rounds in March of 2018. He has fought in the US in 14 of his 23 bouts with the rest in PR. Earlier in Diaz’s career he defeated US boxer Ray Ximenez, 13-0, for the vacant WBO Youth Featherweight title in San Juan, PR, in April of 2016.
Ito has held the WBC Youth World Lightweight, OPBF Super Feather and WBO Asia Pacific Super Feather titles. This will be the first time he has fought out of Japan. He defeated Filipino Jeffrey “The Bull” Arienza, 9-1-1, for the WBC Youth World Lightweight title stopping him in 10 rounds. He stopped Japan’s Dai Iwai, 17-3-1, in the tenth round for the vacant OPBF Super Featherweight title. In title defenses he defeated Japan’s Shingo Eto, 17-3-1, stopped Filipino Ernie Sanchez, 15-7-1, in 11 rounds.
Ito defeated Japan’s Takuya Watanabe, 30-6-1 along with winning Watanabe’s OPBF Super Featherweight title by decision over 12 rounds. He defended the OPBF title stopping Filipino Lorenzo “Thunderbolt” Villanueva, 33-2, in 9 rounds in April of 2017. He followed in 2017 stopping Filipino Glenn Enterina, 11-2-1, in 6 rounds and in March of 2018 stopping Filipino Vergil Puton, 17-9, in 9 rounds in his most recent bout.
In the co-feature Welterweight Gabriel “Tito” Bracero, 24-3-1 (5), of Brooklyn, NY, takes on Artemio Reyes, 25-2 (20), of Colton, CA, who is on a 10 fight 8 knockout winning streak over 10 rounds. Bracero has wins over Dmitriy “Star of David” Salita, 35-1-1, in 2013 and knocking out Danny O’Connor, 26-2, in 2015 in the first round.
Middleweight southpaw Esquiva Falcao, 20-0 (14), of Vitoria, BRZ, takes on southpaw Jonathan “Oso” 17-5 (13), of Mexico City, MEX, over 10 rounds.