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Raphael Assuncao vs. Marlon Moraes - 2/2/19 UFC Fight Night 144 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Game
Raphael Assuncao vs. Marlon Moraes
Date & Time Saturday February 2, 2019, 10:00 PM (EST)
Location
Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste
Fortaleza, Brazil
The Line
The Line: Moraes-229 / Assuncao +201 -- Over/Under:
TV Channel
ESPN+
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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes fight Saturday during UFC Fight Night 144 at the Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste.

Raphael Assuncao enters this fight with a 27-5 record and has won 48 percent of his fights by decision. Assuncao has won his last four fights and is coming off a July win over Rob Font. Assuncao is averaging 3.38 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 40 percent. Assuncao is averaging 1.4 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 36 percent. Assuncao has been impressive since his loss to T.J. Dillashaw and has only lost two fights in the last eight years. Assuncao is a quality defensive fighter who has only been finished twice in his career and is averaging a little over 13 minutes per fight. Assuncao lands 80 percent of his strikes standing up and has shown he has one-punch knockout power when landed clearly. Overall, however, Assuncao is a grinder who is highly confident in his grappling attack and usually outlasts his opponents in a fight that goes to the judges. Assuncao is often a safe fighter who isn’t going to do anything wild to put himself in danger of losing the fight. This will be Assuncao’s fifth career fight in Brazil, his birthplace.

Marlon Moraes enters this fight with a 21-5-1 record and has won 48 percent of his fights by knockout. Moraes has won 10 of his last 11 fights and is coming off a June win over Jimmie Rivera. Moraes is averaging 3.25 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 33 percent. Moraes is averaging 0.47 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 25 percent. Moraes has put together back-to-back knockout victories that have both earned performance of the night, so he’s as confident as a fighter can be right now. Moraes is a balanced fighter who has raw striking power, a background in Thai boxing and uses his legs well. Five of Moraes’ last six victories have come by knockout, and all five of those wins have come by use of his legs or knees. Moraes has attempted just four takedowns on the UFC level and lands 93 percent of his strikes standing up. The game plan for Moraes is quite clear, as he’s a striker at heart with raw knockout power and is as dangerous with his legs as anybody in the sport. The opponent has to be on high alert at all times when fighting Moraes. This will be Moraes’ eight career fight in Brazil, his birthplace.

These two fought a couple of years ago, a fight Assuncao won by decision despite landing two less strikes than Moraes. Magic threw 300 strikes compared to the 286 from Assuncao, so you can say the more efficient fighter won the bout, but it was a result that could have certainly gone either way. As for who wins the rematch, I still give Moraes the edge. He’s the slightly bigger fighter and the far more aggressive, more polished striker. You can also argue that this is the best stretch of Moraes’ career, and he’s timing those leg kicks at an incredibly rate right now. Unless Assuncao can make things ugly, force some takedowns or lock Moraes in the clinch for majority of the rounds, I don’t like him in a striking battle against this opponent.

Picking favorites in the UFC hasn’t been kind to us recently, but I’m still going to side with Moraes. The style of this fight is one that favors him.

Pick:
Marlon Moraes

Randy Chambers has been with Sports Chat Place since 2014 and covers everything from the NFL to WNBA and tennis. Nobody works harder in this business in terms of content produced and amount of sports covered. Formerly a lead college football writer with Bleacher Report and has had his work featured at Fox Sports, CBS Sports and various other outlets.

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