Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres will make his octagon return this weekend against the always-game Julian Erosa. An alumnus of the Ultimate Fighter from all the way back to season 12, Caceres has been with the UFC since 2011. Although coming off of a loss in March, this was preceded by a five-fight win streak, including wins over Seung Woo Choi and Steven Peterson.
These two names are notable as they are also recent opponents of Julian Erosa, who beat Peterson in February but does hold a loss to Choi in June of last year. Regardless, Erosa is the one coming into the fight on a three-fight victory run, having last beaten Hakeem Dawodu in September.
Julian Erosa will ride his three-fight winning streak into this fight as the betting favorite.
- Caceres: +140
- Erosa: -181
Alex Caceres is one of the earlier fighters in the UFC to really highlight the advantages of traditional and creative striking in the octagon. While he doesnt have a background in high-level karate or taekwondo, his style is clearly influenced by the more traditional martial arts in his movement and kicks.
It’s common in his fights to see him working the outside of the octagon, circling away from his opponents and catching them while moving backward. In particular, watch for him to shift back with his check right hook as he then circles off the cage. Caceres utilizes a lot of awkward and unorthodox angles as he weaves and evades strikes, which offers both advantages and disadvantages. On one hand it allows him to avoid taking much impact, especially compared to those who shell up and block as a primary defense, when Caceres is on point his movement-dominated style takes very little excess damage in the process. The downside is if he is caught flush, the awkward angles can put him in bad positions to take the shot and push him off balance.
While striking is definitely his preferred method of fighting he does have a dangerous submission game that is more opportunistic than anything. He has great takedown defense and scrambling which coupled with his odd striking leave many opponents frustrated . At this point, given a mistake or opening, Caceres will leap on submission opportunities that he has opened up with his other skill sets.
Erosa is less of a kicker and will look to box more. He has a long-armed style favoring straight shots unless he has his opponent hurt. If or when he “smells blood in the water” he will look to bully his way into the pocket and unload with hooks and uppercuts but until this happens we have seen him a bit more reserved with his full arsenal of boxing. He is very good at sniping his cross down the pipe. This will be difficult with Caceres’ angular style, but if Erosa can force Caceres to plant and exchange, he could split the guard. Erosa has been very accurate.
It would be smart for Erosa to challenge Cacres’ ground game as he has a very high-paced BJJ game and constantly chains techniques together to avoid standups. The best element of Erosa’s grappling is it’s extremely difficult to settle into any position with him as opponents have to be constantly reacting to his transitions and submissions.
While it’s a close one, I lean toward Julian Erosa. His recent fights with Hakeem Dowodu and Charles Jourdain serve as excellent fights in preparing for creative and experienced strikers. I think that Erosa will be able to carry his own on the feet, land a few good shots down the pipe, and ultimately make up any difference if the fight hits the floor.
Prediction: Julian Erosa to win
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.