Trevin “The Problem” Giles is 29 years old, 14-3 as a fighting professional, and 5-3 since joining the UFC. The Houston police officer will be making his welterweight debut Saturday night at UFC 270. Michael Morales, 22, is making his UFC debut after racking up 12 wins without a loss as a professional. All but two of the Ecuadorian fighter’s wins have come by finish.
Morales is a narrow betting favorite in his debut over Giles.
- Giles: +105
- Morales: -125
Giles and Morales share some similarities in the octagon. Both are athletic, suddenly explosive, and sharp strikers. Giles has heavy and active hands; he often follows a stinging jab with a sharp hook. His hook is deceptive as well as powerful because he fights with his hands low, relying on movement for defense, and the hook comes from his opponent’s blind spot. Giles has real heat behind his strikes but his technique, urgency, and willingness to throw a variety of combinations can improve. He tends to stick with the same plan- weave into his range, test a few jabs, and set up a big hook. When grappling offensively, Giles engages well and is powerful in the clinch. Defensively, he is less technical and more reliant on his strength. Giles has been and can be taken down and controlled in the clinch but is adept at bursting upward to break the grip. Once on the feet, he repeats his tried and true jab-hook approach.
Morales is more varied and fundamental than Giles. Despite only being 22, Morales is a patient fighter who looks to set up his heavy strikes behind a stiff jab, regular feints, and a solid kicking game. His goal is to weaponize his length and precise striking to keep opponents at his range where he is both safer and more dangerous. Morales is also a patient fighter, willing to hunt for openings rather than rush in and engage. His patience could cause issues at this level because the typical way to beat a long and tactical fighter is to rush in and make the ranger man fight in close. If Morales is too patient and doesn’t lead the dance, he’ll be inviting his opponent to crash and force him into a brawl. But, thus far, I’ve seen Morales dictate range, pace, and violence. I’m excited for his potential in the UFC.
In most cases, I favor the longer, faster, and the more technical striker who I trust has the edge in skill. However, being his debut, I worry Morales will fall into some veteran traps from Giles. I think Morales will have moments where he looks good in this fight; but, over the course of 15 minutes, I see Giles as keeping up with Morales’ sudden explosions, crashing the distance, and exploiting Morales’ lower volume. If Giles pushes a higher pace and leans on his experience, I see him getting the win.
Prediction: Trevin Giles to win by decision
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.