Few fighters in UFC history have managed to raise their stock and fanbase in a losing debut as Kris Moutinho. After proving his toughness and heart to UFC fans around the world when he was placed in a short notice slot against Sean O’Malley this past summer, Moutinho will have another chance to prove himself UFC caliber when he takes on Guido Cannetti at UFC Fight Night 203.
Cannetti, an Argentinian native, earned himself a shot in the UFC back in 2014. Going just 2-5 in his UFC career thus far, with the most recent three coming by loss, Cannetti may very well be fighting for his job this time around. However, his record does not do his skill justice, as given the right night Cannetti has proven to be one of the most devastating kickers inside the octagon. One man will be fighting to prove he deserves to have a UFC career and the other fighting to prove he can maintain it. Both men need a win and will be putting everything on the line this Saturday.
Kris Moutinho, the relative newcomer to the UFC, will come in the slight favorite at -130 against the octagon veteran since 2014.
- Moutinho: -130
- Cannetti: +108
It’s fitting to discuss Guido Cannetti’s style first as over the years he has chiseled down his approach to a very specific game. Cannetti, putting it bluntly, needs to kick to win. He has a ferocious left kick from southpaw, especially to the legs and body but needless to say if it goes up high it has knockout repercussions should it land. He throws it full power and with little windup, it’s slick and fast, however because it’s fully committed every time, if it is checked the consequences could be severe and he does sometimes overcommit should it miss. The rest of his game is very much built around utilizing this area, his boxing is relatively unimpressive, it consists of mostly looping overhangs or the occasional laserlike left hand that works particularly well when his opponents anticipate the kick instead. However he rarely follows up on his punches in combination. Often the overhangs tend to serve as a means to force his opponents to stay further back out of respect for the power, and even if it is easy to evade it makes it difficult to enter range allowing Cannetti to maintain his kicking distance. Everything comes from a very long stance, and his guard is made up of long outstretched arms keeping opponents at bay, both his stance and punching style are used to maintain distance so as to engage in a kicking battle as much as possible.
Ideally one would not need to lean on toughness to win a fight, but it’s one of Kris Moutinho’s strengths and the ability to consistently walk forward regardless of how messy the fight gets is a key to beating Cannetti. Cannetti needs space to operate, and Moutinho’s constant pressure is as close to a kryptonite as it gets. What he needs to focus on is minimizing the openings on either side for Cannetti to move laterally to stay off the cage. Moutinho utilizes a much more squared stance than Cannetti, so weapons from both sides are available, and this makes it easier to check kicks than if he stood sideways. Moutinho is not explosive, so blasting in to attack Cannetti’s head won’t be easy but if he can manage to check the kicks with Cannetti moving forward, Moutinho can catch Cannetti’s head on the centerline as a counter. Moutinho has a very good power straight right hand for these opportunities. Otherwise, when he is the one leading the exchanges, it will be important for him to invest in the body and legs, because the longer the fight drags out the better it is for the less explosive and more relentless Moutinho. One of his weaknesses in the past has been that he ends up chasing his opponents instead of cutting them off which is exactly how Cannetti could maintain enough space to win, this is a major adjustment Moutinho has to make in this fight.
There are a few gambles that will determine how this fight plays out. On Cannetti’s side, we have a pretty good understanding of what he will try to do. What we don’t know is how Moutinho will look in his return after sustaining so much damage in his debut against O’Malley. Assuming he comes back with the same grittiness and chin, those attributes are a terrible match for Cannetti, who strives with space and time to set up big but individual strikes. Take away his room to work and time to set it up and Moutinho has a very good case to overwhelm him.
Prediction: Kris Moutinho to win by decision or late stoppage
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.