One of the hidden gems on UFC Fight Night 197 is a lightweight bout between Brazilian Thiago Moises and Spain’s Joel Alvarez. Thiago Moises most recently found himself on the losing end against rising contender Islam Makachaev. There is no shame in a loss like that, but unfortunately for Moises it was on the largest stage so far in his career, but for those who understand who Moises is, knows that he may very well put on an amazing performance this Saturday in his comeback.
His opponent, Joel Alvarez, joined the UFC in 2019 to a rough debut but since then has gone on an impressive three-fight win streak and a three-fight finish streak. Wins over Joe Duffy and Alexander Yakovlev especially have set Alvarez up as one of the most promising submission artists in the game today.
A win this Saturday could put Moises back on track as one of the rising stars looking to break into the top echelon of the division, but on the flip end, a win for Alvarez would represent the biggest yet for the Spaniard and introduce him to even more UFC fans around the world.
Moises vs. Alvarez Betting Odds
Thiago Moises will return to the octagon after his loss to Makhachev as a betting favorite at -225 against Joel Alvarez.
- Moises: -25
- Alvarez: +200
Moises vs. Alvarez Breakdown
Thiago Moises is a solid fighter in every area of his game. He typically starts off the fight a bit slower, engaging in a lot of movement but not much actual contact. He is light on the feet and uses feints and footwork to settle into a rhythm before he comfortably begins actually fighting. This is an important step for Moises as he is a momentum fighter, so once he is committed to engaging with his opponent a strong start often snowballs in his favor and he is able to pour on more of an output at a consistent rate, as he raises in performance and confidence.
What you will see out of him is a very dynamic offensive game, he sticks mostly to basics but uses fluid movement and footwork to execute them very quickly and seamlessly. From the orthadox stance, he has a good right body kick and straight punches which he extends when he hops into range. When he is put on the defensive expect him to raise a high guard which does a good job of deflecting most shots but does leave an opening to his body sometimes.
While most of his techniques are typically ‘the basics’ he will throw in the occasional spinning attack to mix it up and keep his opponent guessing. He may want to lean even heavier into this side of his game this time around as Alvarez, like Moises works best when he feels comfortable and works at his rhythm and pace. Therefore expect more feinting and mixing up of less traditional techniques than we may be used to seeing from Moises.
Relentless ‘in your face’ boxing has been an obstacle against certain opponents for Moises in the past, he depends heavily on his fluidity so when his space and timing is stuffed by pressure his style is definitely at a detriment.
In terms of grappling, Moises is one of the most promising jiu-jitsu talents at 155lbs, but what stands out particularly is his ability to drop immediately into leg lock situations from relatively stalemate positions in the clinch, especially against the cage. Otherwise, his grappling ability can be defined as solid all-round, fundamental but at the highest level.
Sixteen submissions in eighteen victories is the story of Joel Alvarez’s career. It’s no secret that his best work is done on the ground, evident even in the fact that all his UFC wins to date have been secured on the mat. Alvarez is particularly dangerous off of his back when he can draw in the takedown attempt from his opponent, the first barrier they usually face is the danger of his wicked guillotine. It’s lightning-fast, and his unusually long limbs for the weight class see him able to tie up his opponents in guard with an equally unusual tightness. If they are able to defend, he chains together triangles and armbars immediately, and if not is instantly looking for sweeps. If the latter occurs, he has great short and stiff ground and pound, even more effective because of his skill at tying up his opponents in vulnerable positions.
On the feet, Moises uses his range as best he can, working on the outside with alot of long kicks and punches in order to frustrate his opponents. This is most often what leads to them shooting on him and into his deadly guard. He likes to work much heavier on the feet than Moises, making his leg vulnerable but readily trades with his own low kicks back. He plants and throws with a lot of commitment and power.
The weakness in his style is that he works tall and leans out of range, which works well when he is controlling the fight but when his opponent has established a good sense of range, he can get caught with his chin in the air and his head on the centerline. Furthermore, his kick heavy approach is suited to forward pressure, but when he is on the backfoot and forced to box and react, his kicks can get stuffed in close and he looks a bit lost. In order to accomplish this, a lot of feinting and setups are required, so expect a lot of fainting from Moises and kicking for range control from Alvarez.
Moises vs. Alvarez Prediction
Moises should have the fluidity and range of different strikes to feint and keep Alvarez guessing and uncomfortable. With the level of grappling between both men it would be natural for both men to want to test themselves against each other on the mat, but even with Moises’ jiu-jitsu prowess, trying to take Alvarez down or jump a leg lock would be putting himself in unneeded danger. If he can stay composed I think he can win out on the feet, out wrestle Alvarez in the clinch, and do just enough to escape if Alvarez tries to jump for any desperate submissions.
Prediction: Thiago Moises to win via decision
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.