Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight scrappers Alex Caceres and Wang Guan threw down last night (Nov. 25) at UFC Fight Night 122 inside the Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai, China.
It’s been an up-and-down path through the UFC ranks for “Bruce Leeroy,” who has found success in a pair of divisions but recently struggled with consistency. Nevertheless, Caceres has always been exciting, and his only recent defeats came to the division’s top prospects.
Looking to add his name to that list was “The Dongbei Tiger.” One of China’s brightest prospects, the knockout artist hoped to make a big impact in his UFC debut.
Caceres opened the bout with kicks, but Guan was waiting to counter with his crisp right hand. “Bruce Leeroy” stuck to his game plan, but an elbow from the newcomer stunned the American and led him to look for the clinch takedown.
The takedown didn’t land, but Caceres was able to clear his head. The fighters exchanged at a solid rate, and both men landed well. Caceres found his range in the final two minutes, landing some solid strikes and avoiding the counter shots. Guan stole the momentum back in the final 10 seconds, however, dropping Caceres badly.
Judging by how Caceres wobbled back to his corner, Guan very likely would have finished the bout.
Guan attacked at the start of the second but was unable to land anything to devastating. When Caceres settled back into his movement, however, Guan was able to time another massive right hand that wobbled his legs.
The rest of the round moved in similar fashion. Caceres would start to land with quick shots and nice left kicks, but Guan would find a home for his right hand, and that shot was far more effective than anything Caceres had previously landed.
With five minutes remaining, Caceres needed something big.
Guan remained sharp into the third, catching Caceres with a heavy counter left and dropping him with another right not long after. Caceres’ durability was remarkable, but otherwise he was really struggling to find success.
In the final two minutes, Caceres began to land with his kicks more often as Guan’s volume dipped a bit. Unfortunately, Caceres’ punches still weren’t landing all that consistency, and he’s never been the heaviest hitter anyway. Caceres finished the bout with some effective aggression, which is certainly a moral victory after nearly getting knocked out in the opening round.
It was far from enough to earn him the real victory though.
With this performance, Guan proved himself a UFC-level fighter. Throughout the card, a number of unknown Chinese fighters debuted. Most had solid records, but some fought terribly and others looked sharp. Guan is firmly in the latter category, as he debuted against an experienced UFC fighter and came ahead clearly.
Guan has a very meat-and-potatoes game. On his feet, he threw accurate counter punches and showed that he could lead as well, hiding his advance behind the jab in order to get close enough to land the right. Additionally, he picked his moments to kick well, timing the odd second that Caceres stood still at kicking range.
Alongside solid conditioning and defensive wrestling, that was enough to get him the win in this match up. In all likelihood, it’s not enough to carry Guan into the top 15, but he should be able to carve out a spot for himself in the Featherweight division.
As for Caceres, it’s a disappointing loss. No one can doubt his gameness, but this feels like a mediocre performance from “Bruce Leeroy.” For a fighter who loves movement, he was far too hittable. Additionally, there was never any real attempt to bring the fight to the mat, where Caceres likely had a big advantage.
Until Caceres can solve these issues, he’ll be stuck as a gatekeeper at 145 lbs.
Last night, Wang Guan secured his first UFC victory on the strength of his kickboxing. Who should the Chinese athlete face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 122 “Bisping vs. Gastelum” results and play-by-play, click HERE!