The UFC Vegas 31 main card kicks off with a featured featherweight fight that almost guarantees fireworks. Gabriel Benitez and Billy Quarantillo make their first octagon appearances of the year in a pivotal matchup for the two competitors.
“Moggly” returns to featherweight following a two-fight stint up at lightweight where he went 1-1 including a POTN effort in his last outing against Justin Jaynes. Meanwhile, his counterpart Quarantillo hopes to rebound from his first defeat inside the octagon, which came via decision at the hands of Gavin Tucker.
As two athletes with hopes of ascending into the top-15 one day, the outcome of this bout will send them in opposite directions.
Gabriel Benitez (22-8, 6-4 UFC)
After dominating the regional scene in Mexico from 2007-2014, Benitez was offered a chance to compete on The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 1 under Team Cain Velasquez. After losing in the semifinals, “Moggly” made his long-awaited UFC debut against Humberto Brown Morrison. From there, it’s been a rather up and down tenure for the Mexican native, but the 33-year-old proved in his last outing that he’s as dangerous as ever.
Benitez has spent many years training at the renowned American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Lately, he’s expanded his reach a bit by putting in quality hours at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. Expect to see an extremely motivated and determined “Moggly” at UFC Vegas 31.
Billy Quarantillo (15-3, 3-1 UFC)
It’s taken little time for Quarantillo to become a fan favorite within the UFC. Born in New York, Quarantillo came up fighting in Florida’s and Virginia’s regional circuit. Notably, he knocked out Khama Worthy just before receiving the call to appear on The Ultimate Fighter Season 22. After losing in the quarterfinals, Quarantillo returned to regional promotions to earn his spot on the Contender Series in 2019, where he would earn the sought-after contract.
The 32-year-old has more than proved his worth through four UFC appearances by submitting Jacob Kilburn and stopping Kyle Nelson via TKO. Quarantillo flaunts a BJJ black belt under the tutelage of Matt Arroyo and he still does the bulk of his training down in Tampa, Florida. The rising featherweight considers his first octagon defeat a “wake-up call” as he tries to bounce back.
First, a little housekeeping before getting into the nitty-gritty. This UFC Vegas 31 main card matchup pins an orthodox fighter in Benitez up against a southpaw fighter in Quarantillo. “Moggly” holds a minor one-inch reach advantage, while standing two inches shorter than “Billy Q”.
As far as striking goes, you can bet your bottom dollar that Quarantillo is going to keep a relentless pace for as long as the fight lasts. His forward pressure is very difficult for opponents to deal with as he’s shown to be more than willing to eat a shot to land one of his own. His solid chin allows him to walk opponents down at will, and if he gets his counterpart up against the cage expect him to rip to the body to open up strikes to the head. Volume and output is the name of his game more often than not.
Benitez, like most fighters, also fights at his best when he’s moving forward. However, he prefers to stay more at range so he can mix up his attack with violent kicks. “Moggly” possesses a more unpredictable striking arsenal than his foe at UFC Vegas 31. This can be seen in many of his fights as he often follows his left head kick with a straight left hand out of the southpaw stance. Power advantage goes to Benitez, while an output edge favors Quarantillo.
If this contest goes to the ground it’s not by Benitez’s choice. In fact, in 10 UFC appearances, he’s successfully landed just one takedown. Conversely, we might see Quarantillo initiate grappling sequences as he’s likely well aware of the advantage he holds in that department.
The longer this fight goes, the more it benefits “Billy Q”. Despite it occurring in his previous outing, very rarely do you see Quarantillo get outworked over the course of three rounds.
Who do you see prevailing from Gabriel Benitez vs Billy Quarantillo? Drop your prediction in the comment section!
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