Renato Moicano Vs Brad Riddell (UFC 281)

UFC 281

Renato Moicano Vs Brad Riddell

Renato Moicano took on Brad Riddell at UFC 281, which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The whole card was great, and the main event was a perfect ending to a night with impressive finishes. One fight that stood out to me before and after the event was Moicano Vs. Riddell. I thought their frames and fight styles would lead to an exciting fight, and it ended up being all action. A few days after the fight Brad Riddell announced he would likely be retiring as a fighter. He has a few surgeries to take care of and thinks he would better off preserving his quality of life while still training and being a trainer. Hats off to Riddell, and all the more impact added to Moicano’s win. Usually when a fighter retires it’s clear they don’t have much left, but I think Riddell did a great job firing back and ultimately found success in the last exchange on the feet. Moicano had a big edge in grappling going in, particularly in good fundamental jiu jitsu, and used that to finish the fight after getting tagged. 

The beginning of the fight included Moicano taking the center of the Octagon and pushing Riddell back for a bit, before landing a stiff jab as Riddell circled out. Moicano’s striking has been improving quickly, and the straight punches with no load up landed often. A much better option to the looping hooks and uppercuts of a few fights ago. As Moicano goes in for the second jab, Riddell fired back with a feeler jab then right hook. Moicano steps back, and as Riddell going to fake a level change Moicano fires a knee up the middle that hits mostly chest, but certainly some chin/face. Moicano continuing to apply pressure with a lead straight, mixing in straight rights every other exchange. Riddell begins throwing non-threatening check hooks to try to deter, but Moicano just keeps stepping out of range. Usually Riddell would be throwing combos or getting completely out of the range. Riddell not following through 100% with anything, so after a few exchanges Moicano finds jab timing again and lands flush. Riddell mixes up the timing and comes over Moicano’s straight with a right, and then steps back like he’s trying to get away. This time he uses that read Moicano made to set a trap, baiting Moicano to come in for the straight again. Riddell lands the lead left hook to feel distance and then a hard right over the retracting lead left hand of Moicano. It lands flush on chin/neck, leading Moicano to immediately secure a body-lock.  

City Kickboxing has done a great job preparing their fighters with defensive grappling for up to about the brown belt level. Unfortunately for Riddell, Moicano is a black belt that excels in fundamentals. Moicano drags Riddell into the cage by dropping a knee and turning over. Bad sign that Riddell didn’t immediately start to circle away to peel, as Moicano quickly secured a hook while getting his body between Riddell’s shoulder and the cage. You cannot peel off a fighter by pushing him into the cage, if he’s the barrier between you and the cage. Moicano threatens the neck once hooks are in, and the weight shift from Riddell lifting a hand off the mat to defend choke lets Moicano sink in a perfect body triangle from behind. Moicano follows good fundamentals of repeatedly attacking the neck with one hand at a time, never over extending and risking losing the position. With each hand fight sequence, Moicano gets lower and lower and closer to the neck. The final hand fight was when Riddell went 2on1 to Moicano, and Moicano used that to get a whole arm through on the far side. Riddell then has to fully commit to both hands pushing the arm away from getting under the chin, which Moicano answers perfectly and puts  the arm cage-side right under the neck. As Riddell goes to fight the last angle adjustment, Moicano uses his left hand to pull down Riddell’s. Brings it back up to cinch in the choke on his right hand, and Riddell wisely taps quick. 

Commentary seems to be focusing on the fact Brad Riddell was not fighting the hands at the very end, but he had been fighting them for 15 seconds without success. Success being improving the position, not just slowing the finish. He also was trying until the choke was locked in, at which point Moicano’s squeeze was probably absurd. Riddell was losing the hand positioning fight, and as mentioned above, even tried desperate attempts of 2-on-1’s to try to buck Moicano off. There is only so much you can do with such a large disparity in that category.  


Renato Moicano continues to show improvement fight after fight. From technique, to starting gameplans, to in fight adjustments, all aspects have been visibly improved. There were times previously where if Moicano was finding success on the feet early, but then got timed, he would want to get those shots right back. Against Riddell, he didn’t overuse the straight he was finding success with. Once Riddell has found the timing of it two exchanges in a row, Moicano immediately body-locked and ultimately finished. It’s a nasty trifecta to be good at range, great in clinch, and elite on the ground. Moicano secured his place in the top 15 at 155, and the UFC rankings agree as he now sits at #13. 

Brad Riddell ended up retiring as a fighter a few days after the fight, with injuries and disappointment in overall performances being why. He will still contribute a lot to the sport as a representative, trainer, and member of the space. I think the fact he showed he can still make reads, even after he’s been read, makes for a good ability to train and corner other fighters as a part of CKB. 

What’s Next? 

With Moicano at #13 now, I’d like to see him take on Dan Hooker or Jalin Turner next. They are very close in rank, and I think both would test Moicano in ways that would be insightful going forward. Hooker looking to avenge Riddell as well as being a high-iq striker, and Turner being able to really punish over-aggression and be the better athlete. Since he’s not a big lightweight, he can always be a short-notice fighter if he thinks it would benefit him. 

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Live Fight Notes for Transparency and Documentation

Moicano immediately takes the center of the octagon, and lands stiff jab with no loading up. Goes for it again and Riddell returns with a hook, Moicano comes back with a 2.

Riddell feints level change, Moicano knee up middle mostly hits chest but did catch some face. Brad visibly wobbled. 

Brad moving a lot more in terms of pivoting his feet slightly and keeping guard up, but as soon as he plants for kick Moicano throws and lands over the guard. 

Riddell comes lunging in with a straight right looping lead hook to stop Moicano from walking him down 

High kick from Moicano as Riddell is walking back to cage comes over Riddell’s hands and lands on top of head. They trade right after and Moicano lands a straight right while stepping back and ending the engagement. Previously would brawl or chase in that moment, nice fight IQ improvement

Finding success with the stiff jab and sticking to it, throwing his right about half the time to follow it up. Moving the whole time and not hanging around to get tagged in response 

Riddell lands a good lands a good lead hook while circling out 

Moicano corner screams to jab for 5 seconds straight. It’s honestly the right call 

“Guard up and Jab!” Jabs. If Riddell was more of a threat he would probably have his guard up, but feels good enough to hunt. Probably a -EV move. 

Moicano starts cross shelling as Brad starts throwing back. 

Brad nearly lands with the right hook, then lands pretty flush on the next beat. Moicano gets a body lock and turns him, driving him against the cage. Immediately gets his shoulder between Riddell and the fence to prevent the easy peel off. With each attack of the neck that Riddell defends, Moicano improves position. From one hook in and wrist control to perfectly sunk in body triangle right around the hips to prevent Riddell from having hip mobility. 3 repetitions of attack neck with one hand and arm, force defense with two hands, use free hand to dig, repeat. Eventually gets under the chin and that’s a wrap. 


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