Sergio Pettis. Pic by SHERDOG.COM -click for source- Credit: Dave Mandel

In this day and age when fans throw around complaints like “over-saturation” and point to the “thinness” of MMA cards, UFC 167 is exemplar of what they actually want. Top to bottom, this is a stacked event.

This is why we should all fuss over some of it’s enticing preliminary bouts. One of which is the very interesting bantamweight fight between the debuting Sergio Pettis and the returning Will Campuzano.

I love this match-up. Campuzano is one of those guys that makes you wish the UFC didn’t have such a cutthroat policy to who they keep on their roster. After two losses the UFC sent him packing, so it’s great to see him have another opportunity here.

It’s too bad it’s on very short notice as Campuzano is replacing the injured Vaughan Lee. It’s also too bad that he’s facing one of the most anticipated prospects in the sport in Pettis.

A lot of hype surrounds the 20 year-old Pettis, and for good reason. You probably know him best as the younger brother of the current UFC lightweight champion and Cirque De Soleil acrobat, Anthony Pettis. You also know him for being a stud in his own right.

He’s undefeated as a pro at 9-0 with 6 finishes in equal measure of KO’s and submissions. Most recently in September, Pettis got his opponent James Porter, to panic-submit to a kimura while coolly reversing from bottom to top position. Before that, he casually sent Dillard Pegg crashing to the canvas for a TKO win at RFA 8.

Unlike his older brother, Sergio is more of a composed tactician in fights. He doesn’t look to land that one dynamic highlight reel strike that will get all the headlines. Maybe that’s because he hasn’t had to as none of his opponents have come close to beating him. If anything, he does do a cute little back flip after most of his wins, but otherwise it’s safe to say he’ll be looking to beat his opponent as quickly and as easily as he can.

Although he didn’t win much his first time around in the UFC and WEC, Campuzano was still a fun fighter to watch. He had those technical striking chops, but was always down for a brawl with flying knees and wild combos. He seemed to only have two speeds. One in which he’d stay technical and super relaxed, using barely any footwork at all.

Then he would switch to his wild slugfest mode where he’d sling punches from the hip. In the end, it was fun for fans but he’d lose most of his fights, finally getting cut after a barn burner with Chris Cariaso at the TUF 12 finale.

Now that Campuzano has had some seasoning with a successful 5-win spree outside the UFC, he’s looking to capitalize on this opportunity while in the prime of his career. At 27 years-old, he brings way more experience against higher level competition to this fight than his opponent.

Most recently, Campuzano earned the nod over Hideo Tokoro at Vale Tudo Japan – VTJ 3rd just last month. (Once again, this is a super short notice fight for him.) He’s also been finishing people too lately with two of his wins being caused by some heavy knee strikes.

Prediction: We haven’t seen anyone really challenge Sergio Pettis, but that will definitely change in this fight (With all due respect to Jimmy Jones who had some success in the stand-up at RFA 4, it was still an easy 29-28 decision win for Pettis). Campuzano is by far the best fighter Pettis has faced and it’ll be obviously competitive for that exact reason.

They may have a similar vibe to one another. They may like to hang back, and let their opponent dictate the pace. They may both have excellent kick-boxing. Campuzano will just have more success on the feet by being the better and rangier striker. I’m not confident at all in this pick, but I have to go with Will Campuzano by TKO in the 2nd round.