Welcome to the MMA News’ Sleeper Scrap! The relentless schedule of the MMA world means that some fans don’t have a full look at a fight card until days before the event, leaving the promoters to decide which bouts you should be paying the most attention to.

Everyone wants to tune in for main events and fights that feature popular names, but that means meaningful or potentially action-packed matchups from elsewhere on fight cards sometimes get lost in the shuffle. A Sleeper Scrap might highlight interesting style matchups, fighters with notable storylines, or bouts that simply have the chance to be a Fight of the Night contender.

The Fighters

Hugo Paiva stopped four out of the five opponents he faced during his amateur career, and the 25-year-old carried those finishing skills into his pro debut when he defeated Caio Rocha in the first round.

“Pequeno” followed up his pro debut with another first-round finish before going the distance against Roque Junior, and two more stoppage-wins that brought his record to 5-0 led to the Brazilian joining the LFA for LFA 146. The 25-year-old came up short in a violent and closely-contested fight with Felipe dos Santos, and after finishing Erisson Ferreira in the first round at Thunder Fight 41 he’s set for his second fight under the LFA banner.

Paiva already has one LFA appearance under his belt. (Instagram: @hugopaivamma)

Marcos Degli also went undefeated as an amateur with three victories, but his pro career got off to a difficult start when he dropped consecutive decisions to David Costa and Marcéu Pasin.

Undeterred by an 0-2 start to his time as a pro, Degli earned a pair of first-round finishes before he also suffered a loss to Felipe dos Santos at Arena Pride MMA 2. That loss marked the Brazilian’s first fight of 2022, but he ended up fighting five more times that year and stopped every opponent he faced before most recently submitting Fernando Bonatto in the first round at Spartacus MMA 33 in March.

The Matchup

Paiva isn’t an especially big flyweight, but his opponents need to be wary of the weight he puts behind all of his punches whenever he’s within range.

The 25-year-old likes to work with low kicks while he stalks his opponents, and if allowed to dictate the pace of the fight he’ll look to get in tight and unload with big combinations. The Brazilian’s left hook to the body is arguably his favorite weapon, but the right hand that he likes to follow it with is just as capable of knocking his opponents out.

Paiva has a dangerous left hook. (Instagram: @hugopaivamma)

Paiva’s aggression and willingness to really sell out on his punches sometimes leaves him open to reactive takedowns, but “Pequeno” is adept at getting back to his feet quickly and is also quite good at bringing things to the mat himself as his opponents come forward.

Degli typically appears quite relaxed when the fight stays standing, and he loves to chip away at opponents with hard leg kicks while occasionally switching between stances.

Degli has finished his last six opponents. (Instagram @marcoss_tailandes)

“Tailandês” does a good job of partnering his low kicks with a solid jab, and he’s willing to mix that strike up to both the head and body of his opposition. When the 23-year-old does decide to charge forward he’ll rely a lot on hard 1-2’s, but like Paiva he’s also capable of landing a big right straight or left hook capable of sending opponents to the canvas.

Degli will occasionally mix in some flashy strikes like spinning back fists or flying knees, and although he’s had some struggles defending takedowns the Brazilian is a constant submission threat from his back or from top position.

The Stakes

The LFA is well established as one of the primary development organizations for the UFC, so if these two flyweights have plans of making it to MMA’s premier promotion that road may very well start with this fight.

Paiva unfortunately suffered his first career loss in his LFA debut against dos Santos, but considering how entertaining and competitive that fight was the Brazilian’s stock didn’t really drop much. Squeezing a first-round knockout in before returning to the LFA should certainly provide Paiva with a bit of momentum, and fans that caught his previous fight will probably be expecting him to put on a show.

Degli will try to impress fans in his LFA debut at LFA 159. (Instagram: @marcoss_tailandes)

Degli is now on a six-fight finishing streak following the up and down start to his pro career, and astoundingly he’s still just 23 years old. A matchup with Paiva certainly isn’t an easy way to make your promotional debut, but certainly “Tailandês” will feel confident about getting his hand raised for the first time in the LFA.

The LFA’s previous Brazil cards have typically turned out to be action-packed events, and this flyweight bout is a clear standout matchup from LFA 159. Both fighters are still very young but have already proven themselves to have considerable talent and finishing skills, so fans will want to make sure they don’t miss a second of the action.

You can catch up on previous editions of the MMA News’ Sleeper Scrap right here!

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