UFC Fight Night 61 is a rare Sunday event taking place Feb. 22 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. As is tradition the card will feature many native Brazilian fighters, including Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the main event. The fans in the Brazilian crowd are some of the most lively in the world. The lively Brazilian crowd adds to the atmosphere of the night and usually leads to an exciting night of fights.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key matchups Sunday night.
Jessica Andrade vs Marion Reneau
Jessica Andrade is one of the biggest locks of the night. Andrade is in a rare position where she has both the experience and age advantage in this fight. Reneau has only amassed 6 pro fights and is 37 years old. Andrade has twice as many pro fights and is only 23 years old. There’s just as big of a gap in the level of competition the two have faced as well. In Reneau’s only UFC appearance she faced Alexis Dufresne. Dufresne’s performance in the fight was so poor that she was cut from the UFC shortly after the fight. Dufresne looked awful in the fight and Reneau wasn’t able to get a finish which doesn’t bode well for her against Andrade. Andrade is a legitimate women’s bantamweight contender. She’s ranked #10 in the world and is coming off an impressive submission victory.
Pick Andrade -240 @5Dimes
Iuri Alcantara vs Frankie Saenz
Unfortunately the odds on this fight have soared of late. Iuri Alcantara opened at -305 and has fallen all the way to -550. That’s not a very good return on your dollar there. Alcantara has a ridiculous amount of experience, 37 professional fights. Alcantara is an extremely talented and well rounded bantamweight. He’s ranked #8 in the world. Saenz is unranked with only one fight in the UFC. I’m looking for Alcantara to get a finish here, a KO/TKO seems very likely.
Pick Iuri Alcantara wins inside the distance -125 @5Dimes
Rustam Khabilov vs Adriano Martins
Khabilov and Martins are both 3-1 in the UFC. Both fighters have a few impressive victories over solid competition and their only losses are against the lightweight elite. Martins suffered his first UFC loss after a spectacular highlight reel headkick from Donald Cerrone. Khabilov’s loss came against former champion Benson Henderson. The fight with Henderson went to the 4th round before Benson was able to secure the finish. Spending that much time in the octagon with a former champion had to be a great learning experience for Khabilov. Both fighters are great prospects but I look for Khabilov’s grappling game to be the difference maker.
Pick Khabilov wins by Decision +111 @5Dimes
Michael Johnson vs Edson Barboza
Johnson vs Barboza is the most anticipated fight of the night for many MMA fans. Barboza has won two in a row after being submitted by Donald Cerrone in April of 2014. Barboza has an elite stand-up game and is one of the hardest kickers in the sport, but he has yet to shown that if he gets taken down he’ll be able to recover. I think Johnson will be competitive enough in the striking exchanges to earn some respect from Barboza, which will lead to Johnson being able to take Barboza down and grind out a victory. Barboza won his last fight against Bobby Green, but Green chose to stand and trade with Barboza. Michael Johnson will show a much higher fight IQ and will take the fight wherever he needs to in order to get the win.
Pick Michael Johnson +130 @5Dimes (At +130 this is a must bet. If you’re betting on one fight this weekend it needs to be this one)
Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva vs Frank Mir
There’s not a lot of tread left on the tires for either of these aging heavyweights. Both fighters are on significant losing streaks. The loser of this matchup will have to seriously consider retirement as there days of competing for a title will be all but over. One thing is for sure in this fight, somebody is getting KO’s or submitted. I don’t see this fight entering the 3rd round, much less last all five.
I see Silva taking this fight, but at -310 the fight isn’t really worth your money. I’d suggest a prop bet for this outing. When these big guys get in to the octagon somebody is going down early, especially with fighters who have a history of finishing fights early like these two. Bigfoot Silva has 24 professional fights and has only seen the 3rd round five times. Frank Mir has 25 professional fights and has also only seen the 3rd round five times.
Somebody is going down in round one or two for sure.
Pick fight won’t start round 3 -159 @5Dimes