Frank Mir vs. Antonio Silva
My belief is that the sport of MMA has developed to the point where Mir’s skill set just doesn’t translate to enough effective offense. Mir doesn’t land takedowns often and his striking defense is very poor, especially when his back is against the fence. His submission game is great, but submissions are only as good as a fighter’s ability to take down his opponent. Silva’s chin can be cracked, but he has a better striking and takedown game than Mir, and in the unlikely event that Mir can take Silva down, Silva’s jiu-jitsu should be good enough to stay out of danger.
Pick: Antonio Silva by TKO
Edson Barboza vs. Michael Johnson
This is easily the fight I’m looking forward to the most on this card. It’s a striker vs. striker matchup, but while Johnson likes to pressure his opponent and throw punches, Barboza likes to maintain distance and fire away with kicks. With the fight in Brazil, I anticipate that Barboza will win any close fight that goes to decision. However, Barboza’s chin is a serious concern and Johnson has very good knockout power. I think Johnson’s potential to finish the fight by TKO should out-weigh the home advantage Barboza brings with him.
Pick: Michael Johnson by TKO
Sam Alvey vs. Cezar Ferreira
Alvey is a power puncher who doesn’t defend either strikes or takedowns particularly well. He thrives against an opponent who chooses to slug it out with him (as Dylan Andrews did) but is vulnerable against guys who will grapple. I would give Alvey the advantage standing against the low-output Ferreira, but I also recognize Ferreira as a fighter who is far more likely to go for takedowns than either Andrews or Tom Watson. I would love to pick the underdog in Alvey but I need to see him beat a grappler first.
Pick: Cezar Ferreira by decision
Rustam Khabilov vs. Adriano Martins
Martins seems to be a jack of all trades and master of none. He can strike, he can grapple, and he has knockout power, but isn’t particularly amazing at any one thing. Khabilov probably isn’t quite as good at pure submissions but should have a substantial advantage in the takedown game and in the clinch. In my mind, the best case scenario for Martins is if Khabilov chooses to box with him, but even in that situation, I wouldn’t favor Martins by much.
Pick: Rustam Khabilov by decision
Iuri Alcantara vs. Frankie Saenz
This could be a sneaky bad matchup for Alcantara, who is a talented striker and grappler, but has had serious issues with takedown defense and tends to fade when fights go past the first round. Saenz is a poor man’s Johny Hendricks, a fighter who hits hard and has good takedowns, but isn’t much of a pure kickboxer. It’s Saenz’s takedown game that worries me, and while it’s not enough for me to favor him outright, I’m very aware of the potential that Saenz could steal a decision with those takedowns, even in Brazil.
Pick: Iuri Alcantara by TKO
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Sean Strickland
There’s not much that’s fancy about Strickland’s game, but he’s a pretty good prospect due to having capable striking, good takedowns, and a good ground and pound game. I can only imagine that Strickland’s wrestling will be more effective after dropping to 170 pounds (assuming Strickland can make the weight cut without too much trouble). Ponzinibbio is a very dangerous striker but I question his ability to defend takedowns. I think he probably needs to knock Strickland out early if he wants to win this.
Pick: Sean Strickland by decision
Jessica Andrade vs. Marion Reneau
My thoughts on Reneau are pretty much the same as everybody else: yes, Reneau looked very impressive against Alexis Dufresne, but Dufresne’s striking was so poor that it’s hard to give Reneau too much credit for that win. She’s facing a much tougher opponent this time in Andrade, who will pressure Reneau from the opening bell and land strikes with serious volume. The X-factor is the youth advantage Andrade has, as she will enter the cage 14 years younger than Reneau. It’s hard to see an aspect of this fight where Reneau should be favored.
Pick: Jessica Andrade by decision
- William Macario over Matt Dwyer
- Tiago Trator over Mike De La Torre
- T.J. Waldburger over Wendell Oliveira, even though I’m a bit squeamish about Waldburger continuing to compete in MMA
- Cody Gibson over Douglas Silva De Andrade
- Ivan Jorge over Josh Shockley