The UFC returns to Tampa Bay, Florida for the third time, with an important headliner in the Women’s Strawweight division. Former Strawweight queen, Joanna Jedrzejcyzk looks to return to the division she once dominated and get back what’s hers. Meanwhile, Michelle Waterson has other plans. The former Invicta Atomweight Champion has had a resurgence of late and defeating the former Strawweight Champion would catapult her to a title shot.
UFC Fight Night 161 Main Card On ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
115 lbs.: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Michelle Waterson – As much as Waterson has improved of late, this is a bad matchup. Even a compromised Jedrzejczyk takes this easily. I feel like Jedrzejczyk’s ability to keep this fight upright and use her volume striking gets the job done. I’m calling this a dominant decision victory for Jedrzejcyzk.
145 lbs.: Kron Gracie vs. Cub Swanson – A part of feels like this is way too soon for Gracie, especially given how talented Swanson is. However, I recognize Swanson’s best weapon, striking hasn’t really done much for him of late. He’s dropped four straight and hasn’t knocked anyone out since Dennis Siver in 2013. Then again, if Gracie can’t get this to the mat, then it’s all Cub. Let’s go with that, Swanson via decision.
170 lbs.: Niko Price vs. James Vick – I’m so happy Vick moved up in weight, but good lord did you need to fight a savage that cracks like Price right out of the gate? This just feels like a bad matchup for a chinny Vick. So with that, I’ll take Price via knockout
115 lbs.: Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Ribas – Momma Dern made weight easily. I smell a flawless submission victory coming right up!
155 lbs.: Max Frevola vs. Luis Pena – I gotta admit, Pena looked dam good last time out. I’m going to need to see a repeat performance though for me to jump on the bandwagon. Frevola has the striking and wrestling to make this a sloppy and grind of a fight. Exactly the ones he excels at. So with that, I have Frevola via decision.
205 lbs.: Eryk Anders vs. Gerald Meerschaert – I’m conflicted. Meerschaert is as tough as nails and can absolutely prevail if he turns this fight into a high pace brawl. Anders though can absolutely crack. My only concern is his cardio, but given he’s been fighting 20 lbs above his old weight class, cardio issues shouldn’t hamper him too much. In the end, I can see Meerschaert grinding down Anders, but I’m going with the power of Anders to stop Meerschaert. So with that, I have Anders winning via TKO.
UFC Fight Night 161 Prelims Card On ESPN+ (5 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Ryan Spann – While Clark has the wrestling to stifle any opponent, Light Heavyweight just seems too big of a weight class for him. Spann will have a five inch height advantage, as well as a 6.5 inch reach advantage. With power on the feet and solid grappling, it’s only a matter of time before Spann finishes the undersized Clark. So with that, I have Spann winning via submission.
155 lbs.: Mike Davis vs. Thomas Gifford – While Gifford is tough, I have a feeling this is Mike Davis’s coming out party. With the power he possesses, I foresee a UFC career that features many highlight reel knockouts. So with that, I have Davis winning via knockout.
125 lbs.: Tim Elliott vs. Deiveson Figueiredo – This fight deserves a spot on the main card. Elliott is non stop action, peppering foes with volume and throwing in the occasional takedown. Figueiredo is a solid striker, whom features perhaps the heaviest hands in the Flyweight division. While I favor Elliott due to volume and durability, his fight IQ can be dreadful at times. I’ve seen way to many Elliott fight where he scrambles and puts himself in a dangerous position. And you know what, Figueiredo is a formidable grappler to take advantage. So with that, I’m going with Figueiredo via submission.
170 lbs.: Max Griffin vs. Alex Morono – Fun fight, but I’m going with Griffin. I believe his ability to wrestle and rack up a few takedowns will be the difference in a pretty fun back-and-forth battle. So with that, I have Griffin winning via decision.
170 lbs.: Miguel Baeza vs. Hector Aldana – I hear from the woodworks that Baeza can absolutely throw bombs. And given Aldana’s susceptibility to get hit, I’m thinking Baeza wins this pretty early via knockout.
185 lbs.: Marvin Vettori vs. Andrew Sanchez – Ive been big on Sanchez due to his wrestling, but I’ve been burnt one too many time by his dreadful cardio. Vettori, while not a world beater, is fairly consistent. He’s tough to takedown and can strike with the best of them. I mean, he lost via split decision to the Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya. So with that, I’ve got Vettori to edge this out via decision.
125 lbs.: J.J. Aldrich vs. Lauren Mueller – I believe J.J. Aldrich is a better all around fighter and should slightly outwork Mueller for a decision victory.
135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Andre Ewell – Fun fight, but Ewell has shown a real issue with his takedown defense. Vera is a solid striker, but his grappling should shine in this fight. Ewell’s only chance is to stay upright and counter, but his poor takedown defense is too juicy not to exploit. So with that, I have Vera winning via submission.