CURRENT RECORD 98-47-2
This weekend is UFC Fight Night 95 live from Brazil. Topping the bill is knockout artist Cristiane Justino, otherwise known as “Cris Cyborg”, as she takes on Linda Lansberg in a catch-weight bout of 140lbs. Worrying news broke this week about Cyborg still needing to cut 25lbs before the weigh-ins and fingers crossed she achieves it without any lasting damage to her health but this could be the last time we see the current Invicta champion attempt such a weight cut. Moving on to the co-main event and former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao will try make amends for his disappointing performance last time out as he steps into the Octagon against Phillipe “Super” Nover. Elsewhere on the card there is tantalising heavyweight battle between Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, lightweights Francisco Trinaldo and Paul Felder prepare to trade blows and Scotland’s Stevie Ray travels to Brazil to face Alan Patrick in his own back yard. The UFC have called out the big guns for this Fight Night card and there are a number of exciting match-ups that should lead to a thrilling night of fights, so be sure to be tuned in come Saturday.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course, put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
CRIS CYBORG vs. LINA LANSBERG
Why Cyborg persists on pushing her body to the limits with weigh cuts, is beyond me. She keeps teasing us with the prospect of facing Ronda Rousey but realistically that will never happen; Cyborg will never make 135lbs. For this catch-weight bout Cyborg has attempted 140lbs and has clearly struggled, I hope that cutting so much weight won’t lead to the fight being cancelled or worse still, the fight going ahead but her health failing her and Cyborg being beaten. But if there is to be no lasting issues, then expect Cyborg to win this in minutes, from her 18 career wins only 2 have ever gone the distance and the last time that happened was eight years ago. Lansberg has an almighty task on her hands here and although she is used to KO victories herself, this is a daunting task for any female fighter. If Lansberg was to somehow push this fight into the latter rounds, she would give herself a chance but honestly this should be a quick night’s work for Cyborg.
Cyborg by KO.
RENAN BARAO vs. PHILLIPE NOVER
Renan Barao was once seen as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport but since losing his belt to TJ Dillashaw he hasn’t looked the same fighter. A rematch with the pair had the same outcome and a step up to featherweight still hasn’t changed his fortunes, so this fight with Phillipe Nover has now become a must win. Nover returns after a 9 month absence and will make his third appearance for the UFC, going 1-1 so far. “Super” Nover is most dangerous when he takes the fight to the mat and uses his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to lock in a submission but Barao is also a black belt and vastly more experienced. Barao may have lost some of his fear factor, he was once undefeated for nine years, but he is still an elite fighter with an abundance of skill. This is Barao’s fight to lose and I expect him to make a statement with this victory.
Barao by submission.
ROY NELSON vs. ANTONIO SILVA
Both these massive heavyweights are on the wrong side of 35 but nonetheless they always bring the fight. Roy “Big Country” Nelson has become renowned for unleashing his haymaker on opponents chin’s, winning by KO 14 times but there is more to this Las Vegas natives game, than just one punch knockout power. Nelson is also a specialist on the mat and despite rarely engaging in a ground battle, it is a reliable skill to have. “Bigfoot” also has 14 KO’s to his name and holds a healthy 8 inch reach advantage for this bout but his game is more reliant on swinging while also eating a punch or two in the process. The big concern for Silva is how weathered his chin is, from his 9 losses, 8 have been by KO (including his last 2) and considering how he likes to fight, he is leaving himself open to be put away. This could go the distance but I think Nelson will end it early.
Nelson by KO.
FRANCISCO TRINALDO vs. PAUL FELDER
This has Fight of the Night written all over it, both these fighters constantly work and are always looking for the finish. Francisco Trinaldo comes here in fine form having won his last 6 fights against some tough opponents and he currently has a UFC record of 10-3. Despite being 38 years of age, Trinaldo has mixed his experience and his skill smartly to get opponents to fight his fight but he will need a new game plan if he is to overcome Paul Felder. Boston born Felder will always push the pace; he persistently moves forward and throws combinations that vary between kicks and punches. After two consecutive losses, Felder bounced back by winning his last two in impressive fashion. Neither of these men has ever been knocked out but that is the only way I see Felder winning this because of Brazil’s dodgy history of judges decisions. Unless Felder gets the finish I don’t think he gets the victory.
Trinaldo by decision.
THIAGO SANTOS vs. ERIC SPICELY
Thiago Santos returns after a devastating KO loss to Gegard Mousasi at UFC 200, a fight he took on short notice. Santos gained entry to the UFC after competing on the Ultimate Fighter and has built up a record of 5-3; he has fought some of the best middleweights in the division and holds a Knockout of the Night award after head-kicking Steve Bosse unconscious. Spicely is also a former competitor on the Ultimate Fighter and his UFC career didn’t get off to the best start when tapping out to Sam Alvey at Fight Night 91. From the two, I think it is Santos who is the better-rounded and holds the stronger skill set, he controls the fight better and is the more powerful puncher. I think Santos will want to keep this on the feet and look for the killer blow.
Santos by KO.
GODOFREDO PEPEY vs. MIKE DE LA TORRE
An injury has forced Godofredo Pepey to step in and take this fight on short notice which could potentially mean bad news for Mike De La Torre. Pepey is a dangerous submission specialist who takes his opponent down and relentlessly looks for the finish. De La Torre is by no means a slouch on the ground either but his standard isn’t at the same level and if he is to cause Pepey trouble he would be wise to drag him into a dog fight. If this fight goes to the mat I expect Pepey to end it quickly.
Pepey by submission.
Best of the Rest.
Gilbert Burns vs. Michel Prazeres
Burns to win.
Rani Yahya vs. Michinori Tanaka
Yahya to win.
Jussier Formiga vs. Dustin Ortiz
Formiga to win.
Erick Silva vs. Luan Chagas
Chagas to win.
Alan Patrick vs. Stevie Ray
Ray to win.
Vicente Luque vs. Hector Urbina
Luque to win.
Glaico Franca vs. Gregor Gillespie
Gillespie to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 13 predictions in an accumulator is about 230/1.
The conservative bet: Renan Barao to win by submission is 3/1
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