Fight Picks – UFC Fight Night 61: Bigfoot vs. Mir

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Another week, another fairly run of the mill fight night show from the UFC as the joyous memories from January slowly slip away from MMA fans around the globe. This time the Ginásio Gigantinho in Porto Alegre, Brazil plays host to what is another up and down card.

Frank Mir vs. Antonio Silva

Headlining the card is the heavyweight bout between out-of-form and over-the-hill MMA veterans Frank Mir and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Mir is one of the true legends in the history of MMA. The American is a multiple time UFC title holder and has wins over the likes of Brock Lesnar, Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Silva also has quite the line up of victims in what most consider an overachieving career. The Brazilian has knocked out Pride legends Alistair Overeem and Fedor Emelianenko as well as top ranked UFC contender Travis Brown. Unfortunately, both men are former TRT exemption holders and have hit a stumbling block in their respective careers due to its revoking and their natural downward sporting trajectory due to age, wear and tear. Mir has lost four fights in a row while Silva’s last three outings have ended in two losses and a draw where he failed a drug test.

The fight itself is predicated on many variable factor that we don’t really know. Both men have been out of the cage for quite a while and neither man is getting any younger. Mir is arguably the best submission artist in the history of heavyweight MMA. He is likely to want to drag this one to the ground and look to latch onto a limb. Silva, though, is no slouch on the mat and holds a bjj black belt. Bigfoot’s gameplan will probably be to test the chin of Mir early before taking him down to exert more damage with ground and pound if he survives the early onslaught. This isn’t the easiest fight to make a pick on as we don’t know how either man will show up but I’m going with Silva based on the fact he is more likely to get a knockout than Mir is to get a submission.

Pick – Silva via KO

Michael Johnson vs. Edson Barboza

The best fight on the card, by a country mile, is the wonderful match up of lightweights Michael Johnson and Edson Barboza. In an ultra stacked 155 lbs division both of these fighters have had their expected setbacks but are now reaching their peak and bordering on the elite. Barboza’s only two career losses have come to veterans Jamie Varner and Donaldo Cerrone while he has wins over Evan Dunham, Ross Pearson and Bobby Green. After a 9-6 start to his career, Johnson has only lost two of his last eight – taking out the likes of Danny Castillo, Tony Ferguson and Joe Lauzon in that time.

There aren’t many ways this fight can turn out to be bad. Barboza is one of the most feared strikers in the promotion. The Brazilian is a Muay Thai specialist who has improved his boxing exponentially working in Frankie Edgar’s camp over the last few years. Add that to the most ferocious kicks ever seen in MMA and it makes a tough task for anyone. Johnson is well up for the challenge though. After the aforementioned shaky career start he has also established himself as a real contender due largely to his time working with the Blackzilian camp in Florida. Johnson has good offensive wrestling but his slick, hurtful, speedy boxing is his main attribute. Both of these guys tend to rise of fall to the level of their competition which makes for a fantastic fight here. Johnson is likely to want to close the distance and box Barboza in the pocket while looking for takedowns when he can. Barboza will want to stop those wrestling attempts and keep his range while attacking with kicks and combinations of punches on the way in and back out. My pick here, though, has to be Barboza. I think the Brazilian has enough to stop Johnson’s takedowns and will do serious damage when they exchange. Getting into a striking match with Edson Barboza isn’t good for your health and I don’t think Johnson can avoid that from happening.

Pick – Barboza via KO

Cesar Ferreira vs. Sam Alvey

Outside of the top two bouts, this card doesn’t offer too much by the way of top ranked fighters but the meeting of Cesar “Mutante” Ferreira and Smilin’ Sam Alvey should be an fun little scrap. Alvey is a veteran of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ who made his way into the UFC by winning the MFC title when he wasn’t offered a contract following his stint in the TUF house. Since entering the Octagon, the American has won one fight, against Dylan Andrews, and lost one, against Tom Watson. Mutante is also a veteran of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ having participated in the very first season of Brazilian version. As an official UFC fighter, Ferreira has been impressive in winning four of his five fights with his only loss coming to CB Dollaway.

Alvey is a well rounded fighter although he doesn’t possess anything, at the moment, to suggest he will be climbing the ranks any time soon. He has a pretty offensive wrestling game but struggles to gain control when it hits the deck. In the striking, Alvey has a tight attack based game and with 15 career wins via KO he is always dangerous. Mutante is more of a physically imposing man. The Brazilian is protégé of current middleweight number one contender Vitor Belfort and trains with him currently at the Blacklizian camp. Ferreira brings a varied attack to fights. He is a high level jiu-jitsu black belt and should have a big advantage over Alvey in that area. On the feet, Mutante is still improving but has big power in both hands. My pick for this fight has to be Ferreira. He should be quicker to every exchange on the feet, dominate all aspects of the wrestling game and get the submission pretty quickly.

Pick – Ferreira via submission

SHORT PICKS

Rustam Khabilov vs. Adriano Martins – Khabilov dominates and gets the KO
Iuri Alcântara vs. Frankie Saenz – Alcantara via easly submission
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Sean Strickland Ponzinibbio to give Strickland his first loss
Jéssica Andrade vs. Marion Reneau – Andrade via decision
William Macário vs. Matt Dwyer – Macário to get the KO
Tiago Trator vs. Mike de la Torre – Trator via last stoppage
Wendell Oliveira vs. TJ Waldburger – I’m taking Waldburger to bounce back with a decision win
Douglas Silva de Andrade vs. Cody Gibson – Dominant decision win for Gibson
Ivan Jorge vs. Josh Shockley – Rear Naked Choke win for Jorge

BONUS PICKS

Fight of the night – Barboza vs. Johnson

Performance of the night – Mutante and Barboza

BET OF THE WEEK

My bet this week is a 2/1 treble of Mutante, Barboza and Bigfoot.

START TIMES (SUNDAY NIGHT)

Early Prelims – 10pm on Fight Pass

Prelims – 11pm on BT Sport 1

Main Card – 1am on BT Sport 1

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma