UFC Fight Night 106 takes place in Brazil on Saturday night and we’ve got predictions for all the bouts below.
Vitor Belfort vs. Kelvin Gastelum
At 39-years-old, Belfort is resisting the urge to hang up his gloves despite having lost three of his last four fights by TKO, but it’s perhaps telling that this week he’s been calling for a ‘Legends League’ in the UFC where veterans can compete against each other.
To be fair, his recent losses all came against high-ranking opposition, but while Belfort is still a lethal striker, he’s clearly not same physical specimen he was during the TRT-era when he was demolishing opponents, and these days he only appears to be truly potent offensively early in the fight, then fades away.
Gastelum is the younger man by no less than 14-years and cardio won’t be a problem for him, with a fast-paced, pressure-heavy style being a hallmark of his game, and one that’s likely to serve him well against Belfort.
Given his opponents aggressive style there will be potential opportunities for Belfort to strike, but Gastelum is a tough customer whose never been stopped before, and if he’s able to put ‘The Phenom’ on the backfoot and take him past the first round I think we’ll see the veteran start to wilt, leading to a third round TKO stoppage.
Kelvin Gastelum to win by TKO in Rd3.
Maurício Rua vs. Gian Villante
Though he’s younger than Vitor Belfort, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua is in a somewhat similar position in that he’s not the fighter he once was, with many years of fighting having taken a toll on him physically and weakened his chin.
Nevertheless, ‘Shogun’ has shown he’s not completely shot yet after back-to-back decision wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Corey Anderson, and he’s now been handed favorable match-up with Villante that gives him a decent chance to extend that run.
Villante will fancy his chances here too. He’s more than happy to get into a dogfight and his size and power will be a concern for Rua, who just can’t take a punch the way he used to.
Despite that troubling vulnerability I am leaning towards ‘Shogun’ as he is still the better striker overall, and given that Villante has a lot of holes defensively I think his eagerness to engage early will cost him as the Brazilian lands something big that ends his night.
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua to win by TKO in Rd1.
Edson Barboza vs. Beneil Dariush
An interesting clash of style here as one of the lightweight division’s most dangerous strikers, Barboza, faces up to one it’s most talented grapplers, Dariush.
Barboza will be happy to work on the outside here, relying on his vicious kicking game, movement and combinations to keep Dariush at bay, while his takedown defense is solid should have to use it – and more than likely he will.
In a pure striking battle Dariush would likely come off second-best, but he’s good enough on the feet to stay somewhat competitive in shorter doses, while he presses forward looking to set up grappling opportunities.
Dariush is good in the clinch and has decent takedowns, but it’s when he gets his opponents to the mat that he truly shines and provides a serious submission threat that Barboza will be eager to avoid.
This is a close fight and much may depend on whether Dariush is successful in taking Barboza down. I think he may end up getting bogged down, struggling to get the Brazilian down against the cage for large periods of time, and with Barboza being able to get the better of the striking exchanges, that will prove to be the decisive factor on the judges scorecards.
Edson Barboza to win by decision.
Jussier Formiga vs. Ray Borg
This is an interesting flyweight fight that will get particularly intriguing if they go to ground.
Both men can mix it up on the feet if required, but it’s really the grappling realm that they excel, and that should lead to some fun scrambles and submission attempts.
Borg is the younger, more energetic man, but Formiga is more experienced and technically very sound, so that gives him a slight edge here in my eyes and will lead him to a closely-fought decision victory.
Jussier Formiga to win by decision.
Bethe Correia vs. Marion Reneau
The 39-year-old Reneau may be six years Correia’s elder, but she’s still the better athlete heading into this fight.
Correia is a tough customer though and makes up for her lack of speed and agility with her aggressive, brawling approach to fighting and that could help her overpower her opponent on Saturday night.
Reaneau has a good submission game, but I think she’ll have a hard time getting Correia down in order to demonstrate it, and that will cost her as she comes out on the wrong side of the judges decision.
Bethe Correia to win by decision.
Alex Oliveira vs. Tim Means
The last meeting between these two ended in a controversial ‘no contest’ ruling after Means landed what were deemed to be illegal knees to his grounded opponent, leaving him unable to continue.
Means believes Oliveira overplayed the situation and he’s eager to settle the score once and for all on Saturday night. He’s in a good position to do just that as he looked to have ‘Cowboy’s’ number in that fight, for as long as it lasted.
Means muay thai and higher work-rate should stand him in good stead here, with his lanky frame allowing him to be effective with kicks and punches from range, while his knees and elbows from closer range and will take their toll on Oliveira and lead to a second round stoppage.
Tim Means to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims: (Predicted winners in bold)
Francisco Trinaldo vs. Kevin Lee
Sérgio Moraes vs. Davi Ramos
Rani Yahya vs. Joe Soto
Michel Prazeres vs. Josh Burkman
Rony Jason vs. Jeremy Kennedy
Garreth McLellan vs. Paulo Borrachinha