UFC Fight night 161 takes place on Saturday night in Florida and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Michelle Waterson
After an unsuccessful attempt to win the flyweight title against old rival Valentina Shevchenko, Jedrzejczyk returns to the division that she once ruled with an iron fist before Rose Namajunas became her nemesis.
Though she now has three losses in her last four fights I don’t see that as any reason to believe that Jedrzejczyk is past as her best as she remains an elite striker with excellent technical ability, combination punching, speed and footwork.
Waterson has solid stand-up of her own with kicks from range and punches as she moves forward, but the reality is that Jedrzejczyk is just the better all-round striker and will also be enjoying a 3″ height and 3.5″ reach advantage into the bargain.
With that in mind Waterson’s grappling will be crucial and that happens to be her strongest suit with throws from the clinch and submission attempts.
Jedrzejczyk has always had excellent takedown defense though and I think Waterson will struggle to get inside and bring her to the mat, while getting picked apart with punches in the process, leading to a convincing win on the scorecards for the former champion.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk wins by decision.
Kron Gracie vs. Cub Swanson
Kron Gracie has gone a perfect 5-0 in his MMA career to date, but he now faces a big step up in competition at a still relatively early stage in only his second UFC appearance against Cub Swanson.
Swanson’s had a tough time of it lately with a series of losses, but though he maybe slowing down a bit it’s worth noting that the standard of opposition has been high and he still remains a talented striker who could certainly pose problems for a still developing Gracie on the feet.
To be fair, Gracie has shown more potential and comfort in his striking than many others from his famous family, but it still would be unwise for him to try and take on Swanson there for extended periods.
However, when it comes to grappling, despite his years of experience, Swanson remains vulnerable to submissions – accounting for the majority of his career losses, and that’s a troubling statistic when going up against a decorated BJJ expert like Gracie.
Swanson will always have a chance on the feet, but I think Gracie will get him to the mat and from there it’s only a matter of time before he locks up a fight-ending submission.
Kron Gracie wins by submission in Rd1.
Mike Davis vs. Thomas Gifford
Davis comes into this fight on only four days notice, and like Gifford he’s got a lot to prove after losing in his UFC debut last time out.
Big for the lightweight division, Davis is a good striker and has heavy hands whether he’s standing or going for takedowns and landing ground and pound. In fact, six of his seven victories to date have come via TKO, so he’ll be looking for a finish here.
Gifford is also tall for the division and even has a slight reach advantage over Davis, but while he can strike, he’ll be at a power disdvantage and it’s on that mat that he is at his most dangerous and I think his crafty submission game will eventually catch out Davis and lead to a finish.
Thomas Gifford to win by submission in Rd2.
Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Ribas
Despite being one of female MMA’s most highly touted prospects, Dern’s career took an expected turn after two wins in the UFC when she announced that she was pregnant and would be taking time out from the sport.
18 months later she returns to action and will be tested by Amanda Ribas, who won her UFC debut by submission and holds an overall 7-1 record.
The 26-year-old’s Dern’s grappling credentials are well established at this stage, being one of the best BJJ players of her generation and that’s going to make life difficult for Ribas, who also is at her best on the mat, but is going to struggle to get anything going again a world class opponent.
Dern is much more green on the feet however, and though she is a willing striker, she is not technical. Nonetheless she is strong and has power in her punches and together with her grappling that should be enough to get the better of Ribas and return to the UFC with a submission victory.
Mackenzie Dern to win by submission in Rd2.
Max Frevola vs. Luis Pena
At 6ft 3″ tall, Pena will tower 6″ over Frevola on Saturday night and will also have an extra 5″ in reach to go along with it.
Pena does put those advantages to good use in the Octagon with strikes from range, although he is still hittable, while he also uses his long limbs on the mat to trouble opponents and work for submissions.
Frevola’s a tough, aggressive fighter with some power, but his defense isn’t the best as he charges forward. He can however also use his wrestling to try and work for takedowns here.
There’s technical difficiencies in both Pena and Frevola’s styles, but I feel Pena’s striking from range and trickiness on the mat will allow him to edge out the action here and earn a decision victory.
Luis Pena to win by decision.
Eryk Anders vs. Gerald Meerschaert
Eryk Anders has proven he has finishing power in his hands even up at 205lbs, and he’ll carry that threat back down to 185lbs for this fight.
That’s a worry for Meerschaert, who will have a slight reach advantage here, but doesn’t have much in the way of firepower to back that up and will likely have to look for other avenues to make his mark in this fight.
It just so happens that Meerschaert has a tried and tested ability to finish fights by submission, so that gives him a clear path to victory, but I think Anders is going to be too strong, athletic and heavy handed to enable him to get the time on the mat he needs and will eventually get stopped by strikes in the second round.
Eryk Anders to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Niko Price vs. James Vick
Devin Clark vs. Ryan Spann
Tim Elliott vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Max Griffin vs. Alex Morono
Miguel Baeza vs. Hector Aldana
Marvin Vettori vs. Andrew Sanchez
J.J. Aldrich vs. Lauren Mueller
Marlon Vera vs. Andre Ewell