UFC Fight Night 61 is going to be a little unique. The October 1, 13- fight card, held at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, will be closed to the public and media due to Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg renting out the facility, according to UFC star Mackenzie Dern.
Dern will face Xionan Yan in the event’s main event. Saturday’s action will get underway at 4 p.m. (EST), with the main card starting at 7. ESPN+ will be streaming all bouts.
Bantamweight: Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones
This bantamweight bout features two fighters looking to end losing skids. Barcelos (13-3) and Jones (13-8) have both lost two straight matches.
I am going with Barcelos to be the one to get out of the funk. The 35-year-old Brazilian ranked No. 25 in the division, is the more aggressive striker and better grappler in this matchup. Meanwhile, Jones has some ability but has not found any consistency.
Best Bet: Barcelos to win (-230)
Bantamweight: John Castaneda vs. Daniel Santos
Castaneda (19-5) looks to continue to climb up the MMA rankings as he faces Santos (9-2). The 30-year-old, ranked 34th in the division, has won his last two fights and is 2-1 in the UFC. In contrast, Santos (9-2) is coming off a unanimous decision setback to Julio Acre, ranked 39th in the division.
I will go with Castaneda as he checks the box in every category compared to Santos. Sexy Mexi has more experienced and has a four-inch reach advantage. He is also the better grappler and is more successful at defense than Santos is.
Best Bet: Castaneda to win (-190)
Lightweight: Mike Davis vs. Viachevslav Borschev
This match is between two talented but unseasoned fighters looking to make names for themselves in the promotion. Davis (9-2), ranked No. 56 in the division, has won two straight bouts and is 2-1 in the UFC. Borschev is 1-1 in the promotion and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Marc Diakiese.
I will take Davis to extend his winning streak though he must be careful as Borschev is a highly skilled and dangerous kickboxer. Davis showed off a more polished arsenal the last time out, particularly with his wrestling and grappling ability. I expect the 29-year-old American, an outstanding striker, to take the fight against Borschev to the ground as he was exposed by Diakiese in that area.
Best Bet: Davis to win (-180)
Heavyweight: Aleksei Oleinik vs. Ilir Latifi
Oleinik is one of my three upset picks. The old-timer (60-16-1) snapped a three-fight losing skid by getting Jared Vanderaa, another struggling fighter, to submit in his last outing in April. Oleinik, who may retire after this bout, has a 9-6 record with the UFC.
Latifi (16-8), not a spring chicken himself at 39, also won for the first time in four outings by defeating Tanner Bosser in his last outing. However, he has not fought in over 15 months. Latifi is 8-6 as a member of the UFC and 1-1 as a heavyweight.
I like Oleinik here – in what could be a boring fight – due to length and size advantage. He is a submission machine, with 47 of his 55 finishes coming via submission, including seven since he moved to the heavyweight division. If Oleinik is able to submit Latifi, he will tie the division record.
Best Bet: Oleneik To Win (+150)
Sodiq Yusuff To Win By KO/TKO/DQ (-150) over Don Shainis
Jesse Ronson (+130) To Win Over Joaquim Silva
Brendan Allen (+100) To Win Over Krzysztof Jotko
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