The UFC tries another Sunday card, again from Brazil. The event is headlined by a heavyweight fight between two very accomplished if aging talents who are both on losing streaks and arguably close to retirement. The main card also features a battle of two top lightweights vying for a potential number one-contender's bout.
Where: Ginásio Gigantinho, Porte Alegre, Brazil
When: Sunday, the one-fight Fight Pass card starts at 5:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 1 main card starts at 6 p.m. and the six-fight Fox Sports 1 card kicks off 8 p.m.
Frank Mir vs. Antonio Silva
I really don't know which way to side here. Silva appears as if the second Cain Velasquez fight coupled with the Mark Hunt war took something out of him. Mir looks like he's been drained, less so from wars, but certainly from an extended career that brought both costly wins and brutal losses. Whenever you're trying to anticipate where the bottom is going to drop out first between two fighters - even two with distinguished careers - you're essentially flipping a coin. I'll side with Silva, but only because he's a little more proactive on offense. Mir still has a tendency to let opponents define the terms of a fight, only to try to fight out of it. That's fine when you're younger with less mileage on you. That doesn't work in the latter chapters of your run.
This is an incredibly interesting fight. Will Johnson be able to squeeze Barboza into tight physical spaces, reduce his ability to launch big movements either as evasion or in terms of kicking offense? That's really what this fight hinges on. If Johnson gives the Brazilian the real estate to work, he's going to get absolutely torched. However, if he can find a way to get Barboza backing up, against the fence or otherwise physically hesitant while throwing hand combinations, this is certainly a winnable fight. Barboza's ability to take a shot isn't the best. Getting inside on him isn't easy, but it does pay dividends. A pick for either guy is logically justifiable. I'm going to go with the Brazilian here, but this is a tight one.
I've not been particularly moved by Alvey's ability. His win over Dylan Andrews was largely a product of a failed throw that caused Andrews to land on his head. Ferreira has been shown to not have what it takes to truly break through past the elite or elite gate keepers, but Alvey is likely a distance from that position. I expect the Brazilian to use various forms of offensive pressure that causes Alvey to make poor decisions that ends in a submission win for 'Mutante'.
Martins can strike (and do a few other things well) , but he's likely outmatched here. Khabilov just does too many things too well for this to upend him. I look for Khabilov to take his time early. We might even find him on the defensive side of the equation early as Martins looks to offensively pressure him, but I expect that to fade enough for Khabilov to launch momentum from counterpunching or takedowns to advanced positions from positional dominance initiated from the clinch.
I'm always reluctant to be overly sure about outcomes. This fight is no exception. That said, I have an extremely difficult time seeing a Saenz win likely on grounds beyond a low-percentage shot or accident of some sort. Alcantara is a better in virtually every measurable. He should positively cruise.
Strickland is a bit more physical in tie-ups. He's more aggressive with underhooking or initiating scrambles or trying to finish. The Argentine is a decent grappler, but doesn't have the finishing polish to put Strickland away. I look for Strickland to either find or finish with back attacks.