This coming week’s UFC action will take place on Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1) from Brazil, as heavyweight contenders Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Frank Mir get after it in the main event. Check out our breakdown of that headlining fight, as well as the 11 others on the Fight Night bill!
Antonio Silva (18-6) vs. Frank Mir (16-9)
Silva has gone winless in his past three fights and Fight Night main event opponent Mir hasn’t won in his past four bouts. However, while both top heavyweights are on losing skids, they appear to be of very different types.
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Silva got caught quickly in his last fight, a KO loss to Andrei Arlovski. Before that, he had a draw in one of the best heavyweight fights in history, against Mark Hunt.
Before those two bouts, Silva got taken apart by champion Cain Velasquez, but the point is that he hasn’t looked bad in his past couple outings. Mir, on the other hand, has not won a fight since 2011.
The former champion has faced the very best in competition, so there’s no shame in the losing, but his performances have become more and more listless. His decision losses to Alistair Overeem and Daniel Cormier were one-sided.
Can all-time great Frank Mir win again in the UFC?
And, Josh Barnett and Junior Dos Santos hurt him badly in each of their stoppage wins. Mir has said he’s unsure of how much longer he’ll fight on.
That seems like a bad position in which to fight someone as good and big as Silva. Mir will have to be quick and have great takedown defense as well as endurance to beat Silva.
He certainly can, but we have to go with Silva because he would appear to be the fresher fighter, and because he’s fought more effectively overall against top competition in recent years. If Silva can stay off his back and put his weight on Mir, the naturally bigger man stands a good shot of imposing his will over three rounds.
Prediction: Silva by decision.
Edson Barboza (15-2) vs. Michael Johnson (16-8)
Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson could be one of the night’s best fights.
This lightweight fight is hard to predict, but is eagerly anticipated by those in the know. Barboza and Johnson both have quietly put together impressive win streaks heading into this fight.
Barboza most recently beat the underrated Evan Dunham and surging Bobby Green, while Johnson has won three straight against some of the division’s best and most experienced in Joe Lauzon, Gleison Tibau and Melvin Guillard.
Barboza has the more varied offensive striking attack, mixing in kicks with his hands, while Johnson has very good MMA boxing. However, Barboza’s biggest clear advantage heading into this fight may be his lack of rust.
The Brazilian last fought and won in November, while Johnson has not fought in nearly a year. Simply because we imagine Barboza will be the sharper fighter, having competed recently, we have to pick him.
Prediction: Barboza by decision.
Cezar Ferreira (9-3) vs. Sam Alvey (24-6)
This contest between two young middleweights is anyone’s fight. Alvey will have the wrestling advantage, but Ferreira ‘s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on the ground has served him well.
In the end, we like Alvey’s combination of slightly more fluid striking on the feet, with his wrestling ability. It may end up being a drawn-out battle, but we’re going with Alvey in a close fight.
Prediction: Alvey by decision.
Rustam Khabilov (17-2) vs. Adriano Martins (26-7)
Dagestani wrestler Khabilov was on a huge roll before getting stopped by former lightweight champion Benson Henderson last June. The loss was his first in seven fights and put a halt to his momentum.
The Team Jackson/Winkeljohn fighter hopes to restart it Sunday against Martins, who managed to do just that when he knocked out Juan Manuel Puig in July after being KO’d by Donald Cerrone seven months earlier.
Khabilov, like Martins before him in the fight against Puig, has been out of competition for about half a year after his most recent loss. No doubt, that’s given him time for injuries to heal and for him to have done a lot of skill work.
If he is healthy, Khabilov likely will be the favorite in this fight based on his excellent wrestling. If Martins can’t decide where the fight takes place, he’ll have an uphill battle ahead of him.
If the Brazilian can strike first and stun his opponent before he can be taken down, however, the fight’s whole complexion could change in his favor. We’re betting Khabilov plays it safe and is able to grind out a win.
Prediction: Khabilov by decision.
Iuri Alcantara (31-5) vs. Frankie Saenz (9-2)
Iuri Alcantara is a dangerous bantamweight.
The American Saenz takes a big step up in competition in his second UFC bout by fighting Alcantara. To boot, he’ll be doing so in Alcantara’s home of Brazil.
We like Alcantara’s experience advantage against the solid Saenz.
Prediction: Alcantara by third-round submission.
Santiago Ponzinibbio (20-2) vs. Sean Strickland (15-0)
Ponzinibbio comes into this welterweight fight with a head full of steam after picking up a KO win in September. Strickland, however, will be the bigger man, having already won twice in the UFC at middleweight.
If the American can do his weight cut in such a way that he has energy left to fight effectively, his size could make the difference.
Prediction: Strickland by decision.
Jessica Andrade (12-3) vs. Marion Reneau (5-1)
Can Jessica Andrade keep on winning?
This bantamweight fight provides interesting contrasts. Andrade is far younger, yet is the more experienced fighter.
Reneau may very well have a technical striking edge while her opponent is slicker on the ground. Both women have looked very impressive lately, but we’ll go with the home-town grappler in this one.
Prediction: Andrade by decision.
William Macario (8-2) vs. Matt Dwyer (7-2)
Both welterweights are coming off losses but we think Macario’s experience gives him a slight advantage over the Canadian. The wild card is which fighter will have recovered more since their respective KO losses last October.
Prediction: Macario by decision.
Tiago "Trator" Dos Santos E Silva (19-4-2) vs. Mike De La Torre (12-5)
De La Torre is being brought to Brazil to lose to "Trator," plain and simple. The Brazilian is on a 10-fight win streak, and De La Torre has yet to notch a win in the UFC.
That said, the American has the skills to push back. If he can stop "Trator" from getting started too fast, De La Torre can seriously threaten with takedowns and his excellent submission skills.
Prediction: De La Torre with the upset second-round submission.
Wendell Oliveira (24-8) vs. TJ Waldburger (16-9)
Both men are coming off KO losses, Waldburger two in a row. We have to wonder who will have been able to clear the cobwebs better, but there certainly will be no shortage of motivation for either man.
Oliveira will be looking for his first UFC win, and no doubt hopes to deliver the type of explosive, KO victory that he was known for outside of the promotion. The Brazilian certainly has that ability, but Waldburger is a good enough grappler to give him trouble.
The American also has a serious UFC experience advantage, having fought some of the very best, like Johny Hendricks and Pat Healy.
Prediction: Waldburger by decision.
Douglas Silva de Andrade (22-1) vs. Cody Gibson (12-5)
Andrade will be champing at the bit after not fighting for more than a year. The Brazilian lost for the first time in his UFC debut one year ago, but now gets a chance to come back strong in front of a friendly crowd.
Gibson also will be looking to come back from being finished, but his last fight was in September, so he has a chance at being the sharper man.
Prediction: Gibson by decision.
Ivan Jorge (25-4) vs. Josh Shockley (11-3)
Jorge’s lone UFC win came over Shockley’s coach Keith Wisniewski in 2013, so there may be extra heat between these lightweights. Jorge is almost a full decade older than the American, but Shockley has a good amount of experience, having fought as a pro since his teens.
Jorge may end up being the stronger fighter, but Shockley could have an endurance advantage.