UFC Fight Night 161 - Florida Breakdown & Predictions

When is UFC Fight Night 161? Saturday 12th October, 2019 - 23:00 start (UK)

Where is UFC Fight Night 161? Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

What channel is UFC Fight Night 161? BT Sport 2

Where can I stream UFC Fight Night 161? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT Sport website

For viewers in the United States, the event will be shown live on ESPN+ which can you sign up to here!

Are tickets still available for UFC Fight Night 161? https://www.ufc.com/tickets

Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Michelle Waterson

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Two of the best strawweights in the world headline the Fight Night card in Florida. Joanna Jedrzejczyk wants her title back but Michelle Waterson is standing in her way with her own dreams of becoming the champion.

Jedrzejczyk has suffered all three of her MMA losses in her last four fights. She lost her belt and rematch to Rose Namajunas and after bouncing back with a vintage and dominant striking display against Tecia Torres, she stepped up to fight for the flyweight title. However, she was outclassed by the bigger and stronger Valentina Shevchenko which has forced her back to the drawing board.

Waterson has been around for a hot minute and is desperate for her first UFC title shot. She is in fine fettle and if she can get past Jedrzejczyk she fully deserves one. She is coming off three stellar performances and decisions over Cortney Casey, Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

PREDICTION

Jedrzejczyk is in the worst form of her life but this will be Waterson’s toughest assignment by far. Namajunas was a bad stylistic match-up for Jedrzejczyk, and Shevchenko beats virtually everyone right now, so expect to see ‘Joanna Champion’ back in force.

Waterson is excellent on the feet with her strong karate background but Jedrzejczyk will have the advantage especially with her height and reach advantage. So, expect Waterson to try and get the fight to the ground to enforce her superior grappling. However, Jedrzejczyk’s takedown defence is too good and she is likely to pepper Waterson for five rounds to earn the decision.

Winner: Jedrzejczyk via Decision

Cub Swanson vs Kron Gracie

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Fan favourite Cub Swanson is back for the co main event at UFC Fight Night 161 but is on a four-fight skid and it is all uphill as he now faces the Brazilian jiu-jitsu phenom Kron Gracie.

Swanson has enthralled fans for over a decade since his WEC days with his electrifying skills but father time has caught up with him as he is on a bleak four-fight losing streak, albeit against some of the best fighters in the division. He first got submitted by another jiu-jitsu ace Brain Ortega, then lost a decision to Frankie Edgar before getting submitted again by Renato Moicano, and now is coming off a split decision loss to Shane Burgos.

At a completely contrasting stage of his MMA career, Gracie is 5-0 after becoming a grappling legend. Unsurprisingly, he has submitted all of his victims including Alex Caceres who was really hand fed for the Brazilian’s UFC debut. Swanson is a notch above in terms of experience and skill to all of Gracie’s opponents and this will be a true test of his potential in the sport.

PREDICTION

Swanson is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu but there are different levels of black belt and he has to keep the fight standing at all costs. Swanson’s unorthodox and diverse striking will give Gracie a host of problems and can easily find a knockout but only if he can find enough time and space on the feet.

However, Gracie will be licking his lips at the seven submission losses on Swanson’s record and is so good he only needs to get the fight to the ground once to find a submission.

Winner: Gracie via Submission

Mackenzie Dern vs Amanda Ribas

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The most accomplished female jiu-jitsu practitioner in the UFC makes her anticipated return after giving birth to her daughter and hopes to pick up where she left off to extend her perfect record, but Amanda Ribas has other ideas.

Dern has a warehouse full of jiu-jitsu medals and has continued her success in MMA. She is 7-0 with four submissions and won both of her UFC fights. She edged out Ashley Yoder on her debut and is coming off her best performance to date against Amanda Cooper, whom she knocked down with a big overhand right and finished with a rear-naked choke although the victory was clouded by missing weight by eight pounds.

The only blip on Ribas’ record is a TKO courtesy of Polyana Viana. However, that was four years ago and although she has only fought twice since, she has come on leaps and bounds. She has not been as active as she would like after failing a drugs test due to consuming a contaminated substance but thankfully she has been cleared and now we will be able to see more of her in the octagon.

PREDICTION

Ribas is a top talent and has proven her grappling skills. However, they do not compare to Dern’s and if the fight goes to the floor a submission is inevitable. Ribas will have to come out the gate fast and aggressive and keep moving to offload on the feet.

As we saw with Dern’s last fight, Ribas cannot afford to underestimate her striking but more importantly, if she cannot defend the takedown she will be looking at her second career loss.

Winner: Dern via Submission

Luis Pena vs Matt Frevola

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Luis Pena and Matt Frevola lock horns in Tampa, Florida hoping to notch their eighth professional win.

Thankfully Pena stays at lightweight after his unsuccessful experiment of cutting to 145 lbs which was not too surprising standing at 6’3”. Despite missing weight, he won that fight with a unanimous decision over Steven Peterson to bounce back from his tight loss to Mike Trizano and he is coming off a brilliant performance, finishing UFC veteran Matt Wiman in the third round.

Frevola earned his UFC spot on the roster with a submission over Jose Flores on Dana White’s Contender Series but had his perfect record crushed by Polo Reyes with a third-round knockout. He then battled Lando Vannata to a draw but got back to winning ways with a unanimous decision over Jalin Turner.

PREDICTION

Frevola has to look for the takedowns like he did against Turner to try and take the fight away from Pena. Pena has a huge height and reach advantage and uses it masterfully. He maintains the distance by striking at the end of his range with kicks and combinations and we fully expect him to successfully implement this game plan.

He should be able to keep the fight standing and break Frevola down to win three rounds however, considering the amount of strikes Frevola absorbs a late knockout is also likely.

Winner: Pena via KO/TKO

Eryk Anders vs Gerald Meerschaert

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Eryk Anders steps back down to middleweight to kick off the main card in Tampa with Gerald Meerschaert for their third fight of 2019.

Anders has fought a staggering 14 times since 2016. However, it is almost impossible to keep winning in the UFC fighting that regularly. Anders suffered three losses in a row, firstly a TKO loss to Thiago Santos and then a frustrating split decision to Elias Theodorou. He then took a three-round beating from Khalil Rountree Jr but is coming off a vicious first-round knockout over Vinicius Moreira.

Meerschaert also bounces back from a couple of losses with a vintage performance. He got submitted by Jack Hermansson before losing a split decision to Kevin Holland but responded by notching his 21st submission win with a guillotine over Trevin Giles.

PREDICTION

Meerschaert knows how dangerous it will be to trade with Anders on the feet which will give him more reason to stick to his bread and butter of taking the fight to the ground and look for a submission.

Anders has never been submitted before but this is still likely to hinge on his takedown defence. At middleweight, he has the power to shrug off enough takedown attempts and needs the slightest of opportunities to uncork his huge left hand.

Winner: Anders via KO/TKO