UFC Vegas 61 Preview and Predictions
After taking last weekend off, the UFC will return to action with UFC Vegas 61. While UFC did not decide to load this card with a lot of ranked talent, the card does have some interesting fights. The only matchup between ranked fighters is the main event which features a women’s strawweight bout between Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan. UFC Vegas 61 will air on ESPN+ with the prelims starting at 4 p.m. EST followed by the main card at 7 p.m. EST. I am joined by Vendetta Sports Media’s preview team which includes Garrett Burroughs, Chris Chick, and Jerry Walker to break down and predict the main card. Here are our prediction records thus far.
- James: 33-23
- Garrett: 36-20
- Chris: 11-8
- Jerry: 3-3
Mike Davis vs Viacheslav Borshchev — Lightweight
James: UFC Vegas 61 is opening with a fight of the night contender. Mike Davis and Viacheslav Borshchev are two entertaining strikers that are more than willing to get into a scrap. Both have been successful thus far in their career as well. Davis is currently 9-2. In his last bout, he got an impressive win over Mason Jones. The two losses on his record came against Gilbert Burns and Sodiq Yusuff. That is not bad for an unranked fighter. Meanwhile, Borshchev sits at 6-2. He did falter in his last fight against Marc Diakiese, but he has looked good outside of that bout.
It is reasonable to believe that this fight will stay standing for the majority of the contest. Both fighters have a lot of similarities. They each throw boxing combinations and have shown the ability to attack the body. The main difference will be that Borschev will throw more kicks as Davis mainly uses his hands. Davis will also likely have a wrestling advantage. Borshchev has struggled to defend takedowns in the past. Another key factor in this fight is that Davis has more experience in highly competitive fights. I think this fight will fall into that category. That experience should help Davis win by decision.
Garrett: Davis via decision
Chris: Mike Davis via first-round TKO
Jerry: Borshchev via TKO
John Castaneda vs Daniel Santos — 140 lbs Catchweight
John Castaneda and Daniel Santos will be the second fight on UFC Vegas 61. In all honesty, I am quite surprised that this fight is on the main card. There are several fights on the prelims that include more popular fighters that are closer to the rankings. Coming into this fight, Casteneda is 19-5 in MMA. His resume includes finishes against Miles Johns and Eddie Wineland, while his only loss in the promotion came against Nathaniel Wood. That is nothing to be ashamed of as Wood has looked good of late. This will be Santos’ second walk to the UFC octagon. Things did not end in his favor the first time around as he lost to Julio Arce.
There are a lot of reasons to like Castaneda. Most importantly, he has been able to find success in the octagon. In the UFC he has proven to be a well-rounded fighter that will strike at volume. If the fight gets to the ground, he can threaten submissions. In this fight, Castaneda should be able to out strike Santos. If he struggles, he can revert to grappling. I will take Castaneda by decision.
Garrett: Castaneda via TKO
Chris: Castaneda via first-round submission
Jerry: Castaneda via decision
No. 12 Sodiq Yusuff vs Don Shainis — Featherweight
Sodiq Yusuff will be the first ranked fighter to make the walk at UFC Vegas 61. Originally, Yusuff was supposed to fight Giga Chikadze at UFC Vegas 60, but Chikadze had to pull out of the fight with an injury. The UFC then turned to Don Shainis to fill in for Chikadze and moved the bout to this card. Yusuff will be a massive favorite in this bout. He has earned the No. 12 spot in the bantamweight ranking after compiling a 5-1 record in the promotion. On the other hand, Shainis will be making his UFC debut.
Shainis has looked good on the regional scene. He has good wrestling and knockout power. With that being said, there are levels to MMA. Shainis is a good regional fighter that may be able to win fights in the UFC. Yusuff is an established UFC talent that has proven to be an above-average fighter. These two guys are not on the same level. I will take Yusuff by first-round knockout.
Garrett: Yusuff by decision
Chris: Yusuff by decision
Jerry: Yusuff via TKO
Raoni Barcelos vs Trevin Jones — Bantamweight
James: Raoni Barcelos and Trevin Jones are each looking to get back in the win column at UFC Vegas 61. At one point, it looked like Barcelos was on track to make his way into the UFC bantamweight rankings. He started his UFC career with five straight wins, including an impressive victory over Said Nurmagomedov, one of the best prospects in the bantamweight division. However, Barcelos has dropped his last two fights against Victor Henry and Timur Valiev. For Jones, he is also coming off back-to-back losses. His came against Javid Basharat and Saidyokub Kakhramonov. In total, Jones is 1-2 with one no-contest in the UFC. That no contest was a knockout win over Valiev that was ruled a no contest due to a positive marijuana test.
Despite their recent troubles, there are plenty of reasons to like each of these fighters. Barcelos is an incredibly well-rounded fighter that can win where ever a fight goes. On the ground, he has great BJJ and strong wrestling. On the feet, he has solid striking and can land at a high volume. Jones’ biggest strengths are his wrestling and heavy hands. If he can start landing shots he can deal damage quickly. In this bout, Barcelos will win if he fights as the prime version of himself. The issue is, he seems to have lost a step and at 35 we may not see the prime version of Barcelos again. Hopefully, he regains top form as he would be a great fighter to have in the bantamweight division. I will not count on that happening, though. I will take Jones by knockout in round three.
Garrett: Barcelos via decision
Chris: Barcelos via decision
Jerry: Barcelos via decision
Randy Brown vs Francisco Trinaldo — Welterweight
The co-main event of UFC Vegas 61 will be a welterweight bout between Randy Brown and Francisco Trinaldo. Despite Brown and Trinaldo both being UFC veterans, each of these fighters are at different points in their career. Brown has gone 9-4 in the UFC while fighting talented welterweights throughout his UFC tenure. At the moment Brown seems to be peaking as he is riding a three-fight win streak while entering his prime years at 32. Trinaldo is the elder of the two as he is currently 44 years old. Trinaldo has put in work at the UFC level as he has amassed an 18-7 record in the octagon. Despite his age, Trinaldo has looked good as of late as he has gone 5-1 in his last six.
In this bout, Brown will be the much longer fighter. He holds a six-inch height advantage and an eight-inch reach advantage. That will pair well with his solid jab and straight attacks. Brown will also likely throw strikes at a higher volume. For Trinaldo, he will likely need to land a knockout shot if he wants to win this fight. He can do that as he holds power in his hands. If Brown can maintain distance and land strikes from the outside, he should be in a good position to win this fight. I will take Brown by decision.
Garrett: Brown via TKO
Chris: Brown via second-round TKO
Jerry: Brown via decision
No. 5 Mackenzie Dern vs No. 6 Yan Xiaonan- Women’s Strawweight Bout
Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan will be the main event for UFC Vegas 61. This will be the only bout on the card that features two ranked fighters. Dern is currently the No. 5 ranked women’s strawweight while Xiaonan is one spot behind her at No. 6. With these rankings in mind, this fight will greatly affect each fighter’s career. The winner will be in a position to fight inside of the top five. On the flip side, the loser will half to defend their rank against someone in the bottom half of the division.
In her last fight, Dern got back on track with a win against Tecia Torres. Prior to that, she lost to Marina Rodriguez which ended a four-fight win streak. In total, Dern has gone 12-2 in MMA and 7-2 in the UFC. On the other hand, Xiaonan began her UFC career with six straight wins; however, she has lost her last two fights. In fairness, those losses came against elite competitors in Rodriguez and current champion Carla Esparza.
Dern has elite BJJ. Seven of her 12 career wins have come by submission. On the feet, she has struggled. Recently, she has shown improvements, but she has been unable to catch up with the division’s elite strikers. Xiaonan is the exact opposite. She is a very technical striker that excels in throwing boxing combinations and leg kicks. But, she has struggled on the ground. This was most evident in her fight with Esparza where she lost via ground-and-pound. If Dern is able to get this fight to the ground, there is a good chance she lands a submission. That will be harder than it sounds as Dern struggles with offensive wrestling. Against Xiaonan, she may struggle to get a takedown, but I think she gets at least one. If she can get one takedown, I think she ends the fight. I will take Dern by second-round submission.
Garrett: Dern via submission
Chris: Dern via fourth-round submission
Jerry: Dern via submission