UFC Fight Night 61 Preview

ufc_fn61The UFC is just trying to get back to fighting and after a good card in Colorado last week they still couldn’t get away from the issues outside of the octagon. They looked to fix some with the announcement of a new drug policy but there were still issues. As the main eventer for their next fight flew into Brazil he was detained at the airport. Luckily the issue was not something that could not be overcome. Mir was detained after bullets were found in his bag, guns are banned in Brazil, although no gun was found. Mir claimed that the bullets were likely left over from the last time that he went shooting in Las Vegas. The small hiccup could have been another major issue for the UFC but they got through it with little issue. So the fight remains on and the UFC gets to forget about their issues, if only for a few hours. The UFC returns to Brazil this Sunday and while there they will highlight a division that has been at a stand-still for too long. The heavyweight division in the UFC has been plagued by injuries as the title holder, Cain Velasquez last fought in November of 2013 due to a knee injury. That layoff has allowed Fabricio Werdum to take the interim title and await a unification title shot in June when Velasquez is set to return. As the battle at the top has been delayed time and time again other fighters have been trying to get moving to position themselves for the next shot. The division has also taken a bit of a hit in the fact that the lighter weight classes have been more exciting than ever with the biggest personalities taking over the UFC from the lighter weights. The heavyweights lack the big names that used to dominate UFC headlines and with inactivity rippling through the division it has been an almost forgotten division in the UFC. One fighter that has been a part of that inactivity will make his return to the UFC as former champion Frank Mir fights for the first time in a year. He was once the face of the division but quickly fell off after a bike accident left him without his title. Since then he has been a fighter that has risen fast and fallen fast due to inconsistency and seemed to be on his way out of the fight game a year ago. After a loss to Alistair Overeem in February of 2014, Mir did not seem to be to set on continuing his time in MMA. He took some time off to clear his head before he ended his long career and after reworking his training he says he feels better than ever. The year off has supposedly allowed him to heal his aches and pains while giving him a renewed love of fighting. With this new attitude Mir is making his return to the octagon with a new attitude and the hope that he can this new attitude towards yet another title run. To begin his journey back to the top of the division he will need to beat one of the biggest heavyweights in the UFC. Antonio Silva has the nickname “Bigfoot” for a reason as the 6’4” 265 lbs Brazilian made a reputation for himself before entering the UFC. When he entered the octagon for the first time his legend didn’t show itself losing his first fight to Cain Velasquez. Since then he has struggled to find any momentum including a 0-2-1 record in his last three fights. Mir will look to take advantage of his lack of consistency in a fight that is not like most heavyweight bouts as Mir represents the oddity in a division of strikers. Mir is a BJJ black belt who has good boxing but mostly prefers to take fights to the ground where the majority of his opponents are not strong. Silva is also a BJJ black belt but more often prefers to stay standing and use his strength to overpower opponents. In this match-up two fighters are trying to make a comeback and for the UFC that becomes the focus for five rounds this Sunday.

In no shock to the fans of the UFC the co-main event will feature the division with the most excitement right now. The heavyweights have been silent for so long but that is the opposite for the lightweight division. Every card has a fight in this division as there are simply too many good lightweight fighters making a run at the title. That pattern continues in Brazil when the #6 ranked lightweight, Edson Barboza, takes on the #12 ranked fighter Michael Johnson. Both have been fighting better through their last few fights and are now clashing to see who can continue their climb up the rankings. For Barboza it is a two fight win streak and a 5-1 record in his last six fights. Barboza has had plenty of success in the division since entering the UFC only losing twice. That has allowed him to rise to a top 10 spot but his losses have come at bad times and so he remains just outside of the title conversation. Meanwhile Michael Johnson has seemingly found his groove as of late and with a three fight win streak is hoping to move into the top ten with another win. He has long been unable to find any success in the UFC with wins not coming in streaks like any fighter needs in the lightweight division. Now he seems to have finally found what he needs to be that fighter but it will take a lot more than three straight wins to push him into title conversation. He looks for his fourth straight in Brazil against a Brazilian and it will not be easy but if he can get the win he is sure to make some people notice. The match-up makes for an explosive fight as both fighters love to come forward and strike. Despite the wrestling base of Johnson he has become a great striker with seven knockout wins to his name. Barboza on the other hand is a much more creative fighter than Johnson with a Muay Thai background. His knockouts have made highlight reels and he prefers to use his ability to strike in multiple ways in order to beat his opponents. It could be a stand-up battle between these two and both will try to get the knockout as they can’t move up in the most competitive division without making some noise.

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