UFC Fight Night 68 in Brazil features the return of the “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit, “The Carny” Nik Lentz, and not one, not two, but three Oliveiras fighting on the same card. Let’s break down the fights and get you some help to make your lineups.
Carlos Condit ($11100) vs Thiago Alves ($8300)
Condit returns from an ACL tear to take on the resurgent Alves, who is coming off a stellar win over Jordan Mein. Condit will have both height and reach advantages, and he will be able to work his game against Alves — diverse striking with a high volume and fast pace. Alves has tremendous power, but Condit has never been knocked out, save for the leg injury he sustained against Tyron Woodley. Condit will frustrate Alves and take him the distance for the win.
Pick: Condit by decision
Charles Oliveira ($11400) vs Nik Lentz ($8000)
This is the matchup of the night for nicknames as “The Carny” takes on “Do Bronx,” a rematch of their 2011 tilt that was ruled a no-contest due to an illegal knee from Oliveira. Lentz has been a solid journeyman for years in the UFC, and Oliveira has fought some of the toughest in his division: Cerrone, Swanson, Edgar and Jim Miller. Oliveira turned the corner in 2014, winning all three of his fights with two submissions and a unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens. Yes, Lentz is an outstanding grappler who averages over four takedowns per 15 minutes, but Oliveira’s striking will make him pay the price for those shots. Oliveira also has a sick sub game, one that Lentz will remember — after he wakes up.
Pick: Oliveira by submission
Alex Oliveira ($10000) vs KJ Noons ($9400)
Noons is an outstanding boxer with a ton of experience, including wins over Nick Diaz, Jorge Gurgel and Yves Edwards. He’s been in the game a long time. Oliveira was submitted by BJJ ace Gilbert Burns in his UFC debut, something he won’t have to worry about with Noons, who has completed just one takedown since 2007. Oliveira is a power puncher, but Noons will likely give him fits. People get concerned that Noons absorbs a lot of strikes, but he always has. His output of strikes will be enough to win him the rounds, and the fight.
Pick: Noons by decision
Ryan Jimmo ($11300) vs Francimar Barroso ($8100)
Everyone wants Jimmo to win, if only to see him do his goofy robot dance at the end of the fight. As the salaries would indicate, this should be Jimmo’s fight to lose. Barroso is an old school Brazilian fighter, but Jimmo eats the middle of the roster fighters up. Speed kills, and eventually Jimmo will land something that drops the Brazilian, and he’ll finish the fight shortly after.
Pick: Jimmo by KO/TKO
Norman Parke ($11000) vs Francisco Trinaldo ($8400)
Parke holds the edge in just about every facet of the game. He has a terrific ground game, and although it hasn’t resulted in submission wins in the UFC, it is a force that Trinaldo will have to deal with. When you look at all angles of this matchup, it’s hard to envision Trinaldo getting the win. Parke will outwork Trinaldo, which will be reflected on the scorecards. However, I don’t like picking fighters I don’t think will win by KO or sub since those score the most points. I’m likely staying away from this one. Trinaldo could be a sneaky value play, but buyer beware.
Pick: Parke by decision
Wendell Oliveira ($9900) vs Darren Till ($9500)
Darren Till’s 12-0 record looks oh so sweet on paper. But anytime a fighter is making his UFC debut, like Till is, you need to check who and where they were fighting. As late as last year Till was fighting guys making their pro debuts. So people will look at Oliveira getting KO’d in his UFC debut, look at Till’s undefeated record and conclude that Till will win easily. I doubt that will be the case. Oliveira is in his 10th year as a pro, will be fighting in front of his home crowd and is a dynamic, powerful striker. He’ll issue a rude welcome to the UFC for Darren Till.
Pick: Oliveira by KO/TKO
Jussier Formiga ($10100) vs Wilson Reis ($9300)
Reis didn’t impress me that much during his run in Bellator, and while he has won 3 of 4 in the UFC, he still hasn’t been all that impressive. Formiga hasn’t been all that great himself, although his UFC losses were to Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson, and there’s no shame in that. Here’s the crazy stat of this fight: neither fighter has registered a KO win in their combined 44 fights. Both fighters are submission specialists, so I doubt either one will be able to finish that way either. Both fighters also have very low output. Formiga lands just .98 significant strikes per minute, while Reis is just under two. So on paper it looks like this will go the distance with the winner only amassing about 50 or so points for your team. That’s not good value at those salaries. I think Reis takes the decision, but I doubt I’ll be drafting him.
Pick: Reis by decision
Nicholas Dalby ($9800) vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos ($9600)
dos Santos has won four straight in Brazil’s Jungle Fight promotion, while Denmark’s Nicholas “Sharpshooter” Dalby is the welterweight champ for England’s Cage Warriors promotion. Dalby seems to be the more well-rounded fighter, while dos Santos has 11 KOs in his 14 wins. He’ll also be fighting in front of the home crowd. When both fighters are making their debuts it tends to be less technical, and for that reason I think dos Santos and his power get the KO win.
Pick: dos Santos by KO/TKO
Mirsad Bektic ($9800) vs Lucas Martins ($9600)
I’ve seen Bektic wreck people in Titan and RFA, and he has a sick combination of speed and power. I was also impressed by Lucas Martins in his most recent performance against Darren Elkins, but Bektic is the superior athlete, seemingly destined to do big things in the UFC. Speed kills; power finishes the job. Bektic takes this where ever the fight may go, but I think he will knockout the Brazilian, or ground and pound him until the ref steps in. Look for Bektic to score you 100+ points.
Pick: Bektic by KO/TKO
Juliana Lima ($9700) vs Ericka Almeida ($9700)
It’s interesting that both fighters have the same salaries, even though Lima has two UFC fights and Almeida is making her UFC debut. Lima went the distance with current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk in her UFC debut and bested Nina Ansaroff in her last fight. Almeida is the Jungle Fight champion, undefeated at 7-0, with one TKO and six submission finishes. Still, Lima is an impressive wrestler and should be able to defend against any sub attempts. She’ll dictate the pace and use her wrestling to score points, taking the rounds and winning the fight.
Pick: Lima by decision
Luiz Dutra ($9900) vs Tom Breese ($9500)
Dutra is another old school, tough Brazilian fighter, making his second appearance in The Octagon. Breese is a 23-year-old wunderkind from Tristar Gym, a very tall welterweight at 6’3″. He has dominated the competition in BAMMA and he is undefeated with seven wins, all finishes. Breese will score takedowns, and his speed and strength will be too much for the Brazilian. I won’t call the round, but Breese will submit Dutra at some point.
Pick: Breese by submission