After a short break last week, the UFC is back once again with another fantastic card and a rare women’s main event.

Two of the most exciting strawweights, Mackenzie Dern and Yan Xiaonan, will fight for a potential future title shot in the main event. Also just as exciting, we will have Raoni Barcelos will have an all-out brawl with Trevin Jones on the main card. We’ll also see talented, young prospects Sodiq Yusuff and Randy Costa try and grab KOs in their respective bouts.

The rest of the card is filled with UFC veterans like Aleksei Oleinik, Ilir Latifi, Brendan Allen and Francisco Trinaldo. All of these matchups (plus more) are covered below and feature BLÜ’s predictions along with the Bet99 Sportsbook Odds.

Main Card (4:00 PM PST)

Mike Davis vs. Viacheslav Borshchev

BET99 Odds

Davis:  -200     Borshchev:  +160

Over 2.5:  +105     Under 2.5:  -134

The main card opener features two talented, well-rounded lightweights. Davis lost his shot on the Contender Series to Yusuff, but he still ended up in the UFC. He is making his debut against none other than Gilbert Burns. He lost that debut in 2019, then followed it up with two wins over a lengthy 3 year period, plagued with fight cancellations. He may not have the most impressive record, but his last win was this year over the (formerly) undefeated Mason Jones.

Borshchev’s career has been moving in a different direction as of late. After defeating an unbeaten prospect on DWCS to earn his contract, he followed it up with a win over Dakota Bush. Sadly, he then lost to Diakiese.

Borshchev is a talented prospect, but that loss to Diakiese may show the path to victory for Davis. Davis has fought the tougher fighters and is more well-versed in grappling. He has also proven to be dangerous and dominant over the entire 15 minutes, while Borshchev slowed down. With that, he should be able to control Borshchev and edge ahead in a decision victory.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Davis by Decision

John Castañeda vs. Daniel Santos

BET99 Odds

Castañeda:  -189     Santos:  +150

Over 2.5:  -172     Under 2.5:  +133

Neither man has a wealth of UFC experience, but it’s sure to be quite the exciting fight. Since losing his debut to top contender Nathaniel Wood, Castañeda followed it up with finishes over Eddie Wineland and Miles Johns. In fact, before he made his debut, he had actually finish Marcelo Rojo as well.

Santos hasn’t found that same level of success, losing his only UFC bout to Julio Arce.

Either man could take this fight, but it’s pretty clear that Castañeda holds an edge. He’s earned multiple finishes in the UFC while Santos has lost his only appearance. Santos has never been defeated by a finish, so a decision seems likely, but Castañeda should take the win.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Castañeda by Decision

Sodiq Yusuff vs. Don Shainis

BET99 Odds

Yusuff:  -1100     Shainis:  +650

Over 1.5:  -150     Under 1.5:  +120

After suffering a fight cancellation a couple weeks ago by Giga Chikadze, Yusuff has now found himself fighting… a debuting fighter with minimal elite experience. With Yusuff being one of the most dangerous strikers at featherweight, losing by decision to Arnold Allen and knocking out Gabriel Benitez, this will be a dominant win. I’d be surprised if Shainis survives the first couple rounds, but it should be said that both men are used to decisions.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Yusuff by Finish

Raoni Barcelos vs. Trevin Jones

BET99 Odds

Barcelos:  -250    Jones:  +200

Over 2.5:  -148     Under 2.5:  +114

This one is shaping up to be one of the most exciting matchups of the night. Barcelos is one of the most exciting, aggressive fighters in the division. He’s been successful in the UFC with wins over Taha and Said Nurmagomedov, but has not done well against recent opponents. He lost in a tight majority decision to top contender, Timur Valiev and lost to one of the most impressive rookies of the year in Victor Henry.

Jones has also lost his last two bouts, falling to Kakhramonov and Javid Basharat. Jones is a powerful, skilled striker, but he tends to lack in output. Barcelos is the opposite and will be VERY active. It’s that activity and toughness that should push Barcelos to grab a decision win.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Barcelos by Decision

Co-Main Event

Randy Brown vs. Francisco Trinaldo

BET99 Odds

Brown:  -334    Trinaldo:  +260

Over 2.5:  -148   Under 2.5:  +114

Two UFC veterans will throw down in a fiery brawl for this one. Brown has been VERY impressive lately, beating Khaos Williams, Jared Gooden and Alex Oliveira. He also put up a decent performance before getting finished by Luque.

Trinaldo used to be one of the most dangerous men in the UFC, but sadly, times have changed. He’s now 44 and, although he’s still grabbing some wins, they’re not as high-calibre as they used to be. He recently grabbed a couple of tight wins over Danny Roberts and Dwight Grant, but fell to Muslim Salikhov.

If this was Trinaldo from years ago, this could be a different story, but Brown is carrying a decisive advantage into this matchup as it stands. He’s younger, taller and has been performing at a MUCH higher level lately. Trinaldo is VERY tough to finish, instead, I predict a dominant decision win for Brown.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Brown by Decision

Main Event

Mackenzie Dern vs. Yan Xiaonan

BET99 Odds

Dern:   -234    Yan:   +190

Over 2.5:  -140    Under 2.5:  +110

FINALLY, we’ve got an exciting, ranked fight between two TOP calibre women. Dern has been somewhat of a submission specialist with multiple finishes early in her UFC journey. Since moving up to the top of the division, she’s rounded out her game, but has struggled against other top contenders. She barely edged a split decision over Tecia Torres in her last fight and was dominated by Marina Rodriguez before that.

Yan has also found a LOT of success in the UFC and has actually been improving by quite a bit in her last few fights. She was submitted by Esparza, but lost a tight, split decision to Rodriguez.

This is VERY similar to Dern’s matchup against Rodriguez. Dern will be looking for a submission, while Yan will be looking to dominate in a decision. Considering the fact that Yan was submitted recently, it’s certainly plausible that we see the same outcome here. That being said, she’s been improving at an impressive pace and if she can shut down Dern’s takedowns, she’ll win this fight. Dern might grab a couple of rounds on the cards like she did against Rodriguez, but I believe in Yan’s grappling defence. Thanks to that defence and her relentless pace on the feet, she should be able to edge out the decision.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Yan by Decision

BLU’s Prelim Picks (Prelims begin at 1:00 PM PST)

Brendan Allen vs. Krzysztof Jotko

BET99 Odds

Allen:  +100    Jotko:  -120

Over 2.5:  -200    Under 2.5:   +154

Although neither man is currently ranked, both of these men have been in that position before. Allen was looking like a top tier prospect, but has struggled in his last few matchups. It all started with his loss to Chris Curtis. He followed it up with two wins, but took two rounds to finish Sam Alvey and BARELY beat Malkoun in his last appearance. I say “barely”… but I wasn’t convinced he had won.

On the other side, since losing to Strickland in a decision, Jotko has also put together a couple wins, beating Cirkunov and Meerschaert.

Neither of these guys is all that reliable, but, based on what I’ve seen and their recent records, I’d have to give the edge to Jotko. His win over Meerschaert was impressive and he beat a MUCH larger Cirkunov, while Allen hasn’t really looked all that good. This is sure to end in a decision; I’ve got to give it to Jotko.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Jotko by Decision

Aleksei Oleinik vs. Ilir Latifi

BET99 Odds

Oleinik:  +150    Latifi:  -189

Over 1.5:  -132    Under 1.5:  +105

This is the THIRD time we’ve covered this matchup and it looks like it’ll finally materialize. I still stand by what I’ve said in the past. Oleinik may be 6 years older than Latifi at 45, but he hasn’t been slowing down. He was knocked out two years ago by Daukaus and Lew. But then did well against Spivak in a decision win and submitted Vanderaa for a victory in the 1st Round of his last fight.

Latifi hasn’t been able to maintain that same level of success. He hasn’t fought since the middle of last year which was a split decision win over Boser. Honestly, that was one of those fights where Boser was kind of robbed. So, Latifi hasn’t won since 2018.

I don’t think this is going to be the fastest-paced fight of the night, but it’s always incredible to watch veterans like these guys. It’s heavyweight and they’re fairly old, so anything can happen, but I’m favouring the man who’s still a danger to the division: Aleksei Oleinik.

BLÜ’s Prediction

Oleinik by Finish

BLÜ’s Best Bets

Here I highlight some betting lines that you might want to take advantage of for UFC Vegas 61. These are odds that favour the bettor. Although some of them may conflict with my picks, they offer a fair reward for a slight bit of risk.

Yusuff vs. Shainis Under 1.5 at +120

It’s weird for fights in lighter divisions to end in the 1st Round, especially when both men have a decent amount of decisions, but Yusuff is a -1200 favourite. He’s got power, he’s got early finishes, plus, Shainis’s record doesn’t look all that impressive. At +120, it’s well worth the gamble in hopes that Yusuff grabs an early finish.

The Underdog Aleksei Oleinik at +150

Oleinik is older, but he’s been putting up decent performances while Latifi has been largely inactive and struggling in his fights. Oleinik is ALWAYS dangerous in his grappling and is completely relentless. When you’ve got 60 wins in your MMA career and you just submitted someone in the 1st Round earlier this year, you should be the favourite. As such, +150 is a steal of a betting line.

The Underdog Yan Xiaonan at +190

Dern is clearly a submission threat, but, other than that, doesn’t seem to be much of a danger for Yan. There’s a definite possibility that Dern will edge ahead in a couple rounds with her grappling or maybe even grab the submission win. That being said, at +190, it’s well worth the risk to bet of the grappling defence of Yan. If it holds up, she should be able to win the decision with ease.

Parlay Opportunities

The Short Run

Costa + Yusuff + Brown

The Long Run

Costa + Castañeda + Yusuff + Barcelos + Brown