The APEX hosts another UFC Fight Night this weekend with Sodiq Yusuff and Edson Barboza doing the honours in the main event. The co-main is Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo. There’s a couple of other interesting characters on the card, namely Michel Perreira, Terrance McKinney and ‘The Damage’ himself, Darren Elkins.
The rest of the card is filled with mildly exciting prospects and some new faces hoping to make an impression in the Octagon.
As always, we’ve scoured the records, crunched some stats and run the tape on these folks and come up with who we all think is going to win come Saturday night.
And we’re pretty torn on the main event, with no clear favourite between Yusuff and Barboza. Perhaps that means we’re in for a close and entertaining affair at the end of this UFC fight night card.
We’re far more decisive on the co-main, with the vast majority of us picking the former Invicta champ Jennifer Maia to confound her fellow Brazilian.
You can see the rest of our picks below. Tell us who you’re picking at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza in the comments (if you dare!).
UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza staff picks and predictions
Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza
Anton Tabuena: I like Sodiq, and he’s on a nice run, but Barboza in a UFC fight night main event will be a step up from the fighters he’s beaten. It’ll be interesting to see if he can out grapple Barboza, but that certainly is no easy task as even at 37, the Brazilian is still fast and still very hard to beat. If Barboza’s physical tools are still close to his last fight, I think he can still win this kind of style match up. Edson Barboza by TKO.
Dayne: I continue to predict Barboza’s demise too early. I didn’t think the longtime UFC roster member would be able to deal with the pressure of Billy Quarantillo, only for the Brazilian to add yet another highlight to his already extensive reel. At 37 with all the miles on his body, he’s far closer to the end of the road than he is the beginning. And yet, I don’t think this is the fight where we all determine he’s finished.
Despite that, he can still lose this fight. Yusuff isn’t quite as technical of a striker as Barboza, nor is he as hard of a hitter. However, he is younger, more durable, and more fluid in his boxing, which should allow him to outwork the older fighter if it comes down to a matter of volume. Plus, while he may not hit as hard as Barboza, it isn’t like he doesn’t hit plenty hard.
I’d feel more confident in Yusuff if he had displayed his wrestling with greater regularity, but the passing of the guard has to occur at some point. This feels like that point. Sure, Barboza proved he can still go back and forth against Shane Burgos, but Barboza is also two years older than he was from that fight. Plus, Yusuff is a superior athlete to Burgos. It isn’t my most confident pick, but I’m going with Yusuff. Yusuff via decision
Victor: I refuse to count out Barboza again. Yusuff has dynamite power in his hands and good wrestling adapted for MMA, sure. Barboza just has the deeper pocket with his striking and it’s not like Yusuff can smother Edson the way Bryce Mitchell did. No, sir. My thirst for seeing wily veterans beat back the younger sharks remains unsated. Edson Barboza by decision.
Zane: At some point Barboza’s game likely has to fall apart. So much of it is built on his amazing speed relative to the fighters around him. When that speed really goes, things could get ugly. But, at least so far, that speed isn’t gone yet. Barboza might be a bit slower than he used to be, but that still leaves him a lot faster than most of his competition. Which means, while the Brazilian can be beat, it still usually takes a hell of a hard fight to make it happen.
Despite the book being that wrestling is the key to defeating Barboza, his takedown defense is actually, statistically great. As Billy Q recently found out. And despite claims that Barboza is chinny, he’s been KO/TKO’d in just four of his 34 fights and Yusuff has only ever stopped his worst competition. That has me feeling like what we’re likely to see at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza is a multiple round striking battle where Barboza is far more dangerous and consistent. Edson Barboza via TKO, round 3.
Tim: This might be an emotional pick on my part, but I think Edson Barboza still has a lot left in his tank and he’s still capable of the spectacular in the blink of an eye. Sodiq Yusuff is a decent fighter, but I’m not worried about him stopping Barboza. And if Barboza is on his feet, the potential for something sneaky to land on Yusuff’s chin is there. Edson Barboza via KO, round 4.
Chris: I’m really torn over this matchup. Barboza’s game, which relies so much on athleticism, speed and timing, can’t possibly age well… right? He looks great at this age though, but the coin says it’s time for a youth movement.
Staff picking Yusuff: Dayne, Stephie, Kristen, Chris, Eddie
Staff picking Barboza: Lucas, Victor, Ben, Zane, Tim, Anton
Jennifer Maia vs. Viviane Araujo
Dayne: Given Maia has been a fixture at flyweight for so long, it can be a bit of a surprise to learn Araujo is the older fighter. Well, given how Araujo has looked in comparison to Maia over their last couple of fights, there shouldn’t be any surprise. Araujo has faded hard down the stretch whereas the rock steady Maia is looking as sharp as she ever has.
That doesn’t guarantee anything. Araujo has flashed enough of her explosiveness early that I wouldn’t be shocked if Araujo is able to catch Maia with something dynamic early. However, given Maia’s traditional durability and solid fundamentals, I wouldn’t put my money on that happening.
Perhaps Araujo gets her jab going at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza, allowing her to outwork Maia as the former title challenger loves looking for the counter. However, if Maia’s recent contests are any indication, she seems to better understand the need to be more active with her hands as of late. We’ll find out. Maia via decision
Victor: Maia was the first to start cracking at Valentina’s armor, utilising her overall game and grappling to work some control in. Viviane is a spry athlete, but she’s also susceptible to what Maia does well and what Maia does best. Araujo is going to have to keep this at range and really get her timing right to outwork Maia, and I just don’t see it. Jennifer Maia by decision.
Tim: Jennifer Maia is a nightmare match-up for Viviane Araujo and I expect her to ugly this fight up and completely drain Araujo. I don’t think it will be much fun to watch, but the result will be undeniable. Jennifer Maia by decision.
Zane: Araujo has struggled hard against any opponent she can’t physically overwhelm. That should make Maia’s steady durability and takedown defense, along with her increasingly high, consistent output a big problem. Jennifer Maia by decision.
Staff picking Maia: Dayne, Stephie, Victor, Kristen, Ben, Zane, Tim, Anton, Eddie
Staff picking Araujo: Lucas, Chris
Jonathan Martinez vs. Adrian Yanez
Dayne: Based on the limited amount of research I could do, the impression I get is Yanez walked into his fight with Rob Font overconfident. Getting smashed by the longtime veteran appears to have humbled him. That’s a good thing.
Humility is something Martinez has in spades. Not that it matters, but you’ll never catch Martinez talking a big game. He’ll just continue to go out and do his thing, barely registering his voice above a whisper, making incremental improvements along the way. I’ve picked against him when I shouldn’t have a couple of times and it makes me wary to do so again. And yet, I’m going to again.
Provided my read on Yanez’s attitude is correct, I’m not too worried about being wrong on this contest. Martinez is at his best when he’s given room to let his kicks fly and Yanez is at his best pressing forward throwing his sharp boxing combinations. Martinez’s boxing is one of those things that has made steady progression, but I wouldn’t give serious consideration to it being as good as Yanez’s. Plus, Martinez’s chin, while it isn’t weak, it has been cracked. I’m not sure about a finish, but I’m not discounting it either. Yanez via decision
Victor: I kind of feel like Martinez should be favored here, given his range and output. Yañez is just wily and scrambly enough to pose some threats while bobbing inside to do damage in the more prolonged exchanges. They’re both so good, it’s a tough pick. Adrian Yañez by decision.
Zane: Given both Vic and Dayne’s misgivings I’d expect a few more of us to be on the Victor Martinez side of the equation for this UFC Fight Night match-up. If we’re being real, Yanez has never beat anyone half as good as Alejandro Perez or Cub Swanson. And while Yanez has a deeper skill set in the core focus of his game (his boxing), he’s also working an intensely limited style for a division as deep and tough as bantamweight.
If Yanez can keep his jab on Martinez to stifle the kicking game and force this into a middle distance boxing match, he absolutely has all the tools to win it. But, if he starts a little slow (as he often has in the past) and takes a round of low kicks before getting going, I’m not sure that he’ll be able to claw his way back. Jonathan Martinez by decision.
Chris: The coin compels me to pick Adrian Yanez, but Jonathan Martinez had one of the best fights of 2023 against Said Nurmagomedov earlier this year in March. It didn’t win Fight of the Night and won’t be on any FOTY lists, but rest assured this man is legit. Nevertheless, the coin says Yanez, so look for a striking showcase by the recently humbled Texan.
Staff picking Martinez: Zane
Staff picking Yanez: Dayne, Lucas, Stephie, Victor, Kristen, Ben, Chris, Tim, Anton, Eddie
Michel Pereira vs. Andre Petroski
Dayne: Petroski looks like a nightmare stylistically for Pereira. Well… he would if this was three or four years ago. Pereira has matured dramatically over the last couple of years and I anticipate we’ll see the best version of Pereira now that he isn’t cutting a ridiculous amount of weight in hopes of getting to the welterweight limit.
It wouldn’t shock me if Petroski is able to smother the smaller man for 15 minutes, but there’s two factors that has me confident in my pick. Petroski has a history of fading. I will grant he has been finishing his recent fights with more energy, but he’s also taking this contest on short notice. That doesn’t bode well for him. Pereira via TKO of RD2
Victor: I love Michel, and it just seems that when you put him against with a generalist that isn’t going to go crazy chasing him or falling for the spinny and flippy stuff, he’s not gonna do as well. It’s how he got tripped up against Tristan Connelly. And I suspect Petrosky will be ready for that as well. Andre Petroski by decision.
Zane: There’s a very reasonable chance that Petroski just wrestles Pereira into oblivion at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza, but Pereira’s been so much more calm and consistent lately and is so much faster on his feet than Petroski that I’m not all that convinced. It also has to be noted, despite the fact that he’s moving up a division, Pereira is about the most natural middleweight I’ve ever seen in my life. The dude always should have been at 185, and his WW run was just absurd body punishment.
On top of all that, there’s the fact that Petroski almost always likes to do a lot of striking before he gets to his grappling, and he’s incredibly stiff and slow footed with it. I just can’t help the feeling that Pereira’s speed will be too much. Michel Pereira via KO, round 1.
Chris: I wish the UFC would go all in on Pereira. Just like they did with Darren Till and Alex Pereira, just launch him up the rankings and see what happens. He’s such a weirdo that we would all be better served seeing what madness he can bring to the most high profile opponents.
Staff picking Pereira: Dayne, Lucas, Stephie, Kristen, Ben, Zane, Chris, Tim, Anton, Eddie
Staff picking Petroski: Victor
Edgar Chairez vs. Daniel Lacerda
Dayne: I’m not any more sold on Chairez than I was the first time they fought. But I do believe Lacerda has learned some patience, boosting my opinion of him. Despite that, Chairez has proven himself to be one tough SOB and I still don’t believe Lacerda can outlast him. Perhaps the Brazilian can finish him early, but I’m not sure he can if he attempts to pace himself. Chairez grits it out here at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza. Chairez via decision
Victor: Went with Edgar the first time, and he’s gonna beat up Daniel right proper this time. Chairez already got a feel for him the first time. It’ll be curtains this time. Edgar Chairez by submission, round 2.
Zane: As easy as that takedown was for Lacerda, this did not look at all like a fight he was in command of or on his way to winning. Edgar Chairez via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Chairez: Dayne, Lucas, Stephie, Victor, Kristen, Ben, Zane, Chris, Tim, Anton, Eddie
Staff picking Lacerda:
Christian Rodriguez vs. Cameron Saaiman
Dayne: This is the most difficult fight at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza for me to pick. Saaiman has the higher upside of the two prospects, but Rodriguez is more polished at this stage. Saaiman is better on the feet, but Rodriguez has proven to be more than a handful on the mat. What it ultimately boils down to for me is the training situation. Saaiman remains in South Africa with limited training partners his size. Rodriguez has bounced around several camps and trained with plenty of quality partners his size. I’m prepared to be wrong, but that’s the best reason I can come up with to go one way or the other. Rodriguez via submission of RD3
Victor: Cameron’s got a lot of great tools to go with his athleticism, and yet it’s Chrisitan (no relation) that seems to have a more complete and evolved game. Maybe he’s just further along at this stage of his development. Christian Rodriguez by submission, round 2.
Zane: Saaiman has got by in the UFC so far by taking on the lowest level of bantamweight athletes and out-hustling them. He’s a good scrambler and a willing, hard-nosed striker. It’s not hard to see DDP’s style in his game, nor is it hard to see all the things DDP’s relative size and strength in comparison to his division buys him that it doesn’t give Saimaan. Rodriguez isn’t any great shakes as an athlete either, but he’s a whole lot better defensively than the guys Saaiman has been fighting so far. I think that’ll be enough to take advantage of all the wild chances the South African takes trying to stay aggressive. Christian Rodriguez via decision.
Staff picking Rodriguez: Dayne, Stephie, Victor, Kristen, Ben, Zane, Chris, Anton, Eddie
Staff picking Saaiman: Lucas, Tim
Darren Elkins vs. TJ Brown
Dayne: The wheels are going to fall off Elkins at some point. I don’t believe it happens against Brown at UFC Fight Night: Yusuff vs. Barboza, though. Brown isn’t a great athlete, has struggled to put together finishes in the UFC, and has issues with his fight IQ. That’s exactly the type of fighter Elkins would devour in his prime. Now, he’s the type of fighter Elkins has been squeaking by. This could be the fight where Elkins can’t pull it off anymore, but Brown has established himself as someone I don’t trust. That’s enough for me to pick old reliable at least one more time. Elkins via decision
Victor: I can’t pick against…
To read the rest of our UFC Fight Night: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.
The pirate captain Eddie Mercado is gaining on the stern of the good ship Dayne Fox, coming within a pick of the lead. Anton falls down to fourth after going 5-5 and Zane going 7-3 last week at UFC Fight Night: Dawson vs. Green. Zane goes third based on him having the better record last week over Anton (he’s going to love that). No need to look at any other records from last week, though. It’s time to look forward, not back, let’s see what happens after it’s all said and done at UFC Fight Night: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza.
|Position||Staffer||Correct||Incorrect||Total Picks||%||Picks Back||Week 34 Record|
|1 (-)||Dayne 🇺🇸||258||159||417||0.619||6-4|
|2 (-)||Eddie 🏴☠️||257||160||417||0.616||1||7-3|
|3 (▲)||Zane 🇺🇸||254||163||417||0.609||4||7-3|
|4 (▼)||Anton 🇵🇭||254||163||417||0.609||4||5-5|
|5 (-)||Kristen 🇺🇸||247||170||417||0.592||11||6-4|
|6 (-)||Stephie 🇫🇯||245||158||403||0.608||13||5-5|
|7 (-)||Tim 🇨🇦||236||181||417||0.566||22||3-7|
|8 (-)||Lucas 🇧🇷||230||175||405||0.568||28||4-6|
|9 (-)||BE Community 🌎||193||156||349||0.553||65||6-4|
|10 (-)||Chris 🇺🇸||187||208||395||0.473||70||0-0|
|11 (-)||Victor 🇺🇸||171||133||304||0.563||87||4-6|
|12 (-)||Jack 🇨🇦||158||116||274||0.577||100||0-0|
|13 (-)||Ben 🇺🇸||59||35||94||0.628||199||0-0|
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