On Saturday, October 12th, the UFC will be live from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, for UFC Fight Night 161, also known as UFC Fight Night 161: Jedrzejczyk vs Waterson and UFC on ESPN+ 19. This event features a women’s strawweight battle between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Michelle Waterson.
Jedrzejczyk is a former UFC champ and Waterson is a former Invicta FC champ. Both women rank in the Top 7 of the division. The co-main event is a featherweight bout between Cub Swanson and the talented prospect Kron Gracie.
In total, this event features 14 MMA bouts. The prelims are set to begin at 5 PM ET and the main card is scheduled to start at 8 PM ET. The entire event will stream live on ESPN+.
Sportsbooks offering UFC betting have released their odds for the full slate of UFC Fight Night 161 fights. Let’s step inside the betting octagon and examine these current betting lines, identify any possible betting value or upsets, and KO our picks.
The preliminary card features eight fights and is set to begin at 5 PM ET on ESPN+.
Chito Vera (14-5-1) vs Andre Ewell (15-5)
Chito Vera (-172)
Andre Ewell (+147)
I’m mildly surprised that this fight will be the opener for the prelims. These two fighters are skilled and deserving enough to have a higher placement on the card. Nevertheless, they should make for an entertaining opener.
Vera is the betting favorite with a dozen UFC fights under his belt. He debuted with the promotion almost five years ago and has gone 8-4 since then. Vera is on a four-fight win streak, all via stoppage. Twelve of his 14 wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission.
Ewell has gone 2-1 inside the octagon since he debuted 13 months ago. He’s a taller featherweight with a three-inch height and a six-inch reach advantage over his opponent. Eleven of his 15 wins have come via stoppage with seven via KO/TKO.
The winner of this fight will be the result of where the battle ends up. If it can remain upright, then Ewell will win. If it goes to the mat, then Vera will win. Ewell’s takedown defense has been shoddy at best. He lost 10 months ago via submission but bounced back four months ago to win.
All five of Vera’s losses have come via decision. I believe he will pick up his 6th decision loss this weekend as Ewell outpoints Vera in an entertaining opener.
UFC Bet: Andre Ewell (+147)
J.J. Aldrich (7-3) vs Lauren Mueller (5-2)
J.J. Aldrich (-180)
Lauren Mueller (+155)
In the first of three women’s fights on the night, J.J. Aldrich takes on Lauren Mueller in a bout where both women are looking to bounce back from losses.
Mueller is the underdog as she’s dropped to 1-2 inside the octagon after losing two straight fights. She will be the bigger fighter in this matchup and will look to use the size to her advantage. Mueller’s plan of attack is simple – come straight forward and pummel her opponent.
Aldrich dropped her last fight 6 ½ months ago via TKO to Maycee Barber. The loss snapped a three-fight win streak. She’s now 3-2 inside the octagon but has looked improved over the last two years. Aldrich has shown an efficient striking attack that should be the difference in this fight. She’s quicker with her hands than Mueller.
Combined, these two women have gone the distance 11 times. I expect this bout to go to the judges as both women appear tough enough to withstand the physical battle. I’m giving the edge to Aldrich in this fight, but Mueller could be worth a flier for those of you hungry for upsets and underdogs.
UFC Bet: J.J. Aldrich (-180)
Marvin Vettori (11-4-1) vs Andrew Sanchez (11-4)
Marvin Vettori (-280)
Andrew Sanchez (+240)
Vettori is the largest betting favorite for the prelims portion of this event. This fight was supposed to take place last month in Vancouver, but Sanchez fell ill, and the fight was scrapped. This enraged Vettori, who has vowed to hurt Sanchez in this weekend’s bout.
Marvin “The Italian Dream” Vettori returned to the octagon in July and defeated Cezar Ferreira via unanimous decision. It was his first fight since losing via split decision to Israel Adesanya, the new undisputed middleweight champ.
Some still believe that Vettori won that fight. He indeed came the closest to handing Adesanya his first career defeat. Ten of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of submission. Vettori has never been stopped in his career. All four of his losses have been via decision.
Sanchez appears to be the more technically sound fighter between the two. He’s pulled off two solid wins in his last two bouts. Sanchez defeated both Marc-Andre Barriault and Markus Perez via unanimous decision. Seven of his 11 pro wins have come via stoppage.
Vettori will get this win on Saturday. I believe his pace and pressure will be the difference in this contest, and it will lead to a unanimous decision win. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he catches a late-round stoppage as Sanchez does have three TKO/KO losses in his career.
UFC Bet: Marvin Vettori (-280)
Max Griffin (15-6) vs Alex Morono (16-5)
Max Griffin (+124)
Alex Morono (-144)
Griffin comes in as the underdog in this fight, having dropped two of his last three bouts. However, his previous fight was in April, and he won via majority decision. Griffin has a career record of 3-4 inside the octagon. His most impressive win was a unanimous decision victory over Mike Perry 20 months ago.
Nine of his 15 wins have come via stoppage with seven by way of TKO/KO. He also has 11 fights that have gone the distance with a record of 6-5 in those contests.
Morono has won two straight fights, which has improved his overall UFC record to 5-2 with 1 NC. He last stepped inside the octagon in March and defeated Ottow via TKO in the 1st round. Eleven of his 16 wins have come via stoppage. Eight of his pro fights have gone the distance, and he has a record of 4-4 in those bouts.
I think that both men are going to come out and embrace a striking battle. Morono tends to look for that vicious knockout even if it leaves him open at times. Griffin is more than willing to embrace a firefight even when he’s getting the worst of it.
With that said, I like Griffin to pull off the betting upset. I believe he has the better striking game and should be able to dictate where this fight takes place. Griffin will have a four-inch reach advantage, which means he can keep a distance between himself and Morono.
Griffin also has a decent enough takedown defense to keep the fight upright, as well. I like Griffin to win this fight via unanimous decision. Combined, these two men have gone the distance in 20 of their 42 pro fights.
UFC Bet: Max Griffin (+124)
Hector Aldana (4-2) vs Miguel Baeza (6-0)
Hector Aldana (+170)
Miguel Baeza (-200)
Aldana enters this fight 0-2 inside the octagon and looking for a win to keep his spot on the roster. He hasn’t fought in 11 months and is facing an undefeated prospect. Aldana has shown me much inside the octagon and I can see why online betting sites have him as a sizable underdog.
Baeza earned his spot with the UFC after winning his fight on DWCS in June. He’s undefeated with four of his six pro wins coming via TKO/KO. Three of those TKO/KO wins came in the 1st round. Baeza will have the height and reach advantage in this contest.
This is probably the least exciting matchup on the entire card. I don’t see it being that competitive. I wouldn’t be surprised of Baeza wins via 1st round TKO. I’m taking Baeza in this fight and hoping it’s a quick result.
UFC Bet: Miguel Baeza (-200)
Deiveson Figueiredo (16-1) vs Tim Elliott (15-8-1)
Deiveson Figueiredo (-205)
Tim Elliott (+175)
Elliott is a sizable underdog in his first fight back inside the octagon in 22 months. He was once one of the most entertaining fighters in the division, but now he’s more of a question mark than anything else. Which version of Elliott will we see on Saturday: the contender or a pretender?
Nine of his 15 pro wins have come via stoppage with six of those by way of submission. Eleven of his 24 pro fights have gone the distance. He’s compiled a record of 6-4-1 in those bouts.
Nicknamed “The God of War,” in his native tongue, Figueiredo has been impressive since joining the UFC 28 months ago. Over that span, he’s gone 5-1 with some solid wins against guys like Moraga and Pantoja.
His lone loss came to the highly regarded Jussier Formiga, who’s currently ranked 3rd in the flyweight division. Thirteen of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with eight of those by way of KO/TKO.
This could be a very entertaining battle and a potential candidate for a fight night bonus. If Elliott returns to the octagon at top form, then he will make this a war. With that said, Figueiredo has impressed me during his time with the UFC. I like his blend of striking and scrambling skills.
Furthermore, I believe he has the power and the viciousness to stop Elliott via TKO/KO. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I’m taking “The God of War” to win this fight.
UFC Bet: Deiveson Figueiredo (-205)
Ryan Spann (16-5) vs Devin Clark (10-3)
Ryan Spann (-145)
Devin Clark (+125)
Devin Clark is the slight underdog in this light heavyweight showdown. Although he has more octagon appearances under his belt, he’s struggled more as of late than Spann. Clark has a 4-3 UFC record but has alternated between wins and losses over the last two years.
His last fight was in June, and he won via unanimous decision. Six of his 10 pro wins have come via decisions. He hasn’t stopped an opponent in 3 ½ years.
Spann has won six straight fights, including his first two UFC bouts. He last competed inside the octagon in May and defeated Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via 1st round KO. Fourteen of his 16 pro wins have come via stoppage with 10 by way of submission. Nine of those submission wins came in the 1st round.
Both fighters have disappointed at times, but I see more paths to victory for Spann in this contest than I do Clark. I believe Devin has a weaker chin than Spann and is a tad bit slower. Clark is also giving up roughly five inches in height and over six inches in reach.
I believe Spann can score a stoppage victory in this contest. He will either finish the fight via TKO or rock Clark to the point that Devin hits the mat and opens an opportunity for Spann to clinch a chokehold. Either way, I’m taking Spann in this contest.
UFC Bet: Ryan Spann (-145)
Mike Davis (7-2) vs Thomas Gifford (17-8)
Mike Davis (NA)
Thomas Gifford (NA)
This fight was originally scheduled to be Gifford versus Brok Weaver. However, within the last week, Weaver was pulled from the card. According to Brok, via his Twitter account, he’s not sick or injured:
“I’m not injured either. This is above my head. I’m on weight, ready to scrap right now but the UFC [won’t] let me fight.”
Whatever the reason, the UFC decided to remove Weaver from the fight and replaced him with Mike Davis on four days’ notice. Davis last fought in April and lost in his UFC debut against Gilbert Burns via submission in the 2nd round. Furthermore, this new matchup has been moved from the main card to the prelims.
Davis was set to fight two weeks ago in Denmark, but his opponent Danny Henry pulled out of the event due to a late injury. Nicknamed “Beast Boy,” Davis has won six of his seven pro fights via TKO/KO.
As for Gifford, he was prepared to take on Weaver and was stunned as everyone else when Brok was removed. Like Davis, Gifford also lost his UFC debut in April when he dropped the fight via unanimous decision to Roosevelt Roberts. Thirteen of his 17 pro wins have come via submission.
This fight will come down to Davis’ takedown defense as Gifford is a better grappler and might not want to test his chin against Davis’ power. With that said, Burns had no problem working toward submission, and I see Gifford doing the same thing. I’m taking Gifford to win this fight via submission in the 2nd round.
UFC Bet: Thomas Gifford (NA)
UFC Fight Night 161 Main Card
The main card of UFC Fight Night 161 features six fights and is set to begin at 8 PM ET and it will stream live on ESPN+.
Eryk Anders (12-4) vs Gerald Meerschaert (29-11)
Eryk Anders (-155)
Gerald Meerschaert (+135)
In the opening bout of the main card, Anders and Meeschaert meet in a middleweight clash where both men are trying to pile up consecutive wins.
Meerschaert, dubbed “GM3,” snapped a two-fight losing streak by taking out Trevin Giles two months ago via 3rd round decision. It was the 21st submission victory in his career. GM3 is a profound submission artist who tends to devour his opponents on the mat.
Anders lost three straight fights before snapping that skid with a 1st round KO over Castro in June. Anders has been one of the most active fighters in the UFC. This will be his 12th fight in the last three years. This will also be his 3rd fight of 2019. He’s currently 4-4 inside the octagon.
Nine of his 12 wins have come via stoppage with eight by way of KO/TKO. He’s never been forced to tap out before, but this could be his first time.
This fight will either end on the feet with a TKO by Anders or on the mat with a tap out by GM3. I’m leaning toward Anders winning this one. He’s returning to the middleweight division after going up to light heavyweight. He’s also convinced me with his confident view on the outcome of this fight:
“The game plan is to go out there and win in devastating fashion. I think I have a very underrated jiu-jitsu game and overall grappling game. We all know what I am capable of and can do on the feet and that is what I like to do. I’m very well versed on the ground as well. Wherever the fight takes place I like my chances.”
I feel more confident in his takedown defense than I do Meerschaert’s chin. I’m taking Anders to win via 2nd round TKO.
UFC Bet: Eryk Anders (-155)
Luis Pena (7-1) vs Matt Frevola (7-1-1)
Luis Pena (-159)
Matt Frevola (+139)
Matt Frevola debuted with the UFC in January 2018 after earning a shot in the octagon from a victory on DWTNCS. He ended up losing his debut fight to Marco Polo Reyes before go to a draw with Vannata last November and then scoring a unanimous decision in April against Turner.
Four of his seven wins have come via stoppage. Frevola will be giving up six inches in height and five inches in reach.
I’ve said it multiple times now, but Pena is one of my favorite fighters to watch because I love his nickname of “Violent Bob Ross.” Pena is on a two-fight win streak and has a 3-1 record inside the octagon. Six of his seven wins have come via stoppage with four by way of submission.
This fight is Pena’s to lose. He has the reach advantage to pepper Frevola from a distance. And, if Frevola tries to close the gap then Pena can go for a takedown and use his submission skills to get the win. Either way, I see Pena painting a happy little victory come Saturday night in Tampa.
UFC Bet: Luis Pena (-159)
Mackenzie Dern (7-0) vs Amanda Ribas (7-1)
Mackenzie Dern (-130)
Amanda Ribas (+110)
In the second women’s bout of the night, we are going to have a solid strawweight battle between the undefeated Mackenzie Dern and the top-notch Amanda Ribas.
Ribas has just one loss on her career, and it came nearly four years ago in a fight against Polyana Viana. She didn’t fight for over three years before returning to the octagon in June. Upon her UFC debut, she had to take on the rugged Emily Whitmire. Ribas won via 2nd round decision.
Six of her seven pro wins have come via stoppage. Those wins are evenly split between KO/TKO and submissions.
Dern comes into this bout undefeated and quickly moving up in the rankings. A victory here should put her within the Top 15. Dern is 2-0 with the UFC but hasn’t fought since May 2018. Since then, she had a baby and lost 20K followers on Instagram because of it.
Now that she’s got her followers back, she’s ready to fight again. All kidding aside, with a healthy baby and a return to the octagon, things seem to be looking up for Dern. And, I believe Ribas will be looking up at lights on Saturday after Dern forces her to tap out.
This fight is close in betting odds with both women offering value, but it’s Dern who will get the win. Her grappling skills are elite due to being a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I don’t see Ribas defending the takedowns effectively. Dern will get her down to the mat and work until she finds the submission for the victory.
UFC Bet: Mackenzie Dern (-130)
James Vick (13-4) vs Niko Price (13-3)
James Vick (+135)
Niko Price (-155)
In what was scheduled as the main event of the prelims, it has now been moved to the main card. Additionally, we could be seeing a potential knockout of the night between these two fearless strikers.
James Vick is the more desperate of the two fighters as he’s lost three straight fights and in danger of being cut by the UFC. Somehow, I don’t see him being out of work for long as he would get snatched up by Bellator because he’s a hard-hitting striker who entertains the fans.
All three of Vick’s losses were in the lightweight division. He’s moving up to welterweight for this contest. Some believe he will be poised for a better outcome now that he doesn’t have to cut so much weight. Eight of his 13 wins have come via stoppage.
Niko Price started in the UFC with a lot of momentum but has gone 1-2 over his last three fights. Price is 5-3 with 1 NC in his nine fights inside the octagon. His last bout came in July, where he lost via TKO to Geoff Neal.
Twelve of his 13 pro wins have come via stoppage with nine of those by way of TKO/KO. He does have two TKO/KO losses, which is one less than Vick.
Vick will have the technical edge in this contest, but Price will have the advantage in power. I believe it’s that power that will win him the fight. I expect Vick to get his shots in but eat one too many power shots and end up face-first on the canvas for his 4th TKO/KO loss.
I’m taking Niko “The Hybrid” Price to win this fight via TKO/KO, probably in the 2nd round.
UFC Bet: Niko Price (-155)
Cub Swanson (25-11) vs Kron Gracie (5-0)
Cub Swanson (+145)
Kron Gracie (-170)
Cub Swanson returned to the octagon in May after being out for nine months. Unfortunately, his losing streak continued after he dropped a split decision to Burgos. It’s the 4th straight loss for Swanson, and I have a hard time thinking he will survive the 5th loss in a row.
With that said, this fight has a backstory to it that gets me pumped. These two MMA fighters met 15 years ago in the U.S. Open for jiu-jitsu. Swanson had just come off winning the Pan-American games in his division as a blue belt in 2003 and was moving on to face Gracie at the U.S. Open in 2004.
At that time, the Gracie family name was already legendary due to Kron’s uncle Royce Gracie, father Rickson Gracie, and grandfather Helio Gracie. Kron was viewed as jiu-jitsu royalty. Unfortunately for Swanson, he lost 3-2 but not without some controversy.
It’s this controversial loss that has left a bad taste in Swanson’s mouth for 15 years. In fact, after what he deemed to be the ref and tournament officials cheating for Gracie, Swanson left the world of jiu-jitsu and moved on to MMA where he’s been ever since.
Swanson didn’t hesitate to take this fight when the UFC presented it to him. Cub is very fired up to get revenge for that 2004 tournament match:
“He’s coming into my world. I respect him; the dude is talented. But there’s no favoritism in this one. I stepped into his world 15 years ago. Now he’s stepping into mine.”
Cub has a solid jiu-jitsu background, but clearly not to the level of Gracie. However, Swanson does have the advantage in striking. Eleven of his 25 pro wins have come via TKO/KO.
Gracie is 5-0 in MMA and was spoon-fed Alex Caceres in his UFC debut eight months ago. Gracie has won all five of his fights via submission, which is no surprise. Additionally, he will notice that Swanson has seven submission losses on his record.
Although Swanson is a talented black belt jiu-jitsu practitioner, Gracie is still in a league above him. Cub is going to have to do everything he can to keep this fight up right where he has his best chance at winning. On the other side, Gracie will need to navigate the striking to get the takedown.
The safe play here is taking Gracie to win via submission. But I’m feeling a bit on the wild side right now. I like Swanson’s motivation, and he will be the best opponent that Gracie has faced in his hand-fed MMA career.
I don’t see this ending up as a traditional grappling match. Gracie is going to have to show a tough chin and a solid striking defense. I’m not sure he can do that because we haven’t seen him have to yet. With that said, I’m going to pick Cub Swanson to win this fight via decision or TKO and get revenge for 2004.
UFC Bet: Cub Swanson (+145)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-3) vs Michelle Waterson (17-6)
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-400)
Michelle Waterson (+330)
As of this writing, the #5 ranked Jedrzejczyk is in danger of not making the weight cut. She naturally walks around a lot heavier than the 115-pound strawweight limit. The MMA world is buzzing over the rumors that she’s struggling to make the weight cut with less than 48 hours before weigh-ins.
These rumors even got to her opponent Waterson who was a bit upset over the prospects of Jedrzejczyk not making the fight. With that said, Waterson is still preparing for this bout.
Jedrzejczyk has made the following comments about these weight cut rumors:
“Did I miss something, were the weigh-ins today? It’s Wednesday. The weigh-ins are Friday, right? I had a good night’s sleep last night. Let’s stay calm. I’m focused on my final weight cut. I don’t even check the media. I don’t check this crazy stuff.”
If Jedrzejczyk can’t make the final weight cut, then Waterson has the option of taking this bout, with an increase in pay, at a catchweight. I doubt the UFC will be able to find a suitable replacement in time. The only other option would be to cancel the fight outright and elevate Swanson vs Gracie to the main event.
If the fight does happen, it’s going to be very competitive. Waterson is just outside of the Top 5 as she’s ranked 7th in the division. She’s on a three-fight win streak and has 12 stoppage wins on her resume. Nine of those 12 wins have come via submission.
Jedrzejczyk has lost three of her last four fights, but they’ve been to the best in the sport: Valentina Shevchenko (current flyweight champ) and the former strawweight champ Rose Namajunas on two different occasions.
Jedrzejczyk’s lone win in the last two years was against the 13th ranked Tecia Torres, who handed Waterson her recent loss 22 months ago. Ten of Jedrzejczyk’s 15 wins have come via decision. Twelve of her 18 pro fights have gone the distance, and she has’ a record of 10-2 in those fights.
I’m going with the underdog in this fight. I believe where there’s smoke; there’s fire. And, these weight loss rumors could mean that Jedrzejczyk will struggle to make weight and that will take a lot out of her. I expect it to affect her inside the octagon, where Waterson will capitalize on it.
I’m taking Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson to win this fight via submission or TKO from the mat. Waterson is solid in striking, but she will be outgunned by Jedrzejczyk who has a three-inch height and reach advantage. Waterson is the better of the two on the mat. This is where she will need to take the fight to win.
The following UFC fighters offer solid betting value based on their current MMA odds, UFC Fight Night 161 matchups and career success:
Andre Ewell (+147) is the underdog in his fight against Marlon “Chito” Vera (-172). So, it’s going to be a bit risky taking him to win. With that said, I like his height and reach advantage to lead to a decision win as he outpoints Vera.
Max Griffin (+124) is the underdog against Alex Morono (-144) but has a four-inch reach advantage which will be the difference in a fight that stays upright for all three rounds. I like Griffin’s striking arsenal to outperform Morono’s.
Mackenzie Dern (-130) is the slight betting favorite over Amanda Ribas (+110). However, her jiu-jitsu and grappling skills are superior to Ribas, and I believe that will be the difference. Dern still has value at these odds.
Cub Swanson (+145) is looking for revenge against Kron Gracie (-170) for a jiu-jitsu tournament loss 15 years ago that has eaten at Swanson ever since then. Cub believes he was cheated. I think he will be able to keep the fight upright long enough to get the TKO.
Michelle Waterson (+330) is the biggest underdog of the night against Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-400). However, JJ is having a hard time making weight, which could hurt her inside the octagon if the fight goes forward. Waterson has the ground advantage as well.
Final Thoughts on UFC Fight Night 161
At first glance, this card didn’t impress me. However, after digging through some of the matchups, I’m looking forward to it. I believe it has more depth than the UFC 243 PPV card had last weekend.
From the prelims to the co-main event and the main event, if it takes place, there are at least a half dozen fights that will legitimately entertain fight fans of all levels.
As for the betting side of things, this card has plenty of betting value and several underdog opportunities. Not only will fans be able to enjoy the show, but they may also make some serious cash on UFC Fight Night 161.
UFC Fight Night 161 Betting Recap
Andre Ewell (+147)
J. Aldrich (-180)
Marvin Vettori (-280)
Max Griffin (+124)
Miguel Baeza (-200)
Deiveson Figueiredo (-205)
Ryan Spann (-145)
Niko Price (-155)
Eryk Anders (-155)
Mackenzie Dern (-130)
Thomas Gifford (NA)
Cub Swanson (+145)
Michelle Waterson (+330)
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...
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