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The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s latest offering from the UFC Apex this Saturday in Las Vegas features a surprisingly solid preliminary slate, topped by one of the better bouts on the entire UFC Fight Night 190 card. Raoni Barcelos continues his Sisyphean journey through the bantamweight rankings, and while his confrontation with Timur Valiev does not figure to do much for his profile, it is still a fascinating affair. Further down, there is the return of Michel Prazeres, as well as the opportunity for some fun fighters like Julia Avila, Charles Rosa and Yancy Medeiros to get back in the win column.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Gane vs. Volkov” prelims:
BantamweightsNR | Raoni Barcelos (16-1, 5-0 UFC) vs. NR | Timur Valiev (17-2, 1-0 UFC)
ODDS: Barcelos (-220), Valiev (+180)
He has thankfully kept winning, but it has been a frustrating few years for Barcelos. A relatively late arrival to the sport, Barcelos hit the UFC in his early 30s and immediately went about proving himself as someone to watch, running over his first three opponents and then capping 2019 with a win over Said Nurmagomedov that figured to lead to big things. Over the last year and a half, Barcelos has been slated for some breakthrough opportunities, getting matched with ranked opponents like Cody Stamann, Merab Dvalishvili and Raphael Assuncao. However, each of those fights has fallen through for various reasons, and so the 34-year-old has been left to tread water. His only bout since the Nurmagomedov win was a one-sided victory over Khalid Taha, and he gets a tough but relatively low-profile opponent in his latest assignment. Valiev was long considered one of the better bantamweights outside the UFC leading up to his promotional debut in 2020, but the Russian’s wins sometimes feel like less than the sum of his considerable talents. Valiev does not typically have a clear game plan or approach but instead usually relies on his strength and ability to see him through while refusing to take his fights into a second gear. That hurt him in his UFC debut—a shocking come-from-behind knockout suffered against Trevin Jones. As a result, Valiev has found himself having to dig his UFC career out of an early hole, though he did rebound with a one-sided and wrestling-heavy win over Martin Day in February. There is a chance that Valiev could eke out a decision, as Barcelos tends to cede some early ground; the Brazilian tends to take the first round to feel out his opponents before turning up the offense in the second and third. Valiev brings enough power and physical strength to the table that Barcelos is unlikely to completely run over the Russian once he starts picking up steam. With that said, Barcelos’s wrestling should be there as needed, and his much more focused approach, along with his willingness to throw volume, should carry him through at least two rounds on the scorecards. The pick is Barcelos via decision.
Continue Reading » Rakhmonov vs. Prazeres