UFC Fight Night 61 Fight Breakdown: Wendell Oliveira vs. TJ Waldburger

TJ Waldburger One of the main card bouts at UFC Fight Night 61 is a three-round welterweight bout between Wendell Oliveira and TJ Waldburger. According to the current betting lines available at Several Bookmakers, Oliveira is a -130 favorite (bet $130 to win $100) while Waldburger is a -110 underdog (bet $110 to win $100). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Waldburger at -140 and Oliveira at +100 and the public has flipped the line, with Oliveira now the favorite. I like Oliveira here as well and agree with the public flipping the line. Here’s why. Oliveira (24-8) is a muay Thai striker who is so far 0-1 in the UFC with a knockout loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio. The 31-year-old Brazilian is a solid striker who has racked up 11 wins by T/KO in his career. Prior to his UFC debut, he was riding a seven-fight win streak with four wins in that stretch by knockout, which caught Joe Silva’s eye. He didn’t look good in his UFC debut but I think the Octagon jitters got to him, which is why he literally just froze against Ponizinibbio. It could happen again, but I think he can dod a better job of controlling his emotions this time around. Oliveira simply has to keep the fight with Waldburger standing to win. If he can’t stop the takedowns he will likely get tapped out (four submission losses in his career) but if he can keep the fight on the feet he will have an edge in power, chin and technique and could potentially score a devastating stoppage victory. Waldburger (16-9) is an extremely talented submission wizard who unfortunately has a poor chin. The 26-year-old American is young in age, but not in fight years. He has been knocked out seven times in his career — as many as Frank Mir, to put it in perspective — which is the most knockout losses out of anyone in the entire 170lb division. What Waldburger lacks in his chin, though, he more than makes up for his grappling, which is out of this world. He has won 13 fights via submission in his career and is one of the craftiest fighters on the mat in all of the UFC. His wrestling isn’t great, but he more often than not finds a way to get his opponents to the ground and work his magic. In his UFC career, he is 3-4 inside the Octagon with all three of his wins coming by submission. But if he can’t get his fights to the ground he is in huge trouble on the feet, because his striking isn’t good at all and his chin can’t take it anymore, as evidenced by three knockout losses in the UFC alone. Waldburger is coming off of a long layoff an has been knocked out in his last two fights and is at huge risk of being knocked out yet again by Oliveira in this fight. This fight isn’t going the distance and I can see it ending in only one of two ways: Either Waldburger wins by submission, or Oliveira wins by T/KO. I have been high on Waldburger for a long time because his BJJ is just so much fun to watch, but while the MMA gods blessed Waldburger with a slick submission ability they didn’t bless him with a good chin. He’s been knocked out seven times, and I think Oliveira is going to make that eight, so I’m going to pick the Brazilian to win this one. Ultimately I just feel like you have to fade Waldburger’s chin in a spot against a solid muay Thai fighter with knockout power in Oliveira, because as long as this fight stays upright, Oliveira will have the edge. The line may drop back down to plus money come fight day so keep a close eye on it, but I do like Oliveira here and think he sends Waldburger packing from the UFC.

Written by Adam Martin.

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