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UFC Fight Night 106 panel picks: Vitor Belfort and Shogun Rua keep on keepin' on

UFC Fight Night 106

UFC returns to Fox Sports One Saturday with a fairly stacked show from Fortaleza, Brazil, headlined by former UFC titleholder Vitor Belfort taking on one-time welterweight Kelvin Gastelum.

The latter is unbeaten at 185 in the UFC, including a TUF tourney win at that weight several years ago.

Near the top of the card, former UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua returns to battle journeyman Gian Villante while we get a must-see fight between two top 10 lightweight contenders in Edson Barboza and Beneil Dariush.

The show also features two flyweights looking to get a title shot (Jussier Formiga vs. Ray Borg) while former title challenger Bethe Correia fights on her home soil against Marion Reneau to round out the main card.

If you're new here, our panel picks are listed below and listed alongside the fighter's names are their worldwide FightMatrix rankings, as well as BestFightOdds.com betting odds. The panelist's 2017 records is in parentheses, and we also have panel consensus picks as well as a line where we show how the betting favorites did:

  • Dave Meltzer (15-4; .789) -- Wrestling Observer publisher
  • David Bixenspan (14-5; .737) -- MMANews.com editor, Sherdog.com contributor, podcast host
  • Consensus Picks (14-5; .737)
  • Favorites (13-6; .684)
  • Mike Sempervive (13-6; .684) -- Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
  • John Pollock (13-6; .684) -- Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
  • Mike Sawyer (12-7; .632) -- Tough Talk MMA publisher
  • Steve Juon (12-7; .632) -- MMA Mania writer, Angry Marks publisher
  • Ryan Frederick (10-9; .526) -- WrestlingObserver.com UFC writer
  • Paul Fontaine (9-10; .474) -- MMADraws.com publisher, WrestlingObserver.com writer
  • Josh Nason (9-10; .474) -- Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out, WrestlingObserver.com assistant editor
  • Front Row Brian (9-10; .474) -- MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host

> Vitor Belfort (25-13) vs Kelvin Gastelum (14-2)

The 39-year-old Belfort is a first ballot HOF'er and former two-time UFC champion, but is looking for his first win since 2015 after back-to-back losses to Jacare Souza and Gegard Mousasi. 

Standing across the cage will be a man 14 years his junior in Gastelum. He has struggled with weight-cutting issues at 170 lbs but since moving to middleweight, he’s looked great. He finished the very tough Tim Kennedy last time out, sending him into retirement. After hitting 10-0, he's 3-2 in his last five with a two-fight win streak.

Belfort's UFC title opportunites are far behind him, but with a win here, Gastelum could enter the conversation in what is becoming a very crowded group at the top of the middleweight division. At the very least, he would remain the "interesting fight" category.

  • Belfort (#9; +336 betting underdog): Fontaine
  • Gastelum (#10; -359 betting favorite) FRB, Juon, Frederick, Sempervive, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Meltzer

> Shogun Rua (24-10) vs Gian Villante (15-7)

Another former UFC champion, Rua has a mediocre 8-8 UFC record but has faced only the top level of competition during his run in the Octagon. Even for people calling for his retirement the past few years, he is on a two-fight win streak for the first time since 2009 as he makes one final run in his legendary career.

His opponent is also on a good run, having won four of his last six. This will be the biggest fight of his career. His last three wins have all come by KO, something Rua will have to watch for given that his last two defeats came via T/KO.

  • Rua (#8; -137 betting favorite): FRB, Juon, Frederick, Sempervive, Sawyer, Fontaine, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Meltzer

> Edson Barboza (18-4) vs Beneil Dariush (14-2)

Many experts are pointing to this as the fight to watch on this show. The 31-year-old Barboza beat former champions in each of his last two fights, scoring wins over both Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez in 2016, and is 3-2 in his last five.

Dariush has lost just one of his last eight fights and scored an impressive win over top prospect Rashid Magomedov in November after a June KO over rising division foe James Vick.

Both of these two are dynamic fighters and this has “fight of the night” written all over it.

  • Barboza (#5; -142 betting favorite): Juon, Frederick, Sempervive, Sawyer, Fontaine, Pollock, Nason, Meltzer
  • Dariush (#9; +150 betting underdog): FRB, Bix

> Jussier Formiga (19-4) vs Ray Borg (10-2)

If Barboza vs. Dariush doesn't do it for you, this is the most relevant in terms of title contention of any fight on the show with two top flyweights vying to be the next in line to dethrone King Demetrious.

Formiga’s career goes all the way back to the WEC days. He’s won 4 of his last 5 fights, including a win over the next challenger to DJ in Wilson Reis. The 31-year-old is coming off a September decison win over Dustin Ortiz, rebounding from a split decision loss to title contender Henry Cejudo.

Borg has also won four of five and is just 23 years old. He beat Louis Smolka last time out, which was the biggest win of his career.  

  • Formiga (#5; +105 betting underdog): FRB, Juon, Frederick, Sempervive, Fontaine, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Meltzer
  • Borg (#11; -110 betting favorite): Sawyer

> Bethe Correia (10-2) vs Marion Reneau (7-3)

The 33-year-old Correia is most famous for her feud with Ronda Rousey’s "Four Horsewomen", which culminated with a title challenge defeat to Rousey at UFC 190 in Brazil. The “Pitbull” returns to her native country to compete for the first time since that defeat and is 1-1 in her last two.

Reneau is 39 years, but started lates so is not that old in “fighting years”. Her 3rd round KO win over Milana Dudieva in November snapped a two-fight losing streak and may have saved her job. A win here could put her in the top 10.

  • Correia (#11; +105 betting underdog): FRB; Juon, Sempervive, Fontaine
  • Reneau (#21; -112 betting favorite): Frederick, Sawyer, Pollock, Nason, Bix, Meltzer


The rest of the card:

> Tim Means (26-7-1) vs Alex Oliveira (16-4-1)

  • Means #23; -181 betting favorite
  • Oliveira #25; +205 betting underdog

> Francisco Trinaldo (21-4) vs Kevin Lee (14-2)

  • Trinaldo #13; +153 betting underdog
  • Lee #20; -149 betting favorite

> Sergio Moraes (11-2-1) vs Davi Ramos (6-1)

  • Moraes #42; -211 betting favorite
  • Ramos #195 at lightweight; +215 betting underdog

> Joe Soto (17-5) vs Rani Yahya (23-8)

  • Soto #38; +191 betting underdog
  • Yahya #14; -175 betting favorite

> Josh Burkman (28-14) vs Michel Prazeres (21-2)

  • Burkman #94 at welterweight; -226 betting favorite
  • Prazeres #32; +241 betting underdog

> Rony Jason (14-6) vs Jeremy Kennedy (9-0)

  • Jason #81; -102 betting underdog
  • Kennedy #123 at lightweight; -105 betting favorite

> Garreth McLellan (13-5) vs Paulo Henrique Costa (8-0)

  • McLellan #142; +252 betting underdog
  • Costa #96; -250 betting favorite

Action begins with the Fight Pass prelims at 7 PM EST and moves over to FS 1 at 8 PM EST. The main card continues on FS 1 at 10 PM EST, covered by our Ryan Frederick.