5 UFC Fighters to Fade in 2021

We started out our MMA betting for 2021 with 5 fighters to bet on this year and now we switch gears completely and look for 5 mixed martial artists to fade. This wasn’t easy but I tried to go with fighters who have seemingly turned a corner in their career downward but still have big enough names to be overvalued by the sportsbooks.

Let’s be clear. If one of these fighters somehow happens to be undervalued by the sportsbooks, then they could potentially be a good betting play. Some of the odds of these fighters’ next fights I have seen already and I think there is a pretty safe assumption that these guys and gal will be overvalued in 2021.

Some of these fades are leftover from 2020. I will admit that but I still see them getting love from the online sportsbooks that is completely undeserving. These are good fighters once upon a time and you will see one of them had a 10-fight UFC win streak at one point.

Tony Ferguson Fade

They can’t be amazing forever and if you look at when the United States Anti Doping Agency came to the UFC, you can line up when some fighters’ careers took a quick shift south. One of those fighters is Brazilian, Warlley Alves.

Starting with an awesome name for a fighter and coming out of Brazil, Warlley Alves looked like a cartoon character he was so jacked and really threw down hard once he got inside the Octagon.

There were a lot of fighters who became overwhelmed. Since the entry of USADA, though, Warlley has never been the same and I think we have a good spot to bet him early in the year. He fights Christian Aguilera who is a friend of mine but I feel has the ability as an underdog to defeat the Brazilian, Alves.

We have a former world champion on this list. Joe Benavidez is nearing the end of his rope. The lighter weight classes are certainly more ageist than the larger ones and you don’t get any smaller of a fighter on the men’s side than you do Joe B.

I have met the guy in person and no disrespect but I thought he looked like a legit little person. Forgive my vernacular here, but Benavidez is very small and could have fought at 115 pounds most likely if that would have been a UFC weight class.

I also want to address the El-ephant-Cucuy in the room with Tony Ferguson. He was on my fighters to fade list before he fought Justin Gaethje in May and at the top of it ever since. He lost to Charles Oliveira badly at the end of 2020 and I don’t expect him to ascend the ranks of 155 any longer.

Tony Ferguson was exposed and may have been a top 5 guy in the UFC’s Lightweight Division for a year or two but his time has passed and he is barely top ten anymore.

Tony Ferguson Vs Charles Oliveira With Armbar

Another wildman, maybe even crazier than Tony is Mike Perry. My friend just sent me his IG story the other day and it wasn’t pretty. I would post it here but it has expired. Mike was enjoying a nice boat ride with his pregnant wife celebrating their anniversary of 2 months of dating or something like that when that wasn’t enough fun.

In one video, he’s on the boat drinking a nice bottle of liquor watching his uber preggo wife enjoy the rays and wind, and the next thing you see, he is waking up to a pool of blood around his feet and a lot of broken glass.

The guy is a hot mess and needs help. I don’t think he is going to get the kind of help he needs from the UFC. I’m sure they are offering all the help in the world but Mike has a lot of problems and I faded him last year successfully.

We will fade him again in 2021.

And Claudia…we know you were a USADA “victim” as well but you keep on keeping them close. It is good we didn’t start our fade on Claudia Gadelha too early because even on the way down the hill, her wrestling and top control is good enough to beat most of the women in her division.

Let’s highlight who, why, and possibly how we are going to fade these fighters in 2021.

Warlley Alves

June 2015. That is around the time that USADA showed up on the doorstep of the UFC and began their intricate testing system for all of the organization’s fighters including requirements that every athlete must keep USADA abreast on their current location…all the time!

They can kiss their freedom goodbye. Just because they are independent contractors doesn’t mean that they don’t work for somebody. If it isn’t the UFC telling them what to do, it is USADA.

Warlley Alves Fade

A lot of Brazilian fighters had their performances drop off after the serious drug testing started and Warlley Alves was one of those guys but the company has thrown him a few bones in the meantime and that has allowed him to remain afloat in the UFC’s Welterweight Division.

Let’s flashback to early 2014. Warlley Alves is just 23 years old and gets his shot on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. He beats everyone on the show and is awarded a contract with the UFC.

After winning his UFC debut, he defeats Alan Jouban, Nordine Taleb, and submits Colby Covington with a guillotine! That was Colby’s first loss and he, of course, rebounded very well and has since only lost in the world title fight against Kamaru Usman.

Usman Punching Warlley

Warlley was well on his way towards title contention at 170. He beat Covington in 2015, the same year that USADA first took over the performance-enhancing drug testing for the UFC.

He fought Bryan Barberena next and lost to him and then fell victim to the current world champ at welterweight, Kamaru Usman. He then cancels his next two fights strangely and doesn’t compete for a year.

This might not sound like much but Warlley Alves had been competing very regularly before the steroid police came to town. He then defeats Salim Touahri and Sultan Aliev, two fighters who are not with the company any longer.

Then, James Krause takes him out. Okay, time for another bone from the matchmakers. Sergio Moraes has about a good 2 minutes in him until he just stops fighting. We have seen it several times from him lately so I don’t rate that win very high.

And most recently, Warlley fought Randy Brown who submitted him with a triangle choke early in the second round. That was back in November of 2019. So, Warlley has no big wins after USADA came. He has not been the same guy at all.

He opened at (-210) over Christian Aguilera, a veteran banger from Orange County. I have trained with Christain a few times and he is a super nice guy but has a mean streak that would make Bill Belichick jealous.

The betting line has been bet down now to (-160) for Alves so you can’t get max value on Aguilera but I still like the play. Unless he looks like a brand new man in this fight, I will continue to fade Warlley Alves in 2021.

Joseph Benavidez

Say it is so, Joe…

Please retire. We all think Megan Olivi is really hot and you have to admit you did pretty well for a guy who stands all of 5’4” tall.

Now, he’s calling himself “The Beefcake” too.

We don’t need to hear about Megan’s pet name for him. I thought “Joe B” might have severely lacked creativity but it made up for it with a nice ring.

Now, Brutus the Barber is gonna get his scissors all up in his arms trying to make a comeback. There can be only one Beefcake! We should fade Joe just for that silly nickname. Maybe I’m just jealous of Olivi. She is a cutie.

After winning 3 fights against 3 top ten opponents in the UFC’s Flyweight Division, Joe B stepped up to fight for the vacated belt against Deiveson Figueredo. He fell short in the first fight after getting rocked early on and was finished with ground and pound in the 2nd.

Figgy missed weight, though, so the two men locked horns once more. The result was nearly the same. Deiveson got the rear-naked choke submission late in the first round but it was set up by punches.

Benavidez’s chin just didn’t seem there to me any longer. For the longest time, it was Joe B who was dealing out most of the TKO wins at Flyweight and he still has that pop and power.

I just think at the age of 36 and a half, which makes him 40 in Flyweight years, is a hurdle too high to jump cleanly in 2021.

And for that, I think he is going to have a hard time. Plus, he is a former multiple-time world title challenger who has kept the gate at 125 pounds for nearly a decade.

All I’m saying is is that his gatekeeping days are over. I think Joe is going to start losing to non-world champs, something he has rarely done in his career.

Tony Ferguson

Aw Tony, you poor thing. After the beating this man took at the hands of Justin Gaethje back in May, we were all feeling bad for El Cucuy. I don’t know many fans who hate Tony Ferguson. I can see other fighters hating to fight the guy.

He is awkward, comes forward constantly, and just flows in random techniques together in a sequence you have probably never seen before. There is a lineup of post-Tony Ferguson fight faces from his list of victims on his 10-0 UFC streak.

It isn’t pretty either. Those guys look like they got jumped…with weapons.

I believe that Tony’s days of domination are over now.

He is such a big name that the UFC will continue to give him studs and I’m not sure how he is going to deal with it. His gait at the end of the Gaethje fight is something you don’t see much and thank goodness that’s the case because it is a sign of near death.

If you ever see a fighter moving like that, throw in the towel if you can because it is a very bad sign. Tony was also shaking his head after the final blows before Herb Dean jumped in and finally brought a halt to that malicious beating.

Khabib said it and I did as well among plenty of others:

Tony Ferguson will never be the same after that fight and it doesn’t appear that he is. When he came back against Charles Oliveira last month, he was the favorite again, and once more, we had to hit the fade on Fergy.

I believe the UFC will give him someone he can beat in his next fight but then again, the organization may be trying to distance themselves as soon as possible from Tony Ferguson.

Claudia Gadelha

Claudia! This woman takes a lot of flack from the handicappers but she still wins most of the time. We know she has been on the decline since USADA came to town but she has such a dominant style and wrestling skills, that she has continued to win more than she’s losing.

She was 11-0 when she fought Joanna Champion for the first time back in late 2014 just 6 months before the drug testers arrived. She lost both of her title shots against Joanna with the rematch being more definitive but losing to the world champ wasn’t enough to write her off.

Jessica Andrade, who is more of a bulldog than Claudia, was a bad matchup for her and the Brazilian took one for their home country and counted it as a win against a non-Brazilian as Claudia took a lot of crap for training in the US.

After that, she beat Carla, another similarly styled bulldog of a fighter, and then dropped a decision to Nina Ansaroff who is a sprawl and brawl stylist.

That seemed to be the path to victory against Gadelha. Don’t get taken down and you will beat her up. Since then, like her countryman Alves, has had a lot of pull outs, 4 in fact while only fighting 3 more times.

This is a sign that it is taking her body much longer to recover than normal as well as the likely onset of injuries which can pile up pretty quickly when you don’t have the sauce to sooth them away.

Claudia lost to Yan Xiaonan in November and I regrettably didn’t fade her that night.

Claudia Gadelha Getting Punched By Yan Xiaonan

She looked good early getting the takedown in the first but needed that second round takedown or she was going to lose.

The volume punching Chinese fighter got the best of her that night but Claudia was the underdog so not a great bet but when your dog is just one takedown away from victory, you can’t be that mad at yourself.

I have just seen and I hear this from plenty of my peers as well. Gadelha is not the same fighter she used to be and she appears to be worse off physically and mentally every time she steps into the Octagon.

Mike Perry

Finally, this fool…

Don’t smack me, Mike, if you’re reading this but you really have been at least acting a fool lately and by lately, I mean more than a year. Mike has been a mess for a while. I think it was his loss to Vicente Luque that really broke him.

He arguably won that fight on a lot of scorecards. We picked against him and I was almost kicking myself for the choice until the final minutes when the Brazilian striker landed a clean knee that sent the nose of Mike Perry all the way back to Flint, Michigan.

Vincent Luque Punching Mike Perry

And let’s not give the guy crap and call him fake hard or fake tough. You know he is tough and if he grew up in Flint, Michigan, then he knows the hood. Flint is nothing but the hood.

Since the fight with Vicente Luque, Mike has dropped two of three fights convincingly and his only win was an ugly one where he needed to use his wrestling to avoid the striking of Mickey Gall.

Mickey looked better than ever in that fight. I give the man credit there but being Mike Perry’s only win in the last year and a half isn’t a great look either. Mike doesn’t have a fight scheduled yet for 2021.

Who knows when we will see him in there again but at the very least, he has made himself a big name that you don’t want to miss fight.

In Conclusion

There you go, team. There are your 5 fighters to fade in 2021. We have more and I think this will be a great blog to write about every quarter of the year as new fades will present themselves as the year in fighting plays itself out.

I originally had my old teammate Roxy Modafferi on this list but I had to take her off of it. She is still winning about every other fight and had one of the biggest upsets of the year in 2020 when she put it on Maycee Barber for 15 minutes. Also, while other fighters’ athletic abilities are weakened in their late 30s, Roxanne never really had any overly athletic bones in her body so while others are regressing, her playing field in that regard is leveling out. She also trains with one of the best S&C coaches in the world, Lorenzo from Primetime Performance. Roxy isn’t the only UFC fighter under his wing. There are more and multiplying pretty rapidly out there in Las Vegas.

As for our fighters, we will fade in 2021, I am really leaning hard against Fergy and Mike Perry. This doesn’t mean bet against them no matter the opponent or no matter the betting odds. It just means we are looking to fade them in 2021.

Maybe we never get the opportunity but that’s okay. We won’t be forcing many bets this year.

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.