Justino remains the 145-pound Invicta FC featherweight champion, but she has been forced to cut to 140 pounds for her two UFC appearances because the promotion does not have a 145-pound weight class.
It doesn't have a 140-pound weight class, either, but let's not get off topic. Justino's weight has been covered extensively leading up to this fight, as it always is. Now it's time to talk about the fight itself.
Let's take a closer look at the Brazilian's sophomore UFC appearance as well as a few other matchups on the card. Don't agree with these picks? Let me know on Twitter: @bokamotoESPN.
Cris Justino (15-1) vs. Lina Lansberg (6-1)
Odds: Justino -1275; Lansberg +825
The word "mismatch" comes to mind.
It's pretty well documented by now that Justino is a shark swimming in a pond of 145-pound minnows. The division just doesn't exist within the UFC, so it's difficult finding this woman a fight (let alone a competitive one). Until one of the UFC's top 135-pounders finds it in her best interest to fight Justino, we're going to see matchups like this. There's nothing wrong with Lansberg, but she's in way over her head -- stylistically and physically.
Lansberg, 34, is a former professional kickboxer out of Sweden whose MMA career is less than 4 years old. She has done a nice job of playing to her strengths through seven pro fights, although all have come against a weaker level of opposition than what she'll see this weekend. Her nickname is "Elbow Princess," and it's hard to understate how much she loves throwing them 'bows. They are her weapon of choice anytime she's within a certain range.
Where does she hold an advantage against Justino, though? The answer might legitimately be "absolutely nowhere." She's bringing elbows to a knife fight. Justino's right hand lays waste to everything it touches, and very quietly she's getting more efficient with it. Her clinch striking matches up perfectly fine with Lansberg's, especially when you consider the size difference. Justino is skipping meals and taking birth control just to make 140. Lansberg is a 135-pound fighter.
Although we tend to expect a standup showcase out of Justino, she has a major grappling advantage here as well. If she wanted to take this to the floor and finish it via ground and pound, there's not much evidence that suggests she couldn't.
If we're searching for something that might play out in Lansberg's favor, it would be the drastic weight cut for Justino. You add up the weight cut, the emotions of fighting at home, the fact so many of her fights end within the first minute -- usually that adds up to a gassed fighter. But even though her UFC debut was quick (81 seconds), Justino showed a lot of composure for such a big moment and very little wasted energy. And she's such a workhorse in the gym (she has to be; burning calories is one of the main requirements when she fights at this weight) that cardio has never been a major issue. Surviving and hoping Justino gets tired might be a game plan ... but it's probably not a very effective one.
Lansberg has been very impressive at times during her career, particularly inside that clinch -- but again, the level of competition wasn't the same and her overall skill set is not on par with Justino. She also hasn't displayed a ton of knockout power, which lessens the likelihood of that "puncher's chance" all fighters have.
Prediction: Lansberg will be a lamb led to the slaughter. Justino via KO in 55 seconds.
Renan Barao (33-4) vs. Phillipe Nover (11-5-1), featherweights
The Barao we used to know may be gone forever. A few holes have been exposed and it's fair to question where his confidence is at this point. He should have enough to win this, though.
Prediction: Barao submission.
Paul Felder (12-2) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (20-4), lightweights
Trinaldo has won six in a row against quality opposition. He'll get in the face of Felder, who has had issues in the past of not pulling the trigger. This is a tossup.
Prediction: Felder TKO.