One week after the UFC returned to Brazil for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Legacy Fighting Alliance is set to follow suit with LFA 151 on Saturday night. The evening will be headlined by the LFA featherweight tournament finals between Jose Delano and unbeaten Gabriel Santos. The winner will take home the LFA featherweight championship. Saturday is also set to feature a vacant strawweight championship fight in the co-main event between Brazil’s Julia Polastri and Argentina’s Brenda Gottig.
The event will emanate from Ginásio do Polvilho in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Veteran MMA commentator Ron Kruk will be cage-side to present the action and will be joined by Max Soares and Brazilian legend Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira.
LFA 151 will be streaming live on UFC Fight Pass beginning at 6:45 p.m./3:45 p.m. PT for the prelims with the main card set to get underway at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Main Event Breakdown
Santos vs. Delano
The stage for Saturday’s main event became set when Santos knocked off another impressive Brazilian Márcio Barbosa at LFA 146 in November 2022. Prior to the fight, LFA CEO Ed Soares announced the winner would take on Delano, the featherweight tournament’s other semi-final winner in the tournament championship in January. Sure enough, two of Brazil’s future featherweight stars, both 26 years old, will square off in a must-see main event for fans of regional MMA before the opening month of 2023 comes to a close.
After experimenting with the flyweight and bantamweight divisions early in his career, Santos has found a home for himself at 145 pounds. Since moving up to featherweight, “Mosquitinho” is 2-0 and coming off a head-kick knockout of Barbosa in a main event fight he entered as a slight favorite. The fight also happened to be his LFA debut. Prior to arriving at Soares’ promotion, Santos got a taste of championship experience when he won a five-round decision against Elvis Silva to win the Future MMA featherweight crown. While he comes from a grappling background and owns at least three submission wins, Santos showed against Barbosa he is an evolving striker in the sport. With five-round experience and the trial of successfully finding the correct weight class to compete in, Santos will be difficult to stop.
As much as “Mosquitinho” appears to be on a collision course with the UFC, Delano will look to steal some hype from the impressive prospect. A rising Brazilian name in his own right, Delano has the benefit of a 3-0 record inside the LFA cage. Each of those wins came during an outstanding 2022 stretch which began with “Ze” scoring a unanimous decision victory over Jonas Bilharinho, a Dana White’s Contender Series alum who will also be competing on Saturday. His most recent win over Jair Jesuino in the featherweight tournament’s other semifinal match came by way of a first-round knee, and his killer instinct might be his greatest attribute against Santos. Before his unbeaten opponent can take him into deep waters, the onus will be on “Ze” to land some fight-altering damage early or score another early finish if he wants to make it four consecutive wins in the LFA.
Oddsmakers currently see Santos as roughly a -350 favorite, while Delano can be had for around a +240 price tag.
Co-Main Event Breakdown
Polastri vs. Gottig
The LFA featherweight championship will not be the only title on the line on Saturday. The vacant strawweight championship will be contested between a pair of impressive prospects in Polastri and Gottig. Brazil’s Polastri has spent the majority of her career competing exclusively in her home country. However, she got a taste of the primetime when he took on Canadian Jasmine Jasudavicius on a 2021 episode of DWCS. She dropped the fight by way of unanimous decision, but she showed she could respond to adversity with a pair of wins since. Her most recent win came in LFA when she finished Bianca Sattelmayer with a third-round TKO at LFA 146. She is now set for her return to Brazil and has title aspirations on her mind.
Polastri’s opponent, Gottig, is yet to taste defeat in her career. Prior to turning professional, she logged a 3-0 amateur record with a pair of finishes. After turning pro, “Arenita” kept the momentum going by compiling six wins in four years. Five of her six wins have come by way of finish, as the Argentine has flashed prodigious power and vicious ground and pound for the 115-pound division. While she will be making her LFA debut on Saturday, she is no stranger to title fights and is coming off a first-round ground and pound victory over Laura Balin in which she claimed the Invictus Deluxe strawweight championship. The lights will be bright for Argentina’s Gottig, but if she can avoid a fate similar to what Polastri experienced on DWCS, she could immediately find herself on the fast track to a DWCS appearance of her own.
Polastri, the hometown favorite, can be had on most sportsbooks at approximately -280. The Argentine, meanwhile, can be bet at around a +220 value.
Other Fights of Note
The featured fight will be contested between Milson Castro and Anderson Ferreira, a pair of impressive Brazilian lightweights. Castro is coming off a loss to Mamuka Usubyan in kickboxing, but is riding a 13-fight winning streak dating back to the early beginnings of his career in 2017. Ferreira, the man looking to slay the metaphorical dragon, is no stranger to winning streaks himself, having also won 13 consecutive fights at one point in his career. However, he is just 3-3 since. Both fighters are also set to be making their promotional debuts and could find themselves on an even playing field, though Castro is still marked by sportsbooks as the heavy favorite.
The main card will also feature an exciting matchup between the aforementioned Bilharhinho and Caio Machado. Despite landing a third-round spinning wheel kick knockout on DWCS, Bilharhinho did not receive a UFC contract and responded by dropping his first fight back in LFA. He has since rebounded from the loss, but should have his hands full with Machado. “Lionheart” is currently on his second stint with LFA, but has posted a strong strength of schedule with defeats to future UFC bantamweights such as Jammall Emmers, Nate Maness and Miles Johns. With six of Machado’s last seven fights ceasing to reach the judges’ scorecards, Bilharinho vs. Machado could be a dark horse for fight of the night.
The prelims will be headlined by unbeaten Brazilian lightweights Matheus Rocha (5-0) and Jefferson Nascimento (8-0). Nascimento, who has fought as heavy as 176 pounds in his young career, will be making his 155-pound debut. The larger Nascimento has recorded wins by anaconda choke and keylock at different points in his career, but will need to contend with a proven finisher in Rocha, who has won all of his fights by knockout or TKO. Rocha’s most recent victory came by way of jab, so Saturday’s preliminary main event could be ripe for a statement performance from either side.
Every fighter made weight for their respective bouts except for Manuel Robson Minoto. Minoto will forfeit a portion of his purse to his opponent Joabson Alves, but the fight will proceed at a 156.2-pound catchweight.