A pair of high-profile bouts from the UFC lightweight and heavyweight divisions are added to upcoming fight cards, and I’ll give my first thoughts on these new matchups in the current MMA odds and ends.
Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza, UFC Fight Night 148
An intriguing lightweight connection between strikers Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza is being targeted at UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena at Nashville, Tennessee. Farah Hannoun broke the information, although ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported that the fight may take place at UFC Fight Night 149 another week at Philadelphia. Either way, it looks like this fight is going to take place, which is fantastic news for MMA fans because it pits among the most dangerous and fascinating strikers from the lightweight division against each other.
Gaethje (19-2) is 2-2 so far in the UFC but is now a household name to MMA fans due to his ability to put on an remarkable show. He’s already racked up five bonus awards, including three”Fight of the Night” awards along with two”Performance of the Night” awards, including a bonus because of his KO over James Vick last August. He has been more prone to being knocked out at the UFC as he dropped to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, but as he demonstrated against Vick and Michael Johnson, he has incredible knockout power himself. Barboza (20-6) is 14-6 overall in the UFC and in his last fight he put on the 2018″Beatdown of the Year” for his barbarous TKO win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is known for his deadly leg kicks and amazing knockout energy, but like Gaethje he’s been prone to this knockout as well.
This looks to be an wonderful battle on newspaper, and the fact it is place for five rounds is just enormous. Both men are terrific fighters and I’m expecting a close betting line. At this point, it looks like near a Select Celtics struggle, but considering how good Barboza looked in his last fight he may get more support from bettors because of recency bias.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis, UFC Fight Night 148
A heavyweight matchup involving Curtis Blaydes and Justin Willis can also be place for UFC Fight Night 148. FloCombat’s Nolan King broke the news. Blaydes (10-2, 1 NC) is 5-2, 1 NC at the UFC and in his last fight suffered a brutal knockout loss to Francis Ngannou. He’d won four straight fights before that, however, including a TKO over Alistair Overeem, and may easily get back to the heavyweight title talks with another couple of wins. Willis (8-1) is 4-0 at the UFC and in his last fight picked up the biggest win of his career thus far over Mark Hunt. The issue with Willis has been that he hasn’t shown off much finishing ability from the UFC, and his wrestling is very likely to be negated in this matchup against Blaydes. It is heavyweight so that you can’t ever count out anyone, but on paper this looks like Blaydes’ struggle to win and I expect him to be a solid favorite when the chances come out.
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