Lightweights Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje will square off in the main event of UFC on ESPN 2 on March 30, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

“Fighting" Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje

Barboza is the 6th ranked lightweight in the UFC. The Rio de Janeiro native enters this fight with a record of 20-6 with 12 knockouts and 1 win by submission.The 33-year old American Top Team product stands 5-11 with a reach of 75 inches. Barboza has been a perennial contender but has never fought for a world title in the UFC.

Junior is primarily a striker, owing to his background in Muay Thai and kickboxing. In fact, Barboza was a former Muay Thai kickboxer before transitioning to MMA. Barboza is known for his kicking game and is considered to be one of the hardest kickers in the UFC, finishing multiple bouts with kicks.

What are the Moneyline Odds?

Barboza

-139

Gaethje

+119

Odds from betonline.ag as of 3/08/19

The 30-year old Gaethje is the UFC’s 8th ranked lightweight. Known as the Highlight, Justin Gaethje was the former WSOF lightweight champion. He has a record of 19-2 with 16 knockouts. Gaethje stands 5-11 and has a reach of 71 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance.

The Highlight is known for his aggressive fighting style, knockout power and his insane ability to take heavy damage. Gaethje also has NCAA Division 1 wrestling background but he rarely goes to the ground because of his preference to fight in the standup game. Gaethje has lost two out of his last three bouts.

“Fighting" Who Wins?

This fight has violence written all over it. Barboza has vicious leg kicks and he loves throw body shots. Gaethje meanwhile, well he throws punches like he wants to cut off his opponent’s head. I don’t see this fight going to the ground at all because these are two elite strikers.

The key to this fight will be Gaethje’s defense because Barboza slows his opponents down with his body shots and leg kicks. If Gaethje gets peppered with those, he loses his ability to deliver his own attack. Unfortunately, Gaethje’s best defense is his face so it will be interesting to see how his chin holds up because he’s been knocked out in both of his losses.

On the other hand, Barboza ha a tendency to slow down as the fight gets longer. He also has issues with defense because he leaves himself wide open when he attacks. That could be the opening Gaethje needs to land his big punch. Gaethje needs to land just one  big punch and this is going to be over.

The first two rounds should be an exciting striking battle but if Barboza can’t take Gaethje out early, I think the Brazilian gasses out due to relentless pressure. It’s going to be fun while its lasts but I’m picking Justin Gaethje to beat Edson Barboza at UFC on ESPN 2.

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“Fighting" Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson

Kowalkiewicz is looking for another crack at the strawweight belt. The 33-year old lost to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 205 and since then, she’s gone 1-3. Kowalkiewicz stands 5-3 and has a reach of 64 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. KK has a record of 12-3 with one knockout and two submissions. On the other hand,  Waterson is coming off a dominant win over Felice Herrig at UFC 229, her second straight victory. The Karate Hottie is 16-6 with three knockouts and 9 submissions. The 33-year old orthodox fighter stands 5-3 with a reach of 62 inches.

What are the Moneyline Odds?

Kowalkiewicz

-145

Waterson

+125

Odds from betonline.ag as of 3/08/19

Waterson has a much better all-around game but Kowalkiewicz excels in what she does well: keeping here range, throwing perfectly-timed counters, letting out good flurries and then resetting. Waterson though is a smart fighter and can find holes in KK’s game. One thing I have in mind is Waterson utilizing side or oblique kicks to throw off Kowalkiewicz’s distance control. If that works, it should open opportunities for a take down. KK has good takedown defense but the Karate Hottie is much better on the ground. If this fight goes to the ground, Waterson is likely going to get a submission. That won’t be easy though and I think KK keeps this fight on here feet.

I’m picking Karolina Kowalkiewicz to beat Michelle Waterson by decision.

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“Fighting" Sodiq Yusuff vs Sheymon Moraes

Yusuff is a recent signee after defeating Mike Davis in Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, Season 2. He recorded a 1st round TKO win over Suman Mokhtarian at UFC Fight Night 142 last December. His record is 8-1 with 5 knockouts. Yusuff stands 5-9 with an undisclosed reach and fights out of the orthodox stance.

What are the Moneyline Odds?

Yusuff

-170

Moraes

+145

Odds from betonline.ag as of 3/08/19

Moraes joined the UFC in 2017 and after getting submitted by Zabit Magomedsharipov in his promotional debut, he’s won two fights in a row by beating Matt Sayles and Julio Arce. The 28 year old Brazilian has a record of 11-2 with 5 knockouts. Moraes stands 5-8 and has a reach of 72 inches while fighting as an orthodox fighter. Moraes is a legit prospect and has fought quality opposition even prior to his UFC tenure. These are still raw talents who will likely prefer to fight this one on their feet. Moraes has better fundamentals but I like Yusuff’s explosion and athleticism.

I’m picking Sodiq Yusuff to beat Sheymon Moraes by knockout.

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“Fighting" Quick Picks

Here are quick picks from the other bouts in the event:

  • Ross Pearson +275 vs Desmond Green -335 – Prediction: Desmond Green by decision
  • Alexa Grasso -160 vs Marina Rodriguez +140 – Prediction: Marina Rodriguez by decision
  • Kennedy Nzechukwu -250 vs Paul Craig +210 – Prediction Kennedy Nzechukwu by TKO

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