MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR THURSDAY: UFC BOOKS GAETHJE VS. BARBOZA, BLAYDES VS. WILLIS
A pair of high profile bouts from the UFC lightweight and heavyweight divisions are added to forthcoming struggle cards, and I will give my first thoughts on those 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 has been targeted at UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Farah Hannoun broke the information, although ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the struggle may take place at UFC Fight Night 149 another week at Philadelphia. Either way, it appears like this fight will happen, which is good news for MMA fans because it pits two of the most dangerous and exciting 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 amazing show. He has already racked up five bonus awards, including three”Fight of the Night” awards and two”Performance of the Night” awards, such as a bonus because of his KO over James Vick last August. He has been more prone to being knocked out in the UFC as he dropped to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, but as he showed against Vick and Michael Johnson, he has incredible knockout power himself. Barboza (20-6) is 14-6 overall at the UFC and in his last fight he put about the 2018″Beatdown of the Year” for his brutal TKO win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is famous for his deadly leg kicks and incredible knockout power, but such as Gaethje he has been prone to the knockout too.
This looks to be an amazing fight on paper, and also the fact it’s set for five rounds is just tremendous. Both men are excellent fighters and I am anticipating a close gaming lineup. At this point, it looks like near a Pick ’em fight, but thinking about how good Barboza looked in his last fight he might get more support from bettors because of recency bias.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis, UFC Fight Night 148
A heavyweight matchup between Curtis Blaydes and Justin Willis is also place for UFC Fight Night 148. FloCombat’s Nolan King broke the news. Blaydes (10-2, 1 NC) is 5-2, 1 NC in the UFC and in his last fight suffered a brutal knockout loss to Francis Ngannou. He’d won four straight fights before that, though, including a TKO over Alistair Overeem, and could easily get back into the heavyweight title talks with another few wins. Willis (8-1) is 4-0 at the UFC and in his last fight picked up the biggest win of his career to date over Mark Hunt. The issue with Willis has been that he hasn’t shown off much finishing ability in the UFC, and his wrestling is likely to be negated in this matchup against Blaydes. It is heavyweight so that you can not ever count anyone out, but on paper that looks like Blaydes’ struggle to win and I expect him to be a strong favorite when the odds come out.
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