UFC on ESPN 2 I Squared Up: Barboza vs Gaethje

Jason Paglia

Friday, March 29, 2019 1:06 AM UTC

Friday, Mar. 29, 2019 1:06 AM UTC

The UFC returns to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the first time in 8 years this Saturday night with the best fight card they have produced in over a month. To say the events have been lacking excitement in 2019 would be an understatement but, the good news is it’s always fun to make some cash.

<p>In the Co-main event, David Branch desperately tries to string together consecutive wins for the first time in two years when he takes on Jack Hermansson. In the night cap, the UFC decided to give Philly some fireworks to close the show as Edson Barboza squares up against Justin Gaethje in Saturday’s Main Event. Let’s break this Main Event down to a fine powder.</p><h2>EDSON BARBOZA (20-6) vs JUSTIN GAETHJE (19-2)</h2><p><a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/fighting/int/ultimate-fighting-championship/justin-gaethje-vs-edson-barboza-3753221/" title=" Justin Gaethje vs Edson Barboza Odds">Saturday March 30th, Wells Fargo Center</a></p><p><img alt src="https://ms.sbrfeeds.com/redirect-proxy/redirect/?url=http://media.ufc.tv/generated_images_sorted/NewsArticle/E/Edson-Barboza-Family-First/Edson-Barboza-Family-First_522752_OpenGraphImage.png" style="width:600px;height:312px" /></p><h2>Edson Barboza</h2><p>Edson Barboza comes into Saturday’s Main Event ranked the #6 Lightweight fighter in the world despite the fact he has dropped two of his last three fights. Barboza is one of the better strikers the UFC has produced in the last two decades, especially his leg strikes. His legs are literally legendary in the sport of MMA. It is his calling card. His plan every fight is to chop you down like a tree until you are immobilized, then comes in for the kill.<br /><br /><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5c9d75b76726e00b4d3fff61/original-UFC-Stats-Barboza" style="width:617px;height:165px" /></p><p><u>― <font size="3"><b>PROS ―</b></font></u></p><p>• <font size="3"><b>Striking</b></font><font size="3"> (The best leg kicks in MMA today, possibly of all-time</font><font size="4">. </font><font size="3">Crippling leg power and accuracy)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Speed </b>(Great muscle twitch reaction, excellent hand / leg speed and quickly cuts angles in exchanges to stay at range.)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Takedown Defense/Sprawl </b></font><font size="3">(It’s very hard to get Barboza to the ground / 80% takedown defense mostly because he picks opponents apart from the outside so he sees takedown attempts from a mile away. Although he occasionally runs into to bad takedown defense under relentless pressure, it’s still a net positive.)</font></p><p><u>― <font size="3"><b>CONS ―</b></font></u></p><p>• <font size="3"><b>Pressure </b>(His entire game falls apart when Barboza deals with relentless pressure. It is his kryptonite.)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Chin </b>(Most of Barboza’s ‘cons’ stem from situations when he is pressured. He has been dropped multiple times in fights, which is scary considering who his next opponent is, but his chin tends to hold up more when he sets the mid-range pace he likes.)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Fatigue </b></font><font size="3">(Again, if Barboza is pressured and is unable to set the pace, he has major adrenaline dumps during scrambles, exchanges and defending pressure takedowns.)</font></p><h2>Justin Gaethje</h2><p><br /><img alt src="https://www.lowkickmma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/USATSI_11132121_168382968_lowres.jpg" style="width:600px;height:399px" /></p><p>Justin Gaethje comes into Saturday’s Main Event ranked the 8th Lightweight fighter in the world. Even though he has managed to accumulate a 19-2 record, the majority of his fights were fought in the WSOF (World Series of Fighting) promotion. Although Gaethje has only had four fights in the Octagon, it’s been a trial by fire. A 2-2 record is actually solid when the fights are against Dustin Poirier, Eddie Alvarez, Michael Johnson and James Vick. If there is one thing that has stood out in his limited time in the UFC, it’s power. Legitimate middleweight power, stuck in the frame of a 155 lbs lightweight.<br /><br /><img alt src="https://images-production-euw2-753931602578.s3.amazonaws.com/5c9d74f57074f50b4e36164a/original-UFC-Stats" style="width:627px;height:196px" /></p><p><u>― <font size="3"><b>PROS ―</b></font></u></p><p>• <font size="3"><b>Power </b>(If there are three people in the Lightweight division that hit harder than Gaethje I would be surprised. The kid has bricks in his glove.)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Controlling Pace </b>(Gaethje draws almost everyone he fights into his type of fight pace, a barroom brawl in the mud. The weirdest facet of Gaethje's game is when he is on the edge and closest to losing, he miraculously is also closest to winning.</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Leg Strikes </b>(If Barboza has the most terrifying leg kicks in the Lightweight division, Gaethje has the second most powerful leg strikes in the Lightweight division.)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Clinch Strikes</b> (When Gaethje gets in side, and I mean all the way inside….. He consistently finds the button (jaw) in the clinch. Some guys can’t, but he can and he is good at it)</font></p><p><u>― <font size="3"><b>CONS ―</b></font></u></p><p>• <font size="3"><b>Chin</b> (Lately Gaethje’s chin has been suspect but, like Barboza if it isn’t coming from a counterpunch in a wild exchange he tends to hold up well. Probably a net negative though)</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Ground Game</b> (Has shown zero skills in BJJ, no wrestling base, from what we’ve seen so far, lacks the ability to roll in scrambles, has shown no desire to take anyone down, If there is one bright spot in a ground game that is nonexistent, he does have a solid sprawl per attempt ratio but that is it.</font><br />• <font size="3"><b>Fight IQ</b></font><font size="3"> (I swear when you watch a Justin Gaethje fight, you could literally see the thought bubble above his head that says….. “UGGGGH JUSTIN LIKE SMASH HARD.” He is a total meathead and it’s served him well, but these constant step ups in competition against high IQ fighters have already cost him fights.</font></p><h2>THE VERDICT<br /> </h2><p>At the end of the day, the type of fighter that Edson Barboza has trouble against is the complete opposite fighter that Justin Gaethje is. That is why he struggled against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee. They set the pace, they got inside, he gassed out trying to stop takedowns and that gave them the opening they needed to GnP him round after round. Barboza thrives against standup fighters that want to strike and avoid the ground. That is the definition of Justin Gaethje's style. Barboza is in his flow when he is mid-range picking his opponents apart with devastating leg kicks and his best punch, his left hook. When he is circling his opponents and using his jab to keep the exact distance he thinks he needs to be successful, then everything is going right for him. Justin Gaethje is going to stand in front of him and try to put him to sleep. There is one reason to be concerned if you are backing Edson Barboza. HE CAN’T HANDLE PRESSURE… like at all. Sometimes Justin Gaethje let’s his opponents set the pace. If that happens we should have a successful night. Other times Gaethje jumps you and relentlessly gets in your face and inside on you. That is why he knocked James Vick out in less then 1 round. At the end of the day, Gaethje’s only path to victory is a TKO. He is not a volume striker, that’s why he doesn’t win decisions. Barboza will out strike him, that is a fact. <strong>The bottom line is Edson has more paths to victory in this fight. That’s why I’m backing him Saturday night. Lay it.</strong><br /><br /><strong>THE TIP:</strong> <a href="https://www.oddsmarket.com/fighting/int/ultimate-fighting-championship/justin-gaethje-vs-edson-barboza-3753221/" title="Edson Barboza to win odds">Edson Barbosa to win at 10/13 (1.76)</a></p>
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