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 upcoming fight cards, and I’ll give my first thoughts on these brand new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza, UFC Fight Night 148
An intriguing lightweight bout between strikers Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza is being targeted for UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Farah Hannoun broke the news, though ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the struggle may occur at UFC Fight Night 149 the next week at Philadelphia. Either way, it looks like this struggle is going to take place, which is good news for MMA fans as it pits two of 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 as a result of his ability to put on an amazing show. He has already racked up five bonus awards, including three”Fight of the Night” awards along with two”Performance of the Night” awards, such as a bonus for his KO over James Vick last August. He’s been prone to being knocked out at the UFC because he lost to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, however as he demonstrated against Vick and Michael Johnsonhe has incredible knockout power himself. Barboza (20-6) is 14-6 overall at the UFC and in his last fight he place on the 2018″Beatdown of the Year” for his barbarous TKO win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is famous for his deadly leg kicks and amazing knockout energy, but such as Gaethje he’s been prone to the knockout too.
This looks like an wonderful fight on newspaper, and also the fact it’s set for five rounds is just enormous. Both guys are terrific fighters and I am anticipating a close betting line. Now, it seems like near a Select ’em fight, but considering how good Barboza looked in his last fight he might get more assistance 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 set for UFC Fight Night 148. FloCombat’s Nolan King broke the information. Blaydes (10-2, 1 NC) is 5-2, 1 NC at the UFC and in his final fight suffered a brutal knockout loss to Francis Ngannou. He’d won four straight fights before that, however, like a TKO over Alistair Overeem, and could easily get back to the heavyweight title talks with another couple of wins. Willis (8-1) is 4-0 in the UFC and in his last fight picked up the biggest win of his career thus far over Mark Hunt. The problem with Willis has been that he has not shown off much finishing ability in the UFC, and his wrestling is very likely to be negated in this matchup against Blaydes. It’s heavyweight so that you can’t ever count anyone out, but on paper that seems like Blaydes’ struggle to win and I expect him to be a solid favorite when the odds come out.
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