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A pair of high-profile bouts in the UFC lightweight and heavyweight divisions have been added to upcoming fight cards, and I’ll give my initial thoughts on those brand new matchups in today’s 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 in Nashville, Tennessee. Farah Hannoun broke the information, although ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the struggle may take place at UFC Fight Night 149 the next week in Philadelphia. Either way, it looks like this struggle is going to take place, which is fantastic news for MMA fans as it pits among the very dangerous and fascinating strikers from the lightweight division against each other.
Gaethje (19-2) is 2-2 so far in the UFC but has become 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 and two»Performance of the Night» awards, including a bonus for his KO over James Vick past August. He has been prone to being knocked out in the UFC as he dropped 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 put on the 2018″Beatdown of the Year» because of his barbarous TKO win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is known for his mortal leg kicks and amazing knockout power, but like Gaethje he’s been prone to this knockout too.
This looks like an amazing battle on paper, and the fact it’s place for five rounds is just enormous. Both guys are excellent fighters and I’m expecting a close betting line. Now, it looks like close to a Select ‘em fight, but thinking about how good Barboza appeared in his last fight he may get more support from bettors due to recency bias.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis, UFC Fight Night 148
A heavyweight matchup between Curtis Blaydes and Justin Willis can also be 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 had won four consecutive fights before that, though, like 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 is that he hasn’t shown off considerably completing ability from the UFC, and his wrestling is likely to be negated in this matchup against Blaydes. It is heavyweight so you can’t ever count anyone out, but on paper that seems like Blaydes’ fight to win and I expect him to be a solid favorite when the chances come out.
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