Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje will collide inside the octagon for tomorrow night’s unmissable UFC Philadelphia main-event headliner.
Two of the most technically astute action fighters on the roster today, colliding for a scheduled (but likely unrequired) five-rounds in a fight that should prove crucial for their hopes of cracking the 155lb top-5.
Justin Gaethje has well and truly delivered on all of the expectations we had held for him upon joining the UFC.
Sure, he might not win every matchup he takes as a consequence of his style, but there are few fighters, if any, who have mastered the art of abrasion quite like he has.
Gaethje’s pressure, volume, and sheer determination to fight on are the primary tools in his arsenal but underrated grappling, striking dynamism, and punching power make him a far more well-rounded fighter than many give him credit for.
The thing is, he fights how he wants to fight.
‘The Highlight’ has the wrestling credentials to trouble anyone at 155lbs but as we all know, he uses that facet of his skill-set simply to keep him on his feet as he presses forward.
Edson Barboza has proven himself to be as dangerous a fighter as one could ever imagine on several occasions inside the octagon.
Muay-thai is said to be the art of the eight limbs, the hands, elbows, feet, and knees.
Barboza can put your lights out with any one of those tools.
Though certainly prone to lapses in his momentum and instances of poor decision-making, as far as technical striking is concerned, Edson is as vicious a finisher as one could hope for.
Don’t bet on this one reaching the judges’ scorecards folks!
So how do I see it playing out?
Well, as we all know, this is a matchup between two of the most potent leg-kickers in the business – guys who are skilled at breaking their opponents down from the base upwards.
The thing is, if anyone’s going to be throwing and landing them in this matchup it’s going to be Gaethje.
I can Barboza’s rhythm being disturbed by Justin’s constant pressure and as we’ve seen in the past, Edson really does start to struggle when you take away the space to fire off those kicks by limiting the time for him to settle into his stance.
Gaethje could get caught and hurt big-time by his Brazilian adversary, don’t get me wrong, but if all goes to plan for the former WSOF champion, he should swarm Barboza and eventually test his chin.
I expect the highlight to follow up his first-round stoppage of James Vick with another strong showing in Philly.
Prediction: Justin Gaethje via second-round TKO.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena