Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje
|Date & Time||Saturday March 30, 2019, 9:30 PM (EDT)|
Wells Fargo Center
The Line: Barboza -167 / Gaethje +153 -- Over/Under:
Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje fight Saturday during UFC on ESPN 2 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Edson Barboza enters this fight with a 20-6 record and has won 60 percent of his fights by knockout. Barboza has won four of his last six fights and is coming off a December win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is averaging 3.99 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Barboza is averaging 0.46 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 47 percent. Barboza snapped a two-fight losing streak in impressive form, as he kicked Hooker to death and eventually finished him with a punch to the body in the third round. It was a flawless performance from Barboza, and he showed just how devastating his leg kicks can be when he uses them relentlessly. It’s hard to even move when your legs are black and blue less than 10 minutes into a bout. Barboza is known for his leg work and is one of the best in the sport thanks to a deep kickboxing background and being a black belt in Taekwondo. You allow Barboza to stand up and fight from the outside, he’s going to pick you apart and quite possibly produce a finish over time. This will be Barboza’s first career fight in Pennsylvania.
Justin Gaethje enters this fight with a 19-2 record and has won 84 percent of his fights by knockout. Gaethje has won six of his last eight fights and is coming off an August win over James Vick. Gaethje is averaging 8.35 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 55 percent. Gaethje is averaging zero takedowns with an accuracy percentage of zero percent. Gaethje finally showed why he was so hyped when he left the WSOF and entered the UFC, as he landed a combination that knocked Vick clean out and earned performance of the night honors. Gaethje has shown throughout his career that the striking power and the chin is there for him to hold his own with anybody standing up. Gaethje can give and take a beating, and he loves coming forward with pressure, making his opponent uncomfortable. However, Gaethje comes from a wrestling background and has a trainer who works relentlessly on technique, so at some point you’d think that would come into play. This would probably be a good fight for Gaethje to switch things up and consider taking this fight to the canvas. This will be Gaethje’s first career fight in Pennsylvania.
Gaethje is super talented and should always be considered as an underdog, which is why we cashed on him in his last fight at +150 odds. The problem is Gaethje takes a beating time and time again when he steps into the octagon, is a bit reckless and refuses to use his wrestling for whatever reason. Gaethje wants to prove he’s this striking savage for whatever reason and it leads to a ton of punishment that could have him out of this sport sooner than later. Gaethje can win this fight either on the canvas or with constant striking pressure, but it’s tough to trust him either way. Barboza has him beat in technique, defense and those leg kicks are downright awful. When Barboza goes to work and starts chopping down those trees, you feel for the opponent.
This is a hell of a matchup on paper and could go either way, but Barboza is the safer pick due to technique and defense.