Top 10 Lightweights Look to Bounce Back After Losses
The headline fight will be an intriguing matchup between two highly regarded Lightweights, both of whom lost their previous fights to championship contenders. In December, Edson Barboza was on the wrong end of a one-sided beating at the hands of new Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, while Kevin Lee fought Tony Ferguson for the interim belt back in October, losing by triangle choke in round three.
Barboza vs Lee is a classic matchup of striker against wrestler. While it was undoubtedly a painful night for Edson Barboza last time he stepped into the Octagon, the experience of trying to fend off the UFCs most relentless wrestler may well prove valuable this time round. He has defended 83% of takedown attempts in his previous UFC fights, and if he can keep it standing and find his range with his vicious, rapid kicks, Edson Barboza has the edge.
Kevin Lee is no slouch on his feet, but with eight submission wins on his professional record, it is unlikely that he will want to keep the fight standing. His submissions of Michael Chiesa and Francisco Trinaldo showed that Lee has the strength and skill to compete at the highest level, and while he eventually succumbed to the unorthodox style of Tony Ferguson, he is still a contender at Lightweight. A win against Barboza would certainly put him back on track for a title shot in a division that has seen more than its fair share of controversy over the last year.
As it stands, Kevin Lee has a slight edge, with 2/3 on him to win. Barboza isn’t too far behind though, with 5/4 odds offered on his victory. It’s unlikely that Barboza will prevent Lee from taking him down at least once; the outcome of the fight hinges on how quickly he can get back up.
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Is it too Soon for The Answer?
The return of former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie ‘The Answer’ Edgar just six weeks after he was knocked clean off his feet by Brian Ortega has many fans and fellow fighters concerned for his wellbeing. No one is more game than Edgar, though, and the fast turnaround typifies the dogged style that has won him so many fans over his career.
Standing in Edgar’s way is a fighter that is like him in many ways. Cub Swanson is also coming off the back of a loss to Brian Ortega, and just like The Answer, he is known for his relentless, take-no-prisoners approach, an entertaining style that has earned him a Fight of the Night bonus in each of his last three fights. Win or lose, Swanson goes out to scrap.
Frankie Edgar, though, is widely considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters ever to compete in the Octagon. He already has a win over Cub Swanson on his record, and odds are short for a Frankie Edgar win. 4/9 is about as good as you’ll get right now, while you can get odds as long as 2/1 for a Cub Swanson victory. Whatever the outcome, this one has Fight of the Night written all over it.
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Elsewhere on the Barboza vs Lee Fight Card
Lower down the card, Brazilian Thiago Santos will look to continue his rampage through the Middleweight division against David Branch. Santos has looked unbeatable of late, winning his last four fights by TKO, and a victory against Branch would surely see him crack the division’s top 10. David Branch had an 11-fight winning streak snapped in September by former champ Luke Rockhold, so it will be interesting to see how he responds against his highly-regarded opponent, who goes into the fight as the bookies’ favourite.
Aljamain Sterling was once one of the top prospects in the Bantamweight division, but his progress has stuttered in recent months, as he has won only two of his last five fights. He will no doubt feel the pressure when he steps in against undefeated Welsh fighter Brett Johns, who won his last fight against Joe Soto with a rarely seen calf slicer submission.
Veteran Jim Miller will tie the UFC record for most fights – currently held by Michael Bisping – when he enters the Octagon for the 29th time on Saturday to face Dan Hooker. Miller has lost his last three fights, and although he earned a Fight of the Night bonus in his defeat to Dustin Poirier, a fourth straight loss may well see him heading out the doors of the UFC. Hooker is a tough test, as shown by his recent highlight reel knockout of Ross Pearson and submission win over the dangerous Marc Diakiese.
Sports.net’s Top Tip
Heavyweights Justin Willis and Chase Sherman will go at it on Saturday’s undercard. Willis is on a six-fight win streak and goes into the fight as a big favourite, but Sherman is his toughest test to date. With the frightening power both mean have in their hands, anything can happen. If Sherman can keep the fight standing, he may just surprise the doubters.
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*Please note, odds may fluctuate