Edson Barboza vs. Kevin Lee
The main event offers up a match-up between two fighters looking to bounce back from a loss and preserve their place in the upper reaches of the lightweight division.
Barboza’s striking is among the best in the weight class, with particularly dangerous leg kicks being one of his best weapons, along with crisp boxing, good movement and range management.
As such, though Lee’s own striking has markedly improved, its not in his best interests to try to trade with Barboza for extended periods in this fight. Instead, he should be aiming to use his strong wrestling game to bring the Brazilian down, where his top control and submission prowess will pay dividends.
Barboza has solid takedown defense, but I think Lee’s wrestling and athleticism will win out and lead to him claiming a submission finish before the championship rounds.
Prediction: Kevin Lee to win by submission in Rd3 @ $12- BET NOW
Frankie Edgar vs. Cub Swanson
Edgar dominated Swanson on the mat the last time these two fought back in 2014, so this wasn’t a match anyone was particularly demanding to see again, although they have both gone 4-2 in the division since that time.
The most puzzling thing about this match-ups is that Edgar is involved at all given that its only six weeks since he suffered the first knockout loss of his career against Brian Ortega – and a brutal one at that.
That provides the biggest question mark in this fight as though the 36-year-old Edgar’s skills and cardio haven’t eroded in the four years since they last fought, we’ve never seen him have to bounce back from as devastating loss as this one was before.
Nevertheless, I still favor Edgar to win here as he can stand and trade with Swanson if required, but will likely be even more eager than the last time to show off his superior wrestling skills on the mat, although unlike the last time I think he’ll have to settle for a win on the scorecards rather than by submission.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar wins by decision @ $1.72- BET NOW
Chase Sherman vs. Justin Willis
Two hard-hitting heavyweights on show here as ‘The Vanilla Gorilla’ Chase Sherman goes up against Justin ‘Big Pretty’ Willis.
Sherman is very much a stand-up fighter and has won no less than 10 of his 11 career victories by way of strikes, doing a good job of working in kicks as well as punches, throwing out a solid volume of strikes rather than just relying on one big blow.
Willis is a big man who cuts to make the heavyweight limit, which leads to some cardio concerns, but he actually moves pretty well for his size and has the power to trouble Sherman’s potentially fragile chin as well as notably also having the wrestling to be able to take his opponent down.
As always when heavyweights collide the fight could end at any moment, but I do favor Willis here to be the one with more ways to win and I’ll take him to get a second round KO victory.
Prediction: Justin Willis wins by TKO in Rd2 @ (no market available yet) – $1.30 for the win – BET NOW
David Branch vs. Thiago Santos
In this match-up there’s little doubt about what the two fighters strategies will be.
For Santos, keeping the fight on the feet is a must, and as proven by the fact he has four TKO finishes from his last four fights, he is a fearsome opponent when he’s got the opportunity to unleash his punches and kicks.
However, Branch has a distinct grappling advantage and successfully implemented that to win both WSOF’s 185lb and 205lb titles before returning to the UFC, while he is also a threat from submission too.
If Branch can consistently get Santos down then he has a very good chance here, but the Brazilian has good takedown defense and can scramble back to his feet if needed, so I like his superior firepower on the feet to be the key factor here, leading to a TKO in the second round.
Prediction: Thiago Santos wins by TKO in Rd2 @ (no market available yet) – $1.45 for the win – BET NOW
Brett Johns vs. Aljamain Sterling
Sterling’s last Octagon outing was a complete disaster, suffering as brutal a knockout as was seen in the UFC last year against Marlon Moraes.
Luckily for him his next fight sees him going up against an opponent in Johns who is by no means a KO specialist, with just two stoppages due to strikes from 15 career victories.
However, that’s not to say the undefeated Johns can’t hold his own in the striking department if required, but it’s his wrestling and forward pressure that are his greatest assets.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Moraes loss affects Sterling’s confidence, but his striking was coming along prior to that. However, Like Johns, Sterling’s at his best when he’s grappling and he is very good in scrambles and transitions, often leading to his favored rear-naked choke submission finish.
This is a good test for both fighters, but while Johns certainly has a chance here, I do think Sterling is the more skilled of the two and will edge out the grappling battle to emerge with a win on the scorecards.
Prediction: Aljamain Sterling to win by decision @ (no market available yet) – $1.90 for the win – BET NOW
Daniel Hooker vs. Jim Miller
Part of the furniture in the UFC, the 34-year-old Miller will actually tie with Michael Bisping for the most fights in UFC history on Saturday night when he takes on Hooker, who is six-years his junior.
Miller has lost his last three fights in a row and he’s likely to have some trouble on the feet against Hooker here, with his opponent enjoying a four-inch advantage in both height and reach.
Generally Miller’s best work comes on the mat and he’s an ever-present threat with submissions, so he should have the edge there, though Hooker is capable there too.
Hooker has good takedown defense and his physical advantages will also help him to fend off Miller’s attempts to bring him down here. Perhaps a younger version of Miller would simply outwork Hooker here, but in the present day I think it’s the ‘Hangman’ who will land the better strikes from range to win on the scorecards.
Prediction: Dan Hooker wins by decision @ (no market available yet) – $1.26 for the win – BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Alex Garcia vs. Ryan LaFlare
Magomed Bibulatov vs. Ulka Sasaki
Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Luan Chagas
Corey Anderson vs. Patrick Cummins
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Aspen Ladd vs. Leslie Smith
Merab Dvalishvili vs. Ricky Simon
Tony Martin vs. Keita Nakamura