You needed it, you bought it.
Since Justin Gaethje first signed on the dotted line to compete within the UFC, it’s like he was destined to sometime cross paths with Edson Barboza and that’s precisely what’s happening within the light-weight essential occasion of UFC Philadelphia this Saturday. Each males are recognized for his or her insanely violent brawls, killer knockouts, and leg kicks that may shred metal. So far as free fights go, they don’t come far more thrilling than this.
Middleweights David Department and Jack Hermansson could also be getting into the co-headliner with considerably much less hype behind them, however their bout might have contender implications down the highway. Department is a former World Sequence of Preventing two-division champion with a latest first-round KO of Thiago Santos, who simply so occurs to be difficult Jon Jones for the sunshine heavyweight title subsequent. Reverse Department is Hermansson, a former Cage Warriors champion who has gained 4 of his final 5 and is in search of a signature win to vault him into the highest 15.
In different essential card motion, featherweight Josh Emmett seems to bounce again from a brutal knockout loss when he takes on veteran Michael Johnson, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson jockey for place within the strawweight contenders’ line, Paul Craig fights for his UFC life in opposition to Contender Sequence signee Kennedy Nzechukwu in a light-weight heavyweight bout, and Sodiq Yusuff faces the hardest check of his younger profession when he fights Sheymon Moraes at 145 kilos.
What: UFC on ESPN 2
The place: Wells Fargo Heart in Philadelphia
When: Saturday, March 30. The three-fight ESPN+ early preliminaries start at three:30 p.m. ET, adopted by a four-fight preliminary card on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET. The six-fight essential card will even air on ESPN, starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje
Right here’s one assure: Somebody goes to get harm.
Sure, for these craving an all-out massacre, there may be motive to be involved that Justin Gaethje will lastly put his wrestling background to good use and floor Edson Barboza, a tactic that has labored for the final two males who beat Barboza, Kevin Lee and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Gaethje’s takedowns in all probability aren’t on that degree, however they might not should be if all he desires to do is sluggish Barboza down.
The place’s the enjoyable in that although?
In the case of Gaethje changing into a extra numerous, tactical fighter, you need to take an “I’ll imagine it after I see it” method. For now, assume he’s planning to match Barboza skill-for-skill on the ft. One can already image him waving Barboza on after a spinning heel kick scrapes his jaw.
The strain that Gaethje brings is nightmarish, so Barboza must be at his most agile to keep away from being backed up in opposition to the fence by “The Spotlight”; on the flipside, even Gaethje along with his legendary chin ought to proceed with warning, lest he stroll proper right into a Barboza counter. And Barboza doesn’t counter simply to again you off, Barboza counters to take your head off.
I nonetheless place confidence in Gaethje’s popularity as a harm sponge, so I see him taking punishment early on and finally carrying Barboza out along with his relentless method earlier than ending within the third or fourth spherical.
David Department vs. Jack Hermansson
At 37, this could possibly be a make-or-break battle for David Department. As well-rounded as he’s, he’s at all times been lacking that further gear to vault himself into changing into a severe UFC contender. He’ll want to seek out it if he desires to get previous Jack Hermansson.
Hermansson’s 5-2 UFC run has been outlined by his dogged dedication and willingness to take a battle anyplace. Typically it pays off, like in his gusty win in opposition to Thales Leites and when he gave submission specialist Gerald Meerschaert a style of his personal medication. Different instances, like when he needed to stand with Thiago Santos… not a lot.
This might be a battle of extremes, with the 2 measuring one another from lengthy vary earlier than working to realize a bonus within the clinch. Department is an efficient soiled boxer and Hermansson can also be lively in-close, so this might be a grueling 15 minutes for each males.
It may not be the assertion victory Hermansson is in search of, however he ought to do sufficient to eke out an in depth resolution win.
Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson
It is a enjoyable matchup between two standup fighters who use loads of motion to arrange their extra damaging pictures. I’d give Josh Emmett the facility benefit and Michael Johnson the benefit in velocity and quantity. Although Emmett has proven himself to have fast arms as effectively.
Johnson has a top-shelf jab that can make Emmett should work previous if he desires to get in shut the place he can begin trying to find a spot to land his hooks. You may anticipate Johnson to make use of punches to attain to the pinnacle and physique, whereas Emmett makes an attempt to chop off the cage and restrict Johnson’s choices.
If this goes to a call, Johnson’s extra measured hanging might have him forward on the scorecards, however I believe Emmett will be capable of register a knockdown or two to sway the judges and get the win.
Michelle Waterson vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
These two are going to placed on a hanging clinic on Saturday and choosing a winner gained’t be straightforward. Do you lean in the direction of the extra dynamic Michelle Waterson or the regular, calculating Muay Thai mastery of Karolina Kowalkiewicz?
One side of the battle to keep watch over might be to see if Waterson makes use of her underrated floor recreation to utterly take Kowalkiewicz out of her ingredient. That’s simpler stated than achieved in fact, as a result of exterior of being mauled by Claudia Gadelha a few years again, Kowalkiewicz has proven stout takedown protection. If Waterson desires to get this one to the mat, it must be with a visit or throw from the clinch. To get there, she’ll should wade via the crisp hanging of Kowalkiewicz, which suggests risking getting sliced up by the Polish standout’s elbows and knees.
At distance, these two are evenly matched, with Waterson at all times completely satisfied to point out off her arsenal of kicks and Kowalkiewicz additionally capable of stifle aggressive opponents with kicks to the physique and legs. I give Kowalkiewicz the slight edge in a clear, simple kickboxing match.
And that’s how I believe this match will unfold, so it’s Kowalkiewicz by resolution.
Paul Craig vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu
All it takes is a look at Kennedy Nzechukwu to grasp why the 26-year-old Nigerian is such an intriguing prospect. Listed at 6-foot-5, Nzechukwu brings a powerful 83-inch attain into the Octagon and that’s going to be an actual drawback for Paul Craig.
Whether or not Nzechukwu can successfully use his attain benefit stays to be seen. He was spectacular in his second Contender Sequence look, however he was nonetheless counting on his bodily items to get forward versus making distinct technical enhancements. That gained’t fly in opposition to the battle-tested Craig.
Craig has struggled to claim himself within the UFC, profitable simply as soon as in 4 appearances for the promotion and that one win got here by way of a miraculous triangle choke with one second remaining in a bout during which he was being completely dominated. His expertise will assist him right here, however will or not it’s sufficient to beat his shoddy defensive expertise?
He’ll have a tough time getting this one to the bottom and so long as Nzechukwu’s takedown protection holds up, he ought to end this one standing.
Sheymon Moraes vs. Sodiq Yusuff
Earlier than the headliners throw down, Sheymon Moraes and Sodiq Yusuff are in all probability going to place in their very own bid for the Combat of the Evening award.
Blessed with quick, correct arms, Moraes goes to check the hard-hitting Yusuff’s technical acumen and make him work to land these bombs that he’s so keen on throwing. There’s actually not far more to this matchup than that. Moraes has to play the matador to the hard-charging Yusuff and if he isn’t capable of keep out of the best way, he’s going to get flattened.
Moraes doesn’t simply should win on factors right here both. He might simply catch an over-eager Yusuff with a straight shot earlier than flurrying for a fight-ending mixture. We’ll should see if Yusuff is extra mature than his two-and-a-half years of professional expertise would counsel.
Let’s say Moraes by knockout right here.
Marina Rodriguez def. Jessica Aguilar
Desmond Inexperienced def. Ross Pearson
Kevin Aguilar def. Enrique Barzola
Kevin Holland def. Gerald Meerschaert
Ray Borg def. Casey Kenney
Sabina Mazo def. Maryna Moroz
Alex Perez de. Mark De La Rosa
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