Another week, another UFC card this Saturday thanks to the new arrangement between the company and ESPN. UFC on ESPN: Barboza vs. Gaethje is the third time the promotion has staged a card Philadelphia and the first since UFC 133 in August 2011. Here’s a look at the main fights and UFC odds.
UFC on ESPN Barboza vs Gaethje Odds & Predictions
Only fighter in UFC history to record finishes via:🔹 Leg kicks 🔹 Body kicks 🔹 AND head kick @EdsonBarbozaJR #UFCPhiladelphia pic.twitter.com/qAtlu0Mxnt — UFC (@ufc) 27 de marzo de 2019
- When: Prelims start Saturday, 3:30 PM ET
- Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
- Live Stream: ESPN+
Edson Barboza (20-6) vs Justin Gaethje (19-2)
Barboza is -135 for the lightweight main event with Gaethje at +115. Fresh from an 87-second knockout of James Vick that earned him his fifth post-fight bonus, Gaethje will attempt to defuse the punishing attack of Brazil’s Barboza, who is coming off a knockout of his own over Dan Hooker in December.
In that win, Barboza became the ninth fighter to reach 20 UFC lightweight appearances, the most of any weight class in the company. Barboza’s 14 victories in UFC lightweight competition are fourth most in divisional history behind Jim Miller (17), Gleison Tibau (16), Donald Cerrone (15) and tied with Rafael dos Anjos (14) and Joe Lauzon (14).
Barboza’s seven knockout victories in UFC lightweight competition are tied for most in divisional history behind Melvin Guillard (seven). Barboza’s 10 knockdowns landed in UFC lightweight competition are second most in divisional history behind Guillard (13).
Barboza’s four knockout victories stemming from kicks in UFC competition are tied for second most in company history behind Cerrone (six). Barboza is the only fighter in UFC history to earn two knockout victories stemming from leg kicks. He used them to stop Rafaello Oliveira at UFC 162 and Mike Lullo at UFC 123.
Gaethje is a former WSOF lightweight champion. He had suffered consecutive losses after starting his career on an 18-fight winning streak before beating Vick by first-round knockout. Gaethje has earned 17 of his 17 career victories by stoppage. He’s finished 17 of those wins by knockout.
Gaethje is the only fighter in UFC history to land 100 or more significant strikes in each of his first three UFC fights. Gaethje and Eddie Alvarez combined for 277 significant strikes landed at UFC 218, the fourth-highest single-fight total in UFC lightweight history.
Barboza and Gaethje are both known for their devastating knockout capabilities, but the Brazilian believes he has more tools. Gaethje’s hands and leg kicks have led to the majority of his finishes. But Barboza is the only fighter in UFC history to have stoppages stemming from a head kick, body punch, body kick, leg kicks, and a flying knee. For that reason, Barboza thinks he holds the advantage standing up.
Definitely (my striking is better),” Barboza said. “I have knockout with a punch, with a body kick, low kick, head kick, spinning back kick, knees – on paper I’m definitely the most dangerous striker in the UFC.”
David Branch (22-5) vs Jack Hermansson (18-4)
Hermansson is -125 for this middleweight bout and Branch +105. A former two-division champion in World Series of Fighting, Branch is 2-2 during his second UFC stint. Most recently, Branch suffered a second-round TKO loss against Jared Cannonier at UFC 230.
Cannonier came out of his corner for the second round aggressive, Branch with a straight right hand after shucking off a takedown attempt, sending him crashing to the canvas. Cannonier immediately followed Branch to the floor, dropping a barrage of fists and elbows as Branch rolled to try and avoid the shots. Branch was able to get on all fours, but Cannonier was plugging his earhole with strikes until the referee stepped in and stopped the assault.
Hermansson tries to build on back-to-back stoppage wins in 2018. At UFC 224, he knocked out Thales Leites in Brazil. Then in December at UFC on FOX 31, he submitted Gerald Meerschaert in Milwaukee, which was the Swede’s first fight in the USA in nearly five years. Four of his five UFC wins have been finishes.
Josh Emmett (13-2) vs Michael Johnson (20-13)
Featherweight bout, with Johnson at -115 and Emmett at -105. Emmett tries to rebound from a second-round TKO loss to Jeremy Stephens in the UFC on FOX 28 main event. Ultimately, the finish resulted in emergency surgery to repair facial fractures that were impinging a muscle in his eye.
That kept Emmett out the rest of 2018. Prior to that, he had a two-fight winning streak in his return to featherweight with victories over Felipe Arantes and former title challenger Ricardo Lamas.
Johnson has back-to-back victories over Andre Fili and Artem Lobov after struggling through a stretch that saw him lose five of six fights – including three straight by stoppage to current lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, former WSOF champ Justin Gaethje, and Darren Elkins.
Expert UFC on ESPN 2 Picks
Bet Barboza, Hermansson and Johnson.