Big Fight: Barboza vs Gaethje Preview
With nine Fight of the Night honors between them, Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje are heading up a strong main event for UFC on ESPN 2.
Nitrogen Sports Blog takes a peek and previews this event’s headliner along with a breakdown of two other intriguing bouts on the main card.
Edson Barboza (20-6) is ranked No. 6 in the UFC lightweight division, and he’s one of the fiercest kickboxers in the world.
He regularly devastates opponents with a powerful range of strikes, kicks and knees, and Justin Gaethje is well aware of what he’s signed up for. In a fight with Barboza, there’s always a chance that you won’t wake up the same afterwards.
Justin Gaethje (19-2) is ready for Barboza following his success against James Vick at UFC Fight Night 135. Gaethje landed a massive punch to win by KO in the first round, giving the former undefeated WSOF champ’s confidence a huge boost after suffering two close defeats since joining the organization. Like Barboza, Gaethje is a dangerous stand-up war machine with 16 of his wins coming by way of knockouts.
Gaethje immediately called out Barboza upon joining the UFC, though, he had to wait for a bit before getting his wish.
“When I sat down and knew I was going to go to the UFC, I thought of Edson Barboza and I almost had a panic attack, and then right away I called my manager Ali Abdel-Aziz, Gaethje told Josh Rosenbatt of Vice Sports back in 2017. I said, ‘Ali, that’s the fight I want.’ I think it’s the worst fight in the lightweight division for me, the scariest.”
David Branch vs Jack Hermansson
David Branch (22-5) is a former two-division WSOF champion. He held the light heavyweight and middleweight titles before leaving for the UFC in 2017. Despite coming up short against Jared Cannonier in November 2018, he’ll be aiming to halt the slide against Jack Hermansson.
Branch is at his best when he’s bringing the fight to the ground. He has seven submission wins. His cardio appears to be an advantage for Branch, with nine of his 22 fights going the distance.
Hermansson (18-4), on the other hand, registered back-to-back wins in 2018, seeing off Thales Leites and Gerald Meerschaert by KO and submission respectively. A win over Branch would see him climb the middleweight rankings. Four of his last five UFC wins have gone to the scorecards, so he is also capable of hanging with Branch if their bout turns into a marathon.
Hermansson is potent in both striking and grappling. He has 11 knockout wins and four through submissions.
Josh Emmett vs Michael Johnson
Josh Emmett (13-2) is the 10th ranked featherweight in the UFC. He’s hoping to get back to winning ways following a KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018.
Michael Johnson (19-13) is an experienced pro and one of the few men to beat Tony Ferguson in the octagon. He recently recovered from a three-fight skid to claim back-to-back decision victories over Andre Fill and Artem Lobov.
When it comes to combat sports, UFC still reigns supreme despite the proliferation of other MMA outfits across the globe. That non-major UFC events such as this coming weekend’s UFC on ESPN 2 continues to get tons of attention is a testament to the organization’s popularity.
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