Saturday, October 10th
UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen
UFC Fight Island – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Edson Barboza looks to put three straight defeats behind him as he faces Makwan Amirkhani at featherweight in the co-main event this weekend. Can the Brazilian turn his fortunes around or will Amirkhani overcome the veteran and enter the 145lbs rankings?
Edson Barboza (20-9) is a former lightweight champion in the Renaissance MMA and Ring of Combat promotions, and joined the UFC in 2010 with a perfect 6-0 record. Competing at lightweight until last year, the Brazilian made his featherweight debut earlier this year and holds a UFC record of 14-9.
Barboza made a huge impact in his early UFC fights – he won his first four with three being deemed the Fight of the Night (FOTN) and was awarded the Knockout of the Night for a spinning wheel kick KO of Terry Etim at UFC 142. Barboza has experience against championship quality opponents; he beat former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision at UFC 197 but was completely dominated by current lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov as he lost by unanimous decision at UFC 219, with Nurmagomedov going on to claim the belt in his next fight.
Barboza’s last fight was his featherweight debut against Dan Ige in May in which he lost a split decision, his second in a row, meaning he has now lost three fights in succession and five of his last six. However, “Junior” Barboza has seven KO/TKO victories and seven decision wins in the UFC and is the only fighter in UFC history to claim finishes due to leg kicks, body kicks, and head kicks.
With a background in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, Barboza will want to keep the fight against Amirkhani standing and showcase his striking, particularly with kicks, in search of a knockout. A fourth consecutive loss is unthinkable for Barboza and he will be desperate to finish his opponent and not leave his fate in the hands of the judges.
Makwan Amirkhani (16-4) made his UFC debut in 2015 and has amassed a record of 6-2 in the promotion. His wins include four finishes, three in the first round and three by submission, although his most spectacular was a flying knee TKO of Andy Ogle in just eight seconds on his UFC debut which earned him a Performance of the Night (POTN) bonus.
Amirkhani’s most recent fight also took place on Fight Island at UFC 251, where “Mr. Finland” again showcased his submission skills by finishing Danny Henry with a first round anaconda choke. Amirkhani has trained in wrestling since the age of four and has focused particularly on submission wrestling, evidenced by his eleven professional submission victories, ten of which came in round one.
The Finnish fighter will have a three inch reach disadvantage against Barboza so will need to be clever in trying to close the distance, as he will be aware that his opponent’s striking is his most dangerous weapon. I expect Amirkhani to try and take the fight to the ground and look for another submission finish that could see him enter the featherweight rankings.
Prediction: Amirkhani by submission in the FOTN.
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