The UFC just keeps on rolling with the second event in three nights in Vegas. Alongside the TUF Finale we have two fights that wouldn’t be out of place in the MGM Grand on Saturday night.
Barboza v Ferguson:
Edson Barboza is the late notice call to replace Khabib Nurmagomedov on this card. Fighting for the third time in 2015 he will look to end it better than he started. A loss to Michael Johnson was countered by a Fight of the Night winning performance against Paul Felder and with that the Brazilian kickboxer was relevant again.
After an n extensive injury layoff it would be hard to find a fighter in better form than TUF:13 winner Tony Ferguson. After going 3-0 he ran into an immovable Michael Johnson in a performance that culminated in the aforementioned layoff, all 16 months of it. Since returning in October 2013 Ferguson has gone 6-0 and finds himself on the cusp of the top five and in a real position to challenge for the belt. Three of those six have come by way of submission showing that Ferguson is truly a man to be feared off his back.
Barboza will look to utilise the kicks for which he has become synonymous to keep Ferguson at range, whereas Ferguson will look to get Barboza to the ground and utilise his superior wrestling and BJJ. This fight really can end anywhere, off the back, off the feet or on the scorecards and that’s where I am leaning towards. Ferguson has been hugely impressive in his return and in Barboza there is a potential champion in there somewhere, once he accepts that getting hit is part and parcel of his job. Lean is for Ferguson by late submission but I’m hoping that the fight goes over the two and a half round stage to get there.
Recommendation: Over 2.5 Rounds – 2 units at -115 (9/10) @ 5Dimes
Edgar v Mendes:
Chad Mendes looks to put behind him the disappointment of a third failed title shot. With the interim title loss to Conor McGregor he has experienced all of his career defeats when facing off for the belt, the two previous both coming to Jose Aldo. With the McGregor fight Mendes entered the octagon off the back of a two week training camp when stepping up as a late replacement. Given how badly this cardo machine flagged after five minutes it was clear that he was nowhere near fight ready. For this fight, arguably another eliminator, he has the benefit of a full camp.
Frankie Edgar is one of the most impressive, yet underrated and understated fighters in the UFC today. From the moment he picked apart BJ Penn to take the belt it was hailed as a fluke and he’d get found out next time. Same story against Gray Maynard, same result. It was only when running into Benson Henderson did the rot set in and his luck ran out, losing back to back decisions, the last of which was contentious in its own right. A step up to Featherweight and an immediate title shot with Jose Aldo awaited, but alas it was not to be. Since then he has gone 4-0 and with a win will face the winner of the main event at UFC 194.
This is cardio machine vs cardio machine in a bout that would not look out of place on the big show on Saturday night. Frankie Edgar’s ability to go the distance is legendary and is someone who traditionally improves as his opponent weakens. Mendes doesn’t normally gas and possesses the striking to knock anyone down. The trouble he’ll have though is keeping him down long enough to secure the win. This one goes to Frankie, but who does he face next?
Recommendation: Frankie Edgar – 3 units at -165 (3/5) @ 5Dimes