UFC Vegas 35: Barboza vs Chikadze Predictions (Reposted)

Tonight we will not only get a fun main event between high level featherweights, but also two bouts determining the winners of The Ultimate Fighter. Winners will be crowned at bantamweight and middleweight to close out the season 29 TUF tournament.

The write-up here will provide consideration for building lineups on both FanDuel and DraftKings. It details my betting strategy for each fight and a prediction of what kind of bout we see.

When building your lineups here are a few things to consider. Pricing differs for most fighters making some better value on one site over the other. Scoring is important as well. On FanDuel a first-round finish scores 5x the points as a decision, where on DraftKings it scores 3x as many. Grappling is also scored drastically different as FanDuel awards points for takedown defense and submission attempts. DraftKings neglects those two stats and instead values control time and reversals. This new year, DraftKings has also added a quick win bonus for victories in the first minute as well as scoring for non-significant strikes. Lastly, you will only want to take two fighters from the same fight if you think it goes into the late rounds and expect both to reach value. Optimal GPP builds very rarely stack the same fight but it can be a viable strategy in cash games.

Lastly, if you are in search of even more DFS content be sure to visit DailyPlayAction.com! This site is dedicated to providing expert daily fantasy coaching as well as tools to optimize your NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and PGA lineups. Check them out now if you play any FanDuel or DraftKings DFS.

Current Record

  • Anthony: 182-137-3 (Last Year 223-145-6)
  • Nick: 182-137-3 (Last Year 235-133-6)
  • GB: 174-145-3 (Last Year 216-152-6)

Fight odds are as listed from Bovada and last updated 10:00 AM EST 8-28-2021

Preliminary Card- Starts 7:00pm EST

Mana Martinez -285 (DK $9000, FD $20) vs Guido Cannetti +225 (DK $7200, FD $10)

  • Anthony: The card opens with a fun bantamweight scrap between Mana Martinez and Guido Cannetti. It has been a tough career for the 41-year-old Cannetti who is just 8-7 as a professional. His last win came in 2018 while his most recent finish was all the way back in 2013. Cannetti is being fed to a third straight prospect here, this time in the form of 5’10 Mana Martinez. The Houston based fighter punched his ticket to the UFC with a first minute KO on the most recent episode of Dana White’s Lookin’ for a Fight. He has excellent striking which is no surprise given he is a primary training partner of Adrian Yanez. He missed weight by four pounds yesterday but this fight came together on relatively short notice after multiple cancellations, he has a good excuse. Martinez also aims to honor his late coach Saul Soliz in this fight after his tragic passing early last week. While he may be fighting with a heavy heart, I expect him to outclass Cannetti quite easily here. The likelihood of a finish is high and Martinez is one of my favorite plays on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Mana Martinez by Round One KO
  • Nick: Mana Martinez will be making his UFC debut here, following an impressive KO victory over Jose Johnson for Fury FC in Houston with Dana White in attendance. Martinez is a highly technical striker with explosive movement and surprising power for a bantamweight. All eight of his professional wins have come by KO. Guido Cannetti is a UFC vet, but he’s far past his prime. There’s a decent chance he’s released from the roster if he can’t pull off the win here. He’s 41-years old and one of the oldest in this division. If Cannetti can make this an ugly boring fight, he might have a chance here. However, I feel like Martinez’s youth and athleticism is going to be tough to overcome. Additionally, Martinez missed weight by four pounds for this fight and he looked massive compared to Cannetti at face-offs. The line is definitely a bit too wide given Cannetti’s dramatic advantage in experience. Still, it feels like the UFC is looking to boost Martinez’s stock here. Mana Martinez by Round One KO
  • GB: Mana Martinez by Round Two KO

Jamall Emmers -155 (DK $8300, FD $17) vs Pat Sabatini +125 (DK $7900, FD $14)

  • Anthony: Next we have a very fun featherweight scrap between Jamall Emmers and Pat Sabatini. Both of these prospects have rather high ceilings and are continuing to develop each time they step into the cage. I really think the striking of Emmers gets him the nod in this matchup as these two are going to be pretty evenly matched when attempting to grapple. Sabatini is the more slick jiu jitsu practitioner and does more with positions on the mat, but Emmers has a solid wrestling base in his own right. If Emmers decides to shoot for takedowns in this fight I could see him controlling top position as well. He is the bigger fighter and that reach likely allows Emmers to pour it on Sabatini in the stand up. Both have solid resumes but Emmers’ really shines, his three most recent losses came to Giga Chikadze, Julian Erosa and Thiago Moises. He has also shown an ability to fight through adversity and finish strong, whereas Sabatini often struggles when seeing a round three. It is a close one to call but I am going to side with small favorite. Jamall Emmers by Decision
  • Nick: This is the first time we’ve seen Jamall Emmers in the cage since August of 2020. He’s been working through multiple injuries at the UFC PI, but he’s coming off a solid win over Vince Cachero. More impressive than that win was actually his loss in the fight before that to card headliner Giga Chikadze. While he was ultimately outclassed in that spot, he fought an extremely hard fight and was even scored as a winner on one of the judges’ scorecards. Emmers is a rangy striker with surprising power for his frame. He’s decent on the feet, but he seems most comfortable peppering his opponents with strikes at range. Pat Sabatini is a well-rounded prospect coming off a solid decision win in his debut over Tristan Connelly. The one knock on him in that fight was that his cardio started to fade, which allowed Connelly to take the third round. Emmers should have the striking advantage here, but Sabatini is going to have a more significant grappling advantage. The key to this match-up for Emmers will be keeping this fight on the feet. He has perfect takedown defense in the UFC, but he’s never faced a wrestler as effective as Sabatini. This is one of the closer fights on the card and a tough one to call. However, I’m siding with the grappling advantage and the value on the underdog. Pat Sabatini by Decision
  • GB: Pat Sabatini by Decision

JJ Aldrich -425 (DK $9100, FD $21) vs Vanessa Demopoulos +315 (DK $7100, FD $9)

  • Anthony: Here we have a women’s flyweight bout between Vanessa Demopoulos and JJ Aldrich. Demopoulos makes her UFC debut here, moving up a weight class for this rather short notice call. She has very good jiu jitsu but is underdeveloped in the striking and outsized quite a bit here. While she is obviously hoping to take this fight to the mat, I do not see Demopoulos being on top of any grappling exchanges that take place. Aldrich is rather active and I expect her to largely control this bout from start to finish. She is faster and a more reliable striker than Demopoulos and as this fight wears on things are only going to get easier for her. The extra ten pounds could help Demopoulos in the cardio department, but it could also very well weigh her down more so than usual. There is no value on this fight at the current line but I do see Aldrich getting her hand raised here. JJ Aldrich by Decision
  • Nick: Vanessa Demopoulos will be making her UFC debut here as a former LFA Strawweight Champion. She’s running into a difficult out against JJ Aldrich, a UFC vet who is coming off a decision win over Cortney Casey. The line does feel a bit too wide here, but Demopoulos is moving up a weight class. Aldrich should have a significant size and strength advantage in this spot. Demopoulos is a BJJ blackbelt and she will likely have the advantage if this fight hits the mat. That being said I expect she has trouble getting it there. I expect Aldrich to keep this fight on the feet for however long she needs to pull off the victory. It wouldn’t entirely shock me if Demopoulos pulled off a long shot upset via submission. Still, Aldrich is very clearly the rightful favorite here for a reason. JJ Aldrich by Decision
  • GB: JJ Aldrich by Decision

Dustin Jacoby -190 (DK $8800, FD $19) vs Darren Stewart +155 (DK $7400, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The card continues with this fight at light heavyweight between Dustin Jacoby and Darren Stewart. Neither one of these fighters really shined in their most recent bouts, but Jacoby at least put together a spirited performance. He was controlled and taken down a total of eight times by Ion Cutelaba in the first round, but fought back to a split draw decision. He has exceptional kickboxing and great speed for this weight class which will likely give Stewart some problems. Usually I worry about Jacoby being undersized at 205, but Stewart is not a true light heavyweight either. Jacoby was the bigger man at faceoffs and I believe he wins this fight rather easily by simply staying at range. Stewart has the potential to successfully wrestle in this bout but his grappling is not intimidating enough to warrant much pause. Jacoby is the clear pick in my opinion but this is a low level fight and I am not supremely confident. Dustin Jacoby by Decision
  • Nick: This is a fairly low-level matchup between at light heavyweight. Darren Stewart was mostly dominated his last time out against Eryk Anders. Anders leveraged a considerable strength and power advantage in that spot. Stewart is physically gifted, but his Fight IQ seems to be deteriorating. He’s a powerful striker with KO power, but he seems to struggle against opponents that can match him in strength. Jacoby is a highly technical kickboxer coming off a hard-fought draw to Ion Cutelaba. He gave a good account of himself in that fight against a guy many feel could hold a ranking in this division. Stewart has spent most of his career at 185, so he’s going to be small as a light heavyweight and he was visibly much smaller than Jacoby at faceoffs. Jacoby showed effective takedown defense in his win over Maxin Grishin, a fighter who has spent time at heavyweight. I have trouble expecting a much smaller Stewart to find success grappling here against Jacoby. This fight should stay standing, which should play right into Jacoby’s strengths. If Stewart can make this a boring fight he has a chance to pull off the upset. However, I expect Jacoby to leverage his superior striking to get it done here. Dustin Jacoby by Round Two KO
  • GB: Dustin Jacoby by Decision

Wellington Turman -125 (DK $8400, FD $16) vs Sam Alvey +105 (DK $7800, FD $15)

  • Anthony: There is not a ton to like in this bout between Wellington Turman and Sam Alvey at middleweight. The veteran Sam Alvey has been in the octagon quite often lately with little to no success. He enters on an 0-5-1 skid. Three of those bouts were close decisions but the other half saw Alvey finished rather easily. He at least has a decent size advantage over Turman here, who has also been finished now in two consecutive bouts. I lost money on Turman in both those fights and refuse to do so again here. The under 2.5 rounds is a very solid look, but with a gun to my head I’d pick Alvey to get his hand raised. It is absolutely the hardest fight to pick on the card. Sam Alvey by Round One KO
  • Nick: In many ways it feels like the loser of this matchup will be cut from the roster. Turman is a decent grappler, but he hasn’t really exhibited much of a Fight IQ. His durability is questionable at best and we haven’t really seen his cardio hold up at this level. He has some power on the feet, but he telegraphs his strikes and defensively he struggles at times as he leaves himself open to counter shots. Sam Alvey is a tough and savvy veteran, but he looks slow in most exchanges both grappling and on the feet. He can still clear out the lower-level fighters in this division, but more often than not he seems to be losing to younger and more athletic fighters. This should be a close match-up and I don’t expect either fighter to score all that well for DFS. However, I prefer the value on Alvey here. He could get taken down early, but his experience and superior cardio should eventually win out. He has the better chin and while he’s slow at this point in his career – Turman doesn’t move like he’s 10-years younger. This is a low confidence pick, but I’m siding with the experience advantage of the underdog. Sam Alvey by Decision
  • GB: Sam Alvey by Round Two KO

Alessio Di Chirico -240 (DK $8900, FD $19) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan +190 (DK $7300, FD $11)

  • Anthony: The featured prelim is a middleweight scrap between Alessio Di Chirico and Abdul Razak Alhassan. Di Chirico got back in the win column in his most recent outing, knocking out promotional darling Joaquin Buckley with a head kick of his own. Razak Alhassan will be desperate to break his own three fight skid here, but his career is trending in the wrong direction. Very similar to Turman stated above, Alhassan has cost me money in three straight fights. He had a two year layoff due to sexual assault allegations and has not looked the same ever since. It is time to stop backing a guy getting dominated so badly. Di Chirico is nothing special himself but I like the offensive striking he possesses. Touching Alhassan and working largely at range will play to his benefit here. The 1-3 record entering this bout sure isn’t sexy, but Di Chirico still holds the more impressive resume overall. Losses to Kevin Holland and Makmud Muradov are not the end of the world. He feels like the rightful favorite here but there is little to no value on him at this line. And while I am fading Alhassan, his DFS price tag is low considering he likely needs a finish in order to win. Alessio Di Chirico by Decision
  • Nick: Alessio Di Chirico has shown willing to stand and strike, but he often leaves himself open to counter-shots. In spite of this he’s shown solid durability as he’s never been KO’d professionally. Alhassan was a highly regarded prospect, but he’s been on a major skid. He usually comes out strong and hunts for that early knockout, but Alhassan has shown a lack of cardio in many of his recent fights. He made the move the Elevation Fight Team, which should help correct that flaw but it’s tough to expect he made dramatic improvements across just one training camp. Di Chirico is coming off a huge upset win with his back against the wall against Joaquin Buckley. He has no real standout skill, but time and time again he’s shown he has a strong chin and admirable durability. It wouldn’t surprise me if Alhassan found that KO for an upset, but I expect Di Chirico to weather an early storm and then grind out a win. Alessio Di Chirico by Decision
  • GB: Alessio Di Chirico by Decision

Main Card- Starts 10:00pm EST

Makhmud Muradov -700 (DK $9300, FD $23) vs Gerald Meerschaert +450 (DK $6900, FD $8)

  • Anthony: The main card opens at middleweight as Gerald Meerschaert takes on Makmud Muradov. If you have yet to see Muradov fight in the UFC this is certainly a bout you want to tune in to. The Uzbekistani fighter is entering on a 14-fight win streak which includes third round knockouts in his two most recent scraps. His boxing dominates opponents in this weight class. Muradov really gets into a great boxing rhythm as the fight wears on as his natural power starts to break down opponent defenses. He is adjusting to the sport of MMA very well and I see him continuing to climb the ranking here for quite a while. The UFC seems to be feeding him a gatekeeper in Meerschaert that I fully expect him to finish. While Meerschaert is always a threat in the cage with his grappling, I see a stronger Muradov boxing his ears in here. Seeing him knocked out quickly by Khamzat Chimaev and Ian Heinisch makes me confident that Muradov’s power will hurt him here. I see an early finish materializing unless Meerschaert can make this a pure grappling bout. Makhmud Muradov by Round One KO
  • Nick: Meerschaert is well-rounded, but most of his professional wins have come via submission. He’s a highly skilled BJJ blackbelt with a seemingly endless arsenal of attacks. As good as Meerschaert is on the mat, he has trouble getting the fight there. His takedown entries leave a lot to be desired so I expect he’ll be forced to stand and trade here. Makmud Muradov has excellent footwork, which he uses to stay out of his opponent’s striking range. He’s a highly technical boxer, a member of Floy Mayweather’s Money Team, and he’s going to be the more powerful and accurate fighter here. The longer this fight stays on the feet the better I think things go for Muradov. He comes in with a 100 percent takedown defense across a very small sample, but I don’t see Meershchaert as a strong enough wrestler to ground him. Meerschaert is definitely chinny, so I could see Muradov winning inside the distance. The line has gotten a bit ridiculous, but there’s no denying Muradov as the proper side. Makmud Muradov by Round Two KO
  • GB: Makmud Muradov by Round One KO

Andre Petroski -600 (DK $9200, FD $22) vs Micheal Gillmore +400 (DK $7000, FD $8)

  • Anthony: Next is yet another middleweight scrap between Andre Petroski and Michael Gillmore. These are two contestants from The Ultimate Fighter that did not make the finals, but still get an opportunity here to punch their ticket to the UFC. It is great the promotion is giving Gillmore another chance here, but I do not see how he can compete with the wrestling style of Petroski. This is a fighter the company seemed to promote heavily in the early TUF episodes. I imagine they’d like to see Petroski win here in order to put on more fights for the promotion in the future. Gillmore’s performance on the show was excusable as he stepped in on very short notice as an injury replacement. I see him keeping things competitive for a bit longer here, but ultimately Petroski should take over and find a finish. He is not often going to be the bigger man at middleweight but against Gillmore we should see Petroski really look special. Andre Petroski by Round Two Submission
  • Nick: Andre Petroski was a favorite to win this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but he fell to finalist Bryan Battle where he got caught in a submission in the first round. Petroski is a decorated collegiate level wrestler who mostly leans on his powerful grappling to overwhelm and discourage his opponents. He has shown KO power on the regional scene, but he telegraphs his strikes so in most matchups he’s best suited leaning on the grappling. Gillmore is fairly well rounded with a decent wrestling base and above average karate style striking ability. He only had a chance to fight on the show due to injury, and it feels like the UFC is using him here as a means to sign and boost Petroski’s stock. Petroski is the more powerful striker here and he’s the better wrestler as well. He’s going to come out aggressive and I do have concerns about his cardio, but I don’t expect them to be a factor in this spot as he should be able to finish Gillmore quickly. Andre Petroski by Round One Submission
  • GB: Andre Petroski by Round Two KO

Kevin Lee -145 (DK $8500, FD $16) vs Daniel Rodriguez +120 (DK $7700, FD $15)

  • Anthony: The card really heats up with this fight at welterweight between Daniel Rodriguez and Kevin Lee. It is the long anticipated debut at 170 pounds for Lee who has been absent from competition for the past 17 months. I fully expect Lee’s grappling to play a factor in this one as he has completed at least one takedown in 15 of 17 total UFC fights. While Rodriguez has a very solid 83 percent takedown defense, he has yet to face a wrestler of Lee’s caliber. I really was worried about the wrestling earlier in the week, but upon seeing D-Rod’s size advantage at faceoffs I think he keeps himself upright. He is going to be so much sharper on the feet having fought six times since Lee’s last appearance. I think Rodriguez really starts stuffing takedowns in rounds two and three, overwhelming Lee with his size and superior boxing. Lee’s cardio should look improved now at this weight class but he is known to gas quickly after strong starts. Fading Lee at this price tag is asking for trouble but I am willing to take a chance on a guy I am a fan of in D-Rod. Daniel Rodriguez by Round Three KO
  • Nick: Daniel Rodriguez has very sharp boxing, which isn’t surprising as he is currently coached by Joe Schilling. He has not really used his grappling much at the UFC level, but he holds a brown belt in BJJ. He is certainly a well-rounded fighter and has a lot of momentum coming into this matchup off convincing wins over fan favorite Mike Perry and an impressive KO victory in his last fight over newcomer Preston Parsons. This will be Kevin Lee’s welterweight debut. He found significant success as a Lightweight with wins over Gregor Gillespie, Michael Chiesa and card headliner Edson Barboza. However, he had been struggling at 155 to both make weight and carry solid cardio. Moving up a class here he hopes to be able to return to his peak form. He’s an explosive and powerful wrestle-boxer with solid defensive grappling and a powerful kicking game. He does an excellent job overwhelming his opponents with continuous pressure, and he should have a clear path to victory here if he can keep Rodriguez on his back and against the cage. If Rodriguez is going to pull out a win here, he’s going to need to keep this fight standing. He’ll have an advantage on the feet, but he hasn’t had much success against powerful wrestlers like Lee. If Rodriguez can keep this standing he could have a chance, but I expect Lee to effectively mix in his grappling on his way to a win. Kevin Lee by Decision
  • GB: Daniel Rodriguez by Round Two KO

Ricky Turcios -150 (DK $8700, FD $18) vs Brady Hiestand +125 (DK $7500, FD $12)

  • Anthony: The Ultimate Fighter at bantamweight will be decided here between Brady Heistand and Ricky Turcios. The more experienced and further developed prospect is Turcios, but Heistand has a very bright future ahead at just 22 years of age. Turcios is the far more talented striker but also has a BJJ brown belt and very active guard. He should excel at range here, but I worry about Heistand catching his kicks or bringing him to the mat with traditional takedowns early. If able to do so I think there is a legitimate chance we see Turcios controlled or submitted. Dan Argueta controlled Ricky for a decent portion of their fight and I feel like Heistand can do the same. Heistand trains out of Sikjitsu in Spokane Washington which has already produced two Ultimate Fighters, Michael Chiesa and Julianna Pena. I see Heistand as top 15 material in the future but he may be a bit overmatched here at this stage of his career. I am going to take a shot on him as an underdog anyways though. He took far less damage than Turcios in his semifinal bout. Seeing him dispose of two very experienced opponents on the show gives me confidence he can overcome the challenge here as well. Especially on FanDuel where he is just $12, I plan to get a handful of shares. Brady Heistand by Round One Submission
  • Nick: This is the Ultimate Fighter final between two intriguing up-and-comers at bantamweight. Turcios is a highly aggressive and an extremely creative striker. He’s solid in scrambles, but he finds most of his success in the middle of the cage, striking at range. Hiestand is still a developing prospect, but his wrestling is very advanced. He has explosive hips and he does a good job holding inferior opponents in postion. Hiestand will have a grappling advantage here and I expect he might be able to control position fairly well on Turcios if he can lean on that strength. That being said, Turcios has excellent BJJ. If Hiestand takes him down and he’s not careful in this spot, there’s a good chance he runs himself into a submission. Additionally, Turcios has a significant experience advantage here and I expect he’ll have ways get back to his feet fairly easy if Hiestand does ground him. This should be a fun fight for however long it lasts, but I feel Turcios has more paths to victory. Additionally, I could see Tucios’ more significant cage time being the difference here if this fight lasts into the third round. Outside of The Ultimate Fighter this season, Turcios has faced far tougher competition. Ricky Turcios by Round Three KO
  • GB: Ricky Turcios by Decision

Bryan Battle -175 (DK $8600, FD $17) vs Gilbert Urbina +145 (DK $7600, FD $13)

  • Anthony: The Ultimate Fighter at middleweight gets decided here in the co-main event as Bryan Battle takes on Gilbert Urbina. These are two fun athletes that excel in all aspects of mixed martial arts. Urbina comes from a fight family and looks to be the first of three brothers to earn a contract through the TUF tournament. His path to the finals was a bit underwhelming though as he beat short notice replacement Michael Gillmore in fight one. Urbina lost his semifinal bout to a very solid Tresean Gore, but due to an injury to Gore he gets to replace him here in the finals. He was knocked out in that fight and really had no answer when challenged by a superior striker. Battle should be able to piece up Urbina on the feet and stay slightly ahead in any wrestling or grappling exchanges. He had the much tougher road to the finals beating Kemran Lachinov and finishing Andre Petroski. I see him finding a finish here in a three round bout and getting his had raised as the new Ultimate Fighter. Bryan Battle by Round Two KO
  • Nick: Gilbert Urbina gets a chance to take on Bryan Battle in the Ultimate FIghter Middleweight final here, as he’s filling in for an injured Tresean Gore. Urbina is a decent striker who works well behind his jab. He’s capable of changing stances and while it doesn’t seem to be a strength, he’s more than competent on the feet. He has a solid wrestling base and if he does have a strength it is his positional grappling. Bryan Battle is rough around the edges, but he seems effective pretty much everywhere. He’s a powerful striker that can string together effective combinations. He’s very dangerous in the clinch and he showed in his semi-final win over Andre Petroski that he’s a talented grappler as well. Urbina has said in interviews that he hopes to fight at 170 in the future. He’s going to be significantly outsized here and I expect Battle to have a significant strength advantage as well. If Battle takes his time here, he should outclass Urbina and find himself victorious. Bryan Battle by Round Two KO
  • GB: Bryan Battle by Round Three Submission

Edson Barboza -120 (DK $8200, FD $19) vs Giga Chikadze +100 (DK $8000, FD $18)

  • Anthony: You do not want to miss the featherweight main event this evening as Edson Barboza will face Giga Chikadze. This is a super fun fight between dynamic strikers. Chikadze is a world class kickboxer that has rattled off six straight wins inside the UFC octagon. He is hyper aggressive with his hands and uses kicks just beautifully from range in order to hurt opponents. The Giga kick is his patented strike to the liver, thrown with the left leg from the southpaw stance. He has landed it numerous times to render opponents immobile, but it also sets up the kicks high and low that Chikadze so devastatingly utilizes. Barboza is already considered one of the best strikers in MMA, having true knockout power in seemingly every limb. His finish of Shane Burgos at UFC 262 was absolutely massive and it displayed just how devastating Barboza can really be at this weight class. His current win streak should certainly be longer as I very much believe he beat Dan Ige in a split decision loss last year. The prior loss to Paul Felder was also extremely close. Fading Chikadze on this streak is dangerous as I was not planning to do so until a real grappling threat got into it with him. However, Barboza seems locked in and I just trust his striking a bit more. I worry about the Giga kick or an overconfident Chikadze finding the finish early, but ultimately think Barboza leads this dance. He should use the low leg kicks more effectively to slow down Chikadze. Barboza will likely crowd Chikadze as well to take some of his best weapons away. It should be a high volume striking match from start to finish. Edson Barboza by Round Three KO
  • Nick: Barboza does a good job using kicks to keep pressure on his opponents. He was an early adopter of the ever-popular leg-kick and he uses it more effectively than anyone on the roster. Barboza has an excellent job mixing in body work and setting up his punches with his kicks. Since dropping two controversial decisions to Paul Felder and Dan Ige, Barboza is now coming off back-to-back wins over Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos. He’s one of the best strikers in the UFC, and he feels strongly that he’ll soon be challenging for a title at featherweight. Giga Chikadze is coming off six-straight UFC Wins, but this is easily the toughest test he’s seen at this level. Chikadze is an extremely high-level kickboxer with excellent range. He throws extremely powerful kicks and his countering ability is extremely advanced. As talented as Chikadze is, Barboza is going to have a power and a cardio advantage here. Barboza should have a grappling advantage here as well, but it’s extremely rare he leans on that part of his game. While I don’t expect him to take the path of least resistance here, I still feel he’s the rightful favorite. Chikadze is a talented kickboxer, but he’s never faced anything near the test that Barboza presents. This should be an extremely fun matchup for however long it lasts. Still, I feel Barboza is the rightful favorite. I expect Chikadze to look good early but start to fade to Barboza’s pressure as this fight wears on. Edson Barboza by Round Four KO
  • GB: Edson Barboza by Round Three KO

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