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wandshogun09

UFC on ESPN: Barboza vs Gaethje - Mar 30 🇺🇸

Who wins and how?   

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On Saturday 30th March, the Octagon returns to Philadelphia for the first time since 2011. 

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ESPN MAIN CARD
Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje 

David Branch vs Jack Hermansson 

Michael Johnson vs Josh Emmett

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson 

Paul Craig vs Kennedy Nzechukwu

Sheymon Moraes vs Sodiq Yusuff

 

ESPN PRELIMS
Alexa Grasso vs Marina Rodriguez 

Ross Pearson vs Desmond Green

Kevin Aguilar vs Enrique Barzola

Kevin Holland vs Gerald Meerschaert

 

ESPN+ PRELIMS
Ray Borg vs Kyler Phillips 

Maryna Moroz vs Sabina Mazo

Alex Perez vs Mark De La Rosa  

 

Liking that. The main event is pure fireworks and there’s a steady flow of decent quality throughout the rest of the card. 

 

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Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje is where it’s at. It’s ***WAND’S ONE TO WATCH*** here despite me usually trying to highlight something from the undercard that might go overlooked. This is the one though on this card. If it was just this fight with no prelims at all I’d be just as excited. Maybe the two most devastating leg kickers in the game today. To be honest, I’d be quite content to just watch these two solely throw leg kicks until one of them buckles. Settle it that way. This is either going to be a hell of a fight or a quick finish. Either way it’s going to be must-see. Barboza snapped a horrible two fight losing streak in his last outing, and got back to winning ways by battering a surging Dan Hooker to a third round TKO. It was exactly what he needed coming off the beatdowns he suffered against Khabib and Kevin Lee. And Gaethje is in a similar boat. He lost to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier in back-to-back FOTY contenders but got back in the win column with a first round KO against James Vick in August. So this is coming at a good time for both really. Both men will be coming in confident and with a little bit of momentum behind them. 

Barboza vs Gaethje promo;

Can’t wait for this one. It’s came around quick as well. Only a few weeks away now. 

 

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David Branch vs Jack Hermansson could be good. Branch needs to start putting some wins together now. After an impressive streak outside the UFC, he’s gone 2-2 since returning to the big show. Things looked to be clicking for him when he stopped Thiago Santos last April. But then in November he got TKO’d by late replacement Jared Cannonier in a bit of a shocker. When you consider that Cannonier is now booked against Anderson Silva, that could’ve been Branch’s big break against a huge name at the tail end of his career. An opportunity lost. So he’ll be wanting to make a statement here. Sweden’s Hermansson is no joke, despite the ‘Joker’ nickname. 18-4 record with some good wins including stoppages over Thales Leites and Gerald Meerschaert in his last two. It’s a fight I think Branch should win but you never know. 

 

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Michael Johnson vs Josh Emmett...man, how Michael Johnson has plummeted. It doesn’t seem that long ago since he knocked out Dustin Poirier in a round does it? Now look where they both are. Poirier is headlining the next PPV in an interim title fight and Johnson...well he’s the second curtain jerk prelim. Those 3 consecutive losses to Khabib, Gaethje and Elkins really did a number on him. To be honest, I think he hasn’t really been right since that war with Gaethje. He’s actually won his last 2 fights but didn’t look at all impressive in either one. And they were against Andre Fili and Artem Bastard Lobov. Guys I think he’d have wrecked a couple of years previously. At just 32, he just looks a bit weathered. Emmett will likely be best remembered for his big KO over Ricardo Lamas not too long back. He got smashed by Jeremy Stephens in his next fight and hasn’t fought for a solid year now. Bit of a nothing happening matchup really. 

 

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Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson would’ve probably been my one to watch from the undercard actually. Love this fight. Pretty evenly matched and I think their styles will match up well. Kowalkiewicz is 12-3, a good fighter, technical striking. Her career highlight so far is her win over current strawweight champion Rose Namajunas back in 2016. Unfortunately she’s had a rough go of it since then, going 2-3. Her losses have been to top fighters like Joanna Jedrzedjcyk, Claudia Gadelha and Jessica Andrade but it’s been a bumpy ride. The Andrade loss in her last fight was particularly brutal, Andrade knocked her out with a bomb in about 2 minutes. So Kowalkiewicz is trying to rebound from that here. Waterson has been around the sport forever. Since before women’s MMA was really a thing. She’s 16-6 now, former Invicta atomweight champ, beat Felice Herrig and Cortney Casey in her last 2 fights and submitted Paige VanZant. Good fight. I think the striking could be about 50/50, Kowalkiewicz is probably slightly bigger but I’d give Waterson the grappling advantage. 

 

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Paul Craig vs Kennedy Nzechukwu is a bit of a mystery fight to me. I don’t know what to make of Paul Craig. He came into the UFC unbeaten and looking promising. He won his first 9 MMA fights, with 9 finishes, and looked like someone we should be throwing into that mix of new blood 205ers we’ve been on about recently. Since then he’s had a bit of a nightmare. He’s gone 1-3 in his last 4 (so he’s 10-3 now, for those keeping score) and even the win, he was losing literally until the last second when he miraculously tapped Magomed Ankalaev with a triangle choke at 4:59 of the fucking third! He then got subbed by Jim Crute in his last fight. Kennedy Nzechukwu (seriously, fuck off with that spelling) is 26 years old, unbeaten at 6-0 with 4 TKOs and was on Dana’s Contender thing. 

 

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Sheymon Moraes vs Sodiq Yusuff could well be a sleeper. I think Moraes is a bit better than he’s given credit for. He’s 11-2 but the two losses were to Zabit Magomedsharipov and Marlon Moraes (no relation). Aside from that he’s won his last couple of UFC fights and has a WSOF win over Luis Palomino, who went to war with Gaethje twice in that promotion. Yusuff is 8-1 out of Lloyd Irvin’s gym. He was on Dana’s Contender Series and won his UFC debut on the Adelaide show in December via first round TKO. 

 

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Alexa Grasso vs Marina Rodriguez was originally supposed to go down in February but Rodriguez pulled out with an injury. And here we are. Grasso was considered a real standout prospect at one point but the hype cooled off massively when she lost to Felice Herrig in 2017. She rallied back with a win over Randa Markos in a really fun fight but then got steamrolled by Tatiana ‘the female Khabib’ Suarez in May last year. She’s 10-2 now and still only 25 years old. She still has a lot of potential. But she can’t afford another setback here. And Rodriguez could be a tough rebound fight. She’s undefeated at 10-0-1, the only blemish being a draw against Randa Markos last time out, and 6 finishes. 

 

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Ross Pearson vs Desmond Green is just kind of there. Shame Pearson is floundering. He’s always seemed proper sound and had a lot of potential coming off winning that UK vs USA season of TUF. But that was 10 years ago now and he hasn’t really evolved with the times. He’s still pretty much the same fighter he was back in 2009. He’s really in a slump as well. Looking at his record just now, he’s 3-7 in his last 10! Green has lost 3 of his last 4 himself but he doesn’t feel anywhere near as far gone as Pearson when you watch him. Could actually be a ‘loser leaves’ situation here. 

 

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Kevin Aguilar vs Enrique Barzola is a fight that I actually think deserved higher billing than this. Just based off Aguilar’s forgotten gem of a fight with Rick Glenn on the Usman-RDA undercard in November I’d have rewarded Aguilar with a main card spot here. Seriously, if you didn’t catch Aguilar vs Glenn you should fix that. Aguilar looks decent beyond that as well. He’s 16-1 with 11 finishes. And Barzola is a similar kind of fighter. A scrappy Peruvian fighting out of ATT with a 15-3-1 record. He’s won his last 4 fights and he’s never been stopped. 

 

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Maryna Moroz vs Sabina Mazo might be worth a look. Moroz is one of those fighters that has a misleading record IMO. She’s 8-3 and has lost her last 2 but when I watch her I always think she should be doing better than she is. Sadly, she seemed to peak in her UFC debut where she submitted Joanne Calderwood in a round then called out Joanna Jedrzedjcyk. She’s had very mixed results since then. She’s moving up to flyweight here though so maybe that’ll make a difference for her as we’ve seen with Calderwood and Jessica Eye recently. Sabina Mazo is making her UFC debut here. She’s only 21 years old, Colombian, trains at Kings MMA and is undefeated at 6-0. 

 

Not crazy stacked or anything but a really strong main event and some good stuff sprinkled throughout the undercard. 

Edited by wandshogun09

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