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UFC on ESPN 2 main event breakdown: Can Justin Gaethje outslug Edson Barboza?

MMAjunkie Radio co-host and MMAjunkie contributor Dan Tom breaks down the UFC’s top bouts. Today, we look at the main event for UFC on ESPN 2.

UFC on ESPN 2 takes place Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The event airs on ESPN following early prelims on ESPN+.

Edson Barboza (20-6 MMA, 14-6 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 33 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 75″
  • Last fight: KO win over Dan Hooker (Dec. 15, 2018)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai
  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Multiple muay Thai accolades
^ Record of 25-3 (22 by KO)
+ 12 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Good feints and footwork
+ Improved boxing technique
^ Jabs, pivots, check-hooks, etc.
+ Devastating leg kicks
+ Accurate spinning attacks
+ Underrated counter wrestling
+ Solid butterfly guard
^ Good getup urgency

Justin Gaethje (19-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs. Reach: 71″
  • Last fight: KO win over James Vick(Aug. 25, 2018)
  • Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, Co.)
  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/kickboxing
  • Risk management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ WSOF lightweight title
+ NCAA Division 1 All-American wrestler
+ 16 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 7 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Aggressive pace and pressure
+ Heavy hooks, uppercuts and overhands
+ Hard leg kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Good hips and dirty boxing
+ Strikes well off the break
+ Excellent wrestling and scrambling ability
+/- Propensity to brawl

Point of interest: King of the leg kicks

The main event in Philadelphia features a pairing of two devastating strikers who may both stand alone in regards to their ability to do damage to their opponent’s lower extremities.

Storming onto the UFC scene with thunderous leg kicks, Edson Barboza became renowned for his initial impressions of violence that reminded fans why they shouldn’t step inside the octagon. After a few years of mixed success, Barboza made his way up to New Jersey to train with Mark Henry, a coach who quietly helped him improve his footwork and fundamentals within the boxing realm.

From hitting pivots to stepping off to the appropriate sides, the Brazilian has done a much better job of facilitating his punches and overall offense. Barboza has always possessed an underrated counter right-hand but has since developed his left hand under said upgrades.

Throwing his jab with much more efficiency, it is the improvements of Barboza’s check-hook that may serve him particularly well in this fight. Utilizing the check-hook to punch out of exchanges or catch opponents coming in, I suspect it may come in handy against the engagements of a borderline marauding madman.

Enter Justin Gaethje.

A man who may own the most violent and financially fruitful four-fight start in UFC history, Gaethje has also developed a habit of using leg assaults to add to the drama of his contests.

A relentless forward mover, Gaethje embodies the phrase “a bull in a china shop” with his unabashed aggression and hardwiring to inflict damage. Doing his best work when on the attack, Gaethje will gain his opponent’s respect with hard hooks and crosses, looking to punctuate his presence with crushing uppercuts and leg kicks when appropriate.

Like a Spartan to his shield in a phalanx, Gaethje relies heavily upon his double-forearm guard, planting and looking to counter with immediacy.

However, outside of his shelling defense, the 30-year-old has admittedly shown little regard for what comes back at him in the past, something that is reflected by his statistics in the strikes absorbed department. Given Gaethje’s opposition at hand (coupled with the results of previous UFC outings), I will be curious to see if any adjustments are applied this time out.

Next point of interest: Pressure pit

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