After some shenanigans in Brooklyn, New York recently, the UFC heads down to the coast to Atlantic City, New Jersey for this weekend’s card.
This is the last event for three weeks as the UFC takes a small breather before five consecutive cards. While there are some fun fights on the card, I’ve again opted for co main and main events to provide my picks. 5Dimes, as always, provides the odds.
Edgar v Swanson:
Frankie Edgar is a guy who just misses all the breaks. As the former champion at 155lbs he lost his title to Benson Henderson by the narrowest of margins, losing the rematch by an even narrower one. He was desperately unlucky against Jose Aldo in their first bout, although that rematch was more decisively lost. He missed out on another title shot due to injury at UFC 218 and when finally granted his overdue shot at UFC 222, Holloway was forced to withdraw. By staying on the card, he cost himself a certain title shot, one that has now gone to Brian Ortega. The end to that fight was brutal and violent, and it begs the question; just how has he been cleared to fight again, medically?
Like Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson is another fighter who just cannot catch a break. As one of the WEC originals, his legacy in MMA is complete but the lack of championship recognition will always sting in the heart. His sole title shot was in the WEC against Jose Aldo. It lasted just 8 seconds. And it remains the only title shot that Swanson is ever likely to see. Prior to the Ortega fight he was arguably only one fight away from his shot, and now he and Edgar can punch themselves out while commiserating being company men.
My lean is heavily toward Edgar in this bout, but that knockout was only 6 weeks ago. Medically, in my opinion he shouldn’t be fighting, but nobody was going to deny him the fight in his hometown. Both fighters are in the twilight of their respective careers. Mid-30’s is ancient at this weight and it may simply boil down to the man with the most miles left in the tank. Edgar by a hard slog, but I’m not massively confident and that KO plays heavy on my mind.
Recommendation: Frankie Edgar – 2 units at -235 (2/5) @ 5Dimes
Lee v Barboza:
Kevin Lee fights for the first time since losing an interim title bout against Tony Ferguson. Although he succumbed to a third-round submission it could clearly be argued that Lee was suffering from Staph Infection and shouldn’t have been cleared to fight. It snapped a five-fight streak for Lee, marking a third career defeat, all coming under the UFC banner. Many of the watching media, myself included, felt that Lee had managed to leapfrog the rest of the division purely by a beef with Ferguson on Fox Sports 1, as Ferguson took issue to Lee winning by a highly contentious submission over Michael Chiesa. Ferguson claimed that Lee wasn’t at his level, in October that was proven correct. Lee now returns to #6 in the rankings with his opponent just one higher.
Edson Barboza returns to the UFC for his first bout since losing an eliminator to Khabib Nurmagomedov. Khabib has since gone on to take the vacant belt, but it would be remiss to believe that Barboza didn’t cause him problems. Edson has some of the crispest, most accurate striking in all of MMA, let alone at 155lbs and his leg kicks are a thing of beauty. Just go back any watch his previous fights, win or lose he attacks the legs. His losses, in the majority, have been to the elite at 155lbs so this match will tell us as much about Kevin Lee and his potential, as about Barboza himself.
Kevin Lee enters the fight as a sizeable favourite, but I’m not buying it. Barboza has been in with a better level of fighter and acquitted himself very well yet all the money comes in for Lee. While Lee is far more than a hype train, I feel that the bookies are getting a little carried away with the Motown Phenom and have overpriced the Brazilian considerably. If Edson can maintain the distance, then he wins this fight comfortably.
Recommendation: Edson Barboza – 2 units at +135 (27/20) @ 5Dimes