The UFC heads back to Fortaleza, Brazil with a card packed with local favourites in each of the 13 booked bouts, which should ensure a rabid reception from the fans. Top to bottom the card isn’t the strongest so I’ve focused on the main and co-main event for betting purposes. My thoughts are below, along with odds provided by 5DimesLines.com.
Edson Barboza vs. Beniel Dariush
Barboza gets another opportunity to continue his rise back up the ranks of the 155lb division here. Sidelined for a few months after his win over perennial challenger Gil Melendez, which followed a win over former divisional kingpin Anthony Pettis, the Muay Thai specialist will be looking for opportunities to unleash those trademark devastating leg kicks.
Since recording a series of high profile finishes, Barboza has allowed his game to develop, and is far more patient in his approach these days. The result has been a series of clear decision victories, although interspersed amongst a couple of losses, albeit against legitimate contenders. This is the blueprint of a fighter getting ready to reach his prime and uncovering his fight IQ.
Dariush is a fighter who’s flirted with the top 10, but never quite cemented his place or gave the impression he really belonged there. This was demonstrated when he took a highly contentious split decision from Michael Johnson.
Although clearly undeserving of the ‘W’, Dariush was unable to capitalise on his good fortune and was submitted by Michael Chiesa next time out. His stock rose slightly with a convincing performance against James Vick, and an underdog victory against Rashid Magomedov, but a win over Barboza would see his stock rise exponentially.
Although I heavily favour Barboza in this matchup Dariush does carry a submission game that could give the Brazilian nightmares. Barboza has been relatively easy to submit when getting hit in the face, a glaring chink in an otherwise solid armour, meaning this could be another chance for Dariush to cause the upset.
If Barboza has truly matured, as I feel he has, then he should be able to use his kicks to keep Dariush at range and take a comfortable and clear decision. That fight IQ is always suspect though and it’s the one thing that stops me pulling the trigger on him for a bigger stake.
Recommendation: Edson Barboza – 3 units at -170 (3/5) @5Dimes