MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR THURSDAY: UFC BOOKS GAETHJE VS. BARBOZA, BLAYDES VS. WILLIS

A pair of high profile bouts in the UFC lightweight and heavyweight divisions are added to upcoming fight cards, and I’ll give my first thoughts on those new matchups in the current MMA odds and ends.
Justin Gaethje vs. Edson Barboza, UFC Fight Night 148
An exciting lightweight connection between strikers Justin Gaethje and Edson Barboza is being targeted for UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Farah Hannoun broke the information, although ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reported the fight may occur at UFC Fight Night 149 another week at Philadelphia. Either way, it looks like this struggle is going to take place, which is good news for MMA fans as it pits among the most dangerous and fascinating strikers in the lightweight division against each other.
Gaethje (19-2) is 2-2 so far in the UFC but has become a household name to MMA fans due to his ability to put on an amazing show. He has already racked up five bonus awards, including three”Fight of the Night” awards and two”Performance of the Night” awards, such as a bonus for his KO over James Vick past August. He has been prone to being knocked out in the UFC as he dropped to Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez, but because he demonstrated against Vick and Michael Johnsonhe has incredible knockout power himself. Barboza (20-6) is 14-6 overall at the UFC and in his last fight he place about the 2018″Beatdown of the Year” because of his brutal TKO win over Dan Hooker. Barboza is known for his mortal leg kicks and incredible knockout power, but like Gaethje he has been prone to the knockout as well.
This looks like an amazing battle on newspaper, and the fact it’s place for five rounds is just tremendous. Both men are excellent fighters and I’m expecting a close betting line. Now, it seems like near a Select ’em fight, but thinking about how great Barboza looked in his last fight he might find more support from bettors because of recency bias.
Curtis Blaydes vs. Justin Willis, UFC Fight Night 148
A heavyweight matchup between Curtis Blaydes and Justin Willis can also be place for UFC Fight Night 148. FloCombat’s Nolan King broke the news. Blaydes (10-2, 1 NC) is 5-2, 1 NC in the UFC and in his last fight suffered a brutal knockout loss to Francis Ngannou. He’d won four consecutive fights before that, though, like a TKO over Alistair Overeem, and could easily get back to the heavyweight title talks with another few wins. Willis (8-1) is 4-0 at the UFC and in his final fight picked up the biggest win of his career to date over Mark Hunt. The problem with Willis is that he has not shown off considerably finishing ability in the UFC, and his wrestling is very likely to be negated in this matchup against Blaydes. It’s heavyweight so you can not ever count anyone out, but on paper this looks like Blaydes’ struggle to win and I expect him to be a strong favorite when the odds come out.
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