The UFC will stay home this week at the UFC Apex as they play host to yet another UFC on ESPN Fight Night as the promotion closes out what has been the best year in their company’s history.
Streamed in its entirety on ESPN, the main card will go off at 10 pm EST. Following two The Ultimate Fighter finals in the lead-up, a pair of featherweights in Edson Barboza and Giga Chikadze are scheduled to go at it in the main event.
This one is as close as I can remember for main events, as each fighter is favored at different books. Let’s take a closer look and see which one is right.
Betting Profile: Edson Barboza (22-9-0)
Last Five Fights
A seasoned practitioner across multiple pedigrees (Black prajied in Muay Thai, Black belt in Taekwondo, Brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), Barboza’s fight history is an equally impressive mixed bag. Before his current two-fight win streak, Barbza had lost five of six but against some of the sport’s absolute best in Khabib, Justin Gaethje, Paul Felder, and Dan Ige.
A look at the metrics shows a seasoned striker in Barbosa, who lands 4.01 strikes per minute, with 42% of them being significant. On the flip side, his 60% striking defense is also strong, placing him just outside the top 60%.
Betting Profile: Giga Chikadze (13-2-0)
Last Five Fights
Having entered the UFC less than two years ago, Chikadze is still relatively unknown and comes into this one for what is by far the biggest fight of his career. His last loss came in 2018 on Dana White’s Contender Series 10, a rear-naked choke in his featherweight debut.
A vicious striker in his own right, Chikadze is a third-degree black belt in Goju-ryu Karate and has the stats to show it. In his last two wins, the 7th and 8th of his current streak, Chikadze has finished both opponents via TKO in the first round.
With Barboza making just his third appearance in the main event (the first two were losses) and Chikadze making his first, I expect a conservative game plan out of the gates from both as they feel one another out and pace themselves for a five-round affair. Combining for just 2 submission wins, I don’t expect that path to victory to be on the table for either fighter as this one unfolds.
What I do expect, however, is for both to be careful about what spots they take as we get a fighter in Barboza (#9), who is a loss away from falling out of the top 15 rankings, and one in Chikadze (#10) who is likely two wins away from a coveted top 5 fight.
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