Edson BarbozaPrior to each UFC fight card, Jay Primetown takes a look at some of the key contests at each event. In the latest installment, we look at a key fight at UFC Fight Night 106 as lightweights Edson Barboza and Beneil Dariush square off in Fortaleza, Brazil. Edson Barboza (Record: 17-4, -175 Favorite, Power Ranking: B+) The Brazilian-born, New Jersey-trained fighter is coming off wins over former Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and former UFC champion Anthony Pettis. In addition to a purple belt in BJJ, Barboza holds black belts in Muay Thai and taekwondo. The highly-skilled striker had fought professionally in Muay Thai prior to picking up MMA. Barboza is a ruthless striker with perhaps the best leg kicks in the sports. He’s finished opponents multiple times simply by chopping down their legs until they couldn’t fight anymore. He combines that with good power in his hands as well as fantastic knockout power in his head kicks. Barboza’s takedown defense is excellent at 86 percent, forcing his opponent’s to beat him on the feet. In order to have success against Barboza, an opponent needs to put pressure on Barboza and not allow him space to land his heavy leg strikes. Cutting off the cage a key component in thwarting Barboza’s game plan. Beneil Dariush (Record: 14-2, +155 Underdog, Power Ranking: B) The Rafael Cordeiro-trained lightweight has been one of the fastest improving fighters in the division over the last few years. He holds black belts in BJJ and Muay Thai training at one of sport’s top camps in Kings MMA. Dariush has entered the top of the lightweight rankings, winning seven of his last eight fights in the UFC, including victories against Michael Johnson and Rashid Magomedov. Dariush has utilized the techniques of his coach Cordeiro to really round out his skill set. The lightweight does an excellent job of mixing in strikes and does very well at working the body of his opponents. He times his takedown attempts well and rarely puts himself in danger when on the ground. Dariush has only been submitted once during his MMA career. While Dariush is not a natural finisher, he can certainly work for submissions on the ground. On the feet, he’s more of an accumulation of strikes type of fighter with the body work allowing him to really takeover fights late. He’s traditionally not a power puncher, but he did land key power shots to put away James Vick in his last bout. Matchup A compelling fight between Top 10 lightweights pits Barboza against Dariush at UFC Fight Night 106 in Fortaleza, Brazil. This is a fight where Barboza has a clear advantage on the feet. Dariush has certainly made improvements over the years in this regard, but Barboza’s kicks are lethal and difficult to game plan against. Barboza is a striker that one cannot allow space, as he’s at his best when he can open and land his kicks from distance. If Dariush is going to have success in this bout, he’s going to need to keep this fight in phone book range and look for takedowns to control rounds. The problem for Dariush is his wrestling is nowhere near good enough to get Barboza to the mat. Barboza has excellent takedown defense with powerful legs that are hard to move. This will force Dariush into a prolonged standing exchange that he will struggle to win. Dariush being a southpaw could present some initial challenges for Barboza, but it’s something he’ll be able to overcome quickly. Dariush is durable, so the fight going the distance is probable, but Barboza landing a heavy kick to floor Dariush is also possible. Either way, this is Barboza’s fight to lose and even at -175 he’s worth considering as a bet on fight day.


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