UFC 197 Date: April 23, 2016 Arena: MGM Grand Garden Arena City: Las Vegas, NV Lightweight bout: Anthony Pettis (-185) vs Edson Barboza (+160) Fight Breakdown: The featured bout on the Pay Per View main cain card for UFC 197 in Las Vegas will be a barn burner in the lightweight division between former champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis and the always dangerous Edson “Junior” Barboza. Pettis is currently a -185 ($185 to win $100) betting favorite heading into this contest, with Barboza being the underdog at +160 ($100 to win $160) 5Dimes Sportsbooks. Anthony Pettis (18-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) is coming off back to back decision losses to UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos and current number one contender Eddie Alvarez and is in desparate need of a win heading into this contest. Pettis is an incredible striker; one of the elite in MMA and arguably the most exciting to watch. He has a flashy style but is very effective, as he is well known for his famous “kick heard around the world” AKA the “Showtime kick”, a kick-off-the-cage he landed on Henderson in the final round of their first meeting. He is very versatile on the feet and likes to implement all of his limbs in his offensive striking attack. He favors his kicks the most and certainly has a variety of them in his arsenal; he throws some vicious head and body kicks and has recorded a pair of very impressive Octagon knockouts with them, including a first round head-kick knockout over Joe Lauzon and a first round body-kick knockout over Donald Cerrone, respectively. To compliment his skills on the feet, the Wisconsin native is equally brilliant on the mat, as he is a serious threat from both top and bottom positions. He has a great rubber guard and always remains active from the bottom. Training out of Roufosport in Milwaukee, WI., the 29 year old is a well-conditioned athlete and I expect him to be prepared for a full 15-minutes of action, if necessary. Edson Barboza (16-4 MMA, 10-4 UFC) is coming off a second round d’Arce choke submission loss to Tony Ferguson and will be looking to bounce back into the win column with an impressive victory over the former UFC lightweight title holder. The Brazilian is a very talented Muay Thai striker who has developed excellent defensive wrestling skills. The biggest concern for Barboza at this point is his chin, considering the fact that he was dropped and finished by Jamie Varner, dropped and nearly finished by Castillo, then dropped again and submitted by Cerrone. That said, he did show good recovery against Castillo, as he did survive the onslaught to make a come-back and take home a majority decision on the judges’ scorecards. The 30-year old has an incredible kicking game and undoubtedly owns the hardest leg kicks in the lightweight division. He has scored three knockouts via leg kicks, with two of them coming inside the Octagon. The Brazilian has beautiful spinning kicks, as well, like the highlight-reel spinning heel kick he knocked out Terry Etim with. He often likes to use his spinning back kick, and also has a nice spinning roundhouse kick. The Muay Thai specialist mixes it up well on the feet, putting together some excellent and effective combinations. He has a good over-hand right, a solid left hook and a nice uppercut-left hook combination he likes to use. He uses his lead jab really well, and is great at working his range. Training in New Jersey with the likes of former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar and WSOF bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes, Barboza is well-conditioned and will be prepared for 15 minutes of action, should the fight go the distance. Gabe’s Call: Barboza by T/KO (left-hook, 2:33 round 2) Gabe’s Thoughts: I think this is a close fight and personally think Barboza should be slightly favored, so I like him for a value play at his current asking price of +160. Gabe’s Recommended Plays: Barboza (+160) 2.5u to win 4u
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