Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight contenders Edson Barboza (No. 5) and Beneil Dariush (No. 9) will duel this Saturday (March 11, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 106 inside Centro de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil.
Barboza has been a terrifying kickboxer since the first time he stepped into the Octagon, but it’s only recently that he became a contender. Barboza has really put his game together, and the Brazilian is coming close to earning a title shot of his own. Meanwhile, Dariush entered UFC just three years ago, but quickly proved his talents. The jiu-jitsu specialist packs some solid knockout power and wrestling, but he still remains the divisional dark horse.
Let’s take a look at keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Anthony Pettis (UFC 197), Gilbert Melendez (UFC on FOX 20), Bobby Green (UFC Fight Night 57), Paul Felder (UFC on FOX 16)
Key Losses: Tony Ferguson (TUF 22 Finale), Donald Cerrone (UFC on FOX 11), Michael Johnson (UFC Fight Night 61)
Keys to Victory: Barboza is likely the most pound-for-pound deadliest kicker in the entire sport, the only man to ever finish UFC fights via low, body and head kick. Under the tutelage of Mark Henry, Barboza’s offensive and defensive boxing has improved greatly as well.
In this match up, Barboza’s key to victory is to do exactly what he always does. Barboza controls range excellently, hammering his opponent with kicks from there and denying any takedown attempts. Dariush has some solid kicks and a deceptively hard punch, but he cannot hope to match Barboza on the feet for any extended period of time nor is he likely to score many takedowns.
Barboza has the technical skill to make Dariush’s night miserable. It’s the Brazilian’s fight to lose, so the pressure is on him to avoid letting an overhand slip through. In short, Barboza should be able to handle Dariush despite his ability, assuming he doesn’t have any major defensive lapses on the feet or ground.
Key Wins: Rashid Magomedov (UFC Fight Night 98), James Vick (UFC 199), Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 15)
Key Losses: Michael Chiesa (UFC on FOX 19), Ramsey Nijem (UFC Fight Night 39)
Keys to Victory: A black belt who found success on the competitive grappling scene, Dariush has submitted six of his opponents. Working with Rafael Cordeiro at King’s MMA, Dariush’s kickboxing has come along very quickly. It’s the reason he was able to score a close one over Magomedov and a debatable one opposite Michael Johnson.
To win this fight, Dariush likely needs a finish. Due to Barboza’s style, it’s going to be very difficult for Dariush to consistently get inside and score a takedown, meaning a top control decision is unlikely. Picking apart the Muay Thai master is also a long shot, so Dariush either needs to score a big knockout punch or find a quick submission on the mat.
To give himself the best chance at making something happen, Dariush needs to close distance to a range where he can fire off powerful punches or drop into takedown. To do so, he can’t simply push forward and hope for the best.
Instead, Dariush needs to kick with Barboza. That’s not to imply that he can match Barboza’s kicks, but Dariush’s kicks still must be respected. If he can keep Barboza honest at that range, Dariush will have more success at cutting off the Octagon and getting to his preferred distance.
Bottom Line: There’s a logjam at the top of Lightweight title picture, but the winner here takes another step closer.
Barboza is currently ranked fifth at 155 pounds and two men ahead of him — Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov — have stronger cases than the Brazilian win or lose. While one of them — following last week’s events, most likely Ferguson — should receive a title match soon, a win in this match up sets Barboza up with a title eliminator opposite the other. A loss to Dariush, meanwhile, drops Barboza a few ranks and sends him back to the drawing board.
As for Dariush, this is his opportunity to leapfrog some other contenders and move into the top five. He could even set himself up for that aforementioned title eliminator match, but fights with other top contenders like Eddie Alvarez or Michael Chiesa are also possible. Meanwhile, defeat does halt Dariush’s momentum. He’s been rising quickly, but a second loss in his last four fights will likely require him to go on a win streak before earning another Top 5-ranked opponent.
At UFC Fight Night 106, Edson Barboza and Beneil Dariush will scrap. Which fighter will have his hand raised?