Fight fans are in for a combat treat tomorrow night (Sat., Mar. 30, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 2 from inside Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, when perennial lightweight contender Edson Barboza takes on human wrecking ball Justin Gaethje in the main event.
While this is a big opportunity for Gaethje to prove he can command his aggression and get past another dangerous veteran at 155 pounds, it’s a matchup that’s just as important to Barboza, who is coming off an absolutely barbaric finish over Dan Hooker this past December. Barboza will not only have the chance to lock down his first win streak since 2016, but the Brazilian will also have the opportunity to prove he’s a more polished striker than Gaethje, especially when it comes to leg kicks.
“A lot of guys don’t talk about that,” Barboza told MMA Fighting earlier this week. “because I come from Muay Thai. Everybody tried to finish me with a leg kick, but nobody finished me yet with a leg kick. You can say whatever you want.
“I have two finishes in the UFC with leg kicks. He doesn’t have any finishes in the UFC with the leg kicks. It’s different. You see my style and his style, it’s very different. His leg kicks work well too, he’s a great fighter, but definitely I don’t have only the leg kicks. I have finishes with body kicks, I have finishes with high kicks. I’m definitely the best kicker in the game.”
As two of the most dangerous and destructive strikers at 155 pounds today, Barboza and Gaethje are expected to turn in one of the best MMA fights of 2019. Whether they end up going leg kick for leg kick has yet to be seen, but you better believe both men are going to sustain a lot of damage when the cage door shuts tomorrow night in Philly.
Luckily, Barboza isn’t too worried about the pain associated with a Justin Gaethje fight.
“I don’t worry about the damage,” added Barboza. “If I thought about the damage, I’d go to be a doctor or, I don’t know, do something different. I’m a fighter. This is my whole life. I’ve [been taking] damage my whole life. I’m a Muay Thai fighter. I think I’ve had close to 1,000 stitches in my face. I’m definitely not worried about the damage. A couple years ago I remember I had my fights against Tony Ferguson and Paul Felder, [they were in conversations for] fights of the year. I have them too. That makes me very excited.
“I’m ready for pain, 25 minutes.”
Given Gaethje’s track record in UFC and World Series of Fighting (WSOF), Barboza will likely have to endure an unworldly amount of damage before being able to stop “Highlight” in his tracks. That’s why fight fans have circled this matchup on their calendars since it was booked and why UFC felt confident in scheduling Barboza vs. Gaethje as the headliner for the promotion’s second stop on big ESPN.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC on ESPN 2 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN at 5 p.m. ET, before the ESPN main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.
To see who else is fighting at UFC on ESPN 2 click here.