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UFC on ESPN 2 start time, TV schedule, who is fighting tonight at ‘Barboza vs Gaethje'

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will invade Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa., TONIGHT (Sat., March 30, 2019) to stage UFC on ESPN 2, which features a Lightweight showdown between Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje, while the co-main event will see David Branch face Jack Hermansson in Middleweight action.

What’s Hot:

Barboza and Gaethje are two of the most exciting fighters in mixed martial arts arts (MMA), regardless of weight class. So when you put those two combustible elements into the cage together, an explosion of exciting violence is sure to be the outcome. Barboza has been plugging away for quite a while now, and right when he’s on the cusp of perhaps getting into title contention, he suffers a loss ... despite putting on an exciting performance doing it. That said, “Junior,” I’m sure, is tired of playing the bridesmaid so a win over Gaethje could help him inch closer to his first-ever shot UFC title shot. This will be fight No. 21 for Barboza under the UFC banner, so the time to make a run is now.

As far as Gaethje is concerned, he is one of the toughest combatants out there and one of the hardest to put away. Sure, the only two losses of his career are via technical knockout, but prior to that, “Highlight” wreaked havoc to the tune of 18 violent wins in a row. Gaethje’s UFC career has been subpar so far, going 2-2. As exciting a fighter as he his, it seems the former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion is not too keen on risking his life anymore for smaller pay. Especially in five rounds fights, which he will once again take part in. Still, as much as Gaethje wants to reel it in, it will be easier said than done, as it is simply not in his nature to take it easy and cruise. I fully expect an all-out striking war that could very well end in the very first round as both men only know one way to fight, and that is full speed ahead.

David Branch’s return to the Octagon hasn’t exactly gone as he had hoped, alternating wins and losses for an even 2-2 mark. Prior to that, he was WSOF’s double champion, proving that the levels to this game are very wide apart. That said, Branch is as dangerous as they come, and one blow from the heavy-hitter could prove disastrous for anyone of his foes.

Jack Hermansson, meanwhile, isn’t exactly a top name yet inside the Octagon, but he’s making strides to get some recognition. With two straight wins in his back pocket, an impressive victory over Branch could put him on the path to bigger and better things. He simply needs a nice signature win.

What’s Not:

I can’t complain too much about this card. The main event is going to be bananas, while the main card is very solid. Also, the undercard isn’t too shabby, so we should be in for an overall great night of fights. When you consider UFC is starting to stack its pay-per-view (PPV) events, some cards are left rather weak. This wasn't the case here.

Original Card Vs. Actual Card:

Jessica Aguilar stepped in for Alexa Grasso — after she was injured — to face off against Marina Rodriguez. Pingyuan Liu was was supposed to face Ray Borg, but after he was removed from the event, Kyler Phillips was tagged as his replacement.


Aside from Grasso coming down with an injury, Liu was forced out of his fight against Borg after he suffered an injury and was ultimately replaced by Octagon newcomer Kyler Phillips. Phillips, meanwhile, was later replaced by Casey Kenney. As for Borg, he's still fighting, but he came in heavy for the fight and was docked 30 percent of his purse.

New Blood:

Undefeated (6-0) Sabina Mazo will bring her talents to UFC’s women’s Flyweight division when she faces off against veteran Maryna Moroz. At just 22 years of age, Mazo won the Flyweight strap for LFA before getting the call up. Don’t be surprised if you see this up-and-coming star make a splash inside the Octagon rather swiftly. Indeed, a win over a long-time veteran like Moroz could put everyone on notice.

The Light Heavyweight division will get another good addition with the arrival of Kennedy Nzechukwu. The towering 205-pounder came up via “Contender Series,” holding four knockouts of his six victories. Of course, he is still very green, so he will have his work cut out for him in a very crowded division that still sees Jon Jones reigning and eager to take out all of the up-and-coming crop. His first test is Paul Craig, a man who is very capable of spoiling Kennedy’s debut rather violently.

LFA double champ Casey Kenney got the call up to the big show to face off against Ray Borg after Kyler Phillips was forced out. Kenney needed more than a run on “Contender Series” to get to UFC's cage, and now that he is here, he looks to make a splash against a recognizable name.

To get a more detailed and extensive look at all of the “New Blood” click here.

How The ‘Prelims’ Look:

Long-time MMA veteran Ross Pearson is still going at it and will take part in UFC fight No. 26 when he faces off against Desmond Green. Pearson is one of those guys who simply couldn’t make it to the top of the mountain. And that’s okay, as he made a great living for himself competing for so long inside the Octagon and put on some memorable performances. To that end, I’m sure Green would love nothing more than to catapult himself up with a win over “Real Deal.” Still, if Green thinks he's going to roll right over the aging veteran, he's got another thing coming.

Aguilar hasn’t quite enjoyed the success she did while with WSOF, going just 1-3 inside the Octagon. If she can’t get a win over Marina Rodriguez, don’t be too surprised to see “Jag” fighting elsewhere moving forward. She has the skills to be dangerous, but Aguilar just can’t seem to find her groove inside the Octagon for whatever reason.

Borg hasn’t competed since 2017, losing to former UFC Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. It truly has been one thing or another for Borg, who was caught in the crossfire of Conor McGregor’s temper tantrum in Brooklyn. Aside from injuries setting him back, Borg also took some time to be by his son’s side after he underwent multiple brain surgeries. Now, Borg will look to pick up his first win in 1.5 years against newcomer Casey Kenney.

To learn more about the “Prelims” for UFC on ESPN 2 click here and here.

Who Needs A Win Badly:

Moroz has dropped her last two fights, losing to Angela Hill and Carla Esparza. Her bounce back fight isn’t exactly an easy one, even though she will be facing a newcomer. Indeed, Mazo is capable of handing Moroz her third straight defeat, which won’t sit too well with the UFC higher-ups when it comes time to thin the heard. To be safe, Moroz needs a huge win later this evening.

Interest Level: 7/10

It’s actually a pretty decent offering for UFC’s second show on big ESPN. Aside from the main- and co-main events, the main card boasts a lineup that could provide fireworks. Michelle Waterson will look for her third straight victory when she faces off against former title contender, Karolina Kowalkiewicz. “Karate Hottie” has had her fair share of promotional love from UFC (example here), but she hasn’t quite gotten over the hump when it comes to title contention. A win over Kowalkiewicz should do the trick and set her up nicely to face off against the winner of Rose Namajunas and Jessica Andrade.

Kowalkiewicz, meanwhile, has gotten a taste of a big title fight against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, so you know she’s itching to get back to the big dance. While it will take more than a win over Waterson to get her there, it is still a good start for her. Losing to “Karate Hottie, though, could set her back quite a bit.

Also, Josh Emmett will look to bounce back after his knockout defeat to Jeremy Stephens when he faces long-time UFC veteran Michael Johnson. “The Menace” has won two straight and is looking to make it three in a row for the first time in a long time. Despite going under the radar in his last few bouts, Johnson is still a capable fighter and can be a top star in UFC, he just needs to keep hitting them out of the park once he gets inside the cage. Taking out Emmett is a good step forward.

It all comes to a conclusion when Barboza and Gaethje collide in what could very well turn out to be a "Fight of the Year" candidate.

Enjoy the fights!

UFC on ESPN 2 Full Fight Card:

UFC on ESPN 2 Main Event:

155 lbs.: Edson Barboza vs. Justin Gaethje

UFC on ESPN 2 Main Card on ESPN (7 p.m. ET):

185 lbs.: David Branch vs. Jack Hermansson
145 lbs.: Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson
115 lbs.: Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs. Michelle Waterson
205 lbs.: Paul Craig vs. Kennedy Nzechukwu
145 lbs.: Sheymon Moraes vs. Sodiq Yusuff

UFC on ESPN 2 Prelims on ESPN (5 p.m. ET):

115 lbs.: Jessica Aguilar vs. Marina Rodriguez
155 lbs.: Desmond Green vs. Ross Pearson
145 lbs.: Kevin Aguilar vs. Enrique Barzola
185 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Gerald Meerschaert

UFC on ESPN 2 Prelims on ESPN+ (3:30 p.m. ET):

135 lbs.: Ray Borg vs Kasey Kenny
125 lbs.: Maryna Moroz vs. Sabina Mazo
135 lbs.: Mark De La Rosa vs. Alex Perez

For more upcoming UFC events click here.

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