Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight talents Bryce Mitchell and Edson Barboza will face off this weekend (Sat., March 5, 2022) at UFC 272 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Mitchell was last in action in October 2020, outworking Andre Fili to remain undefeated as a professional. Undefeated (5-0) inside the Octagon, Mitchell has climbed into the Top 15, and he’s looking to continue his rise up the ranks with a big step up vs. Barboza here. Speaking of the Brazilian, he’s established himself as a threat in the Featherweight division. Unfortunately, similar to his status at 155 pounds, the title shot remains elusive, as the Muay Thai specialist has yet to string together a long enough win streak to really take aim at the top.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Andre Fili (UFC Vegas 12), Charles Rosa (UFC 249), Matt Sayles (UFC on ESPN 7), Bobby Moffett (UFC Fight Night 148)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Mitchell is a quality wrestler and even better jiu-jitsu player. What really separates Mitchell from the pack of Featherweight grapplers is his ability to force opponents to play his game — once the grappling starts, it’s really tough to disengage from “Thug Nasty.”
The game plan for Mitchell could not be more clear here. He has to press Barboza from the first bell and force him to wrestle constantly. Mitchell is nowhere near the striker necessary to compete with Barboza, but he doesn’t have to be if he can force the Brazilian into his world.
Historically, Barboza struggles when forced to constantly fight from his back foot, particularly if he has to wrestle off the fence often. Mitchell has the skills to relentlessly pursue that style of fight.
Once Mitchell scores his first takedown, everything becomes much easier.
Key Wins: Anthony Pettis (UFC 197), Gilbert Melendez (UFC on FOX 20), Dan Hooker (UFC on FOX 31), Beneil Dariush (UFC Fight Night 106), Paul Felder (UFC on FOX 16), Shane Burgos (UFC 262)
Key Losses: Giga Chikadze (UFC Vegas 35), Justin Gaethje (UFC on ESPN 2), Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 128), Khabib Nurmagomedov (UFC 219), Tony Ferguson (TUF 22 Finale)
Keys to Victory: Barboza is an electric striker, one of the most volatile kickers in the UFC. Despite his struggles with pressure wrestling, Barboza is generally a very difficult man to take down — only special fighters have grounded him consistently.
Barboza has to do something to keep Mitchell off him. His initial sprawl is excellent, that’s not the problem. Barboza will run into issues if he defends Mitchell’s first shot then fails to break away, at which point he loses all that distance explosiveness that makes him so unique.
Barboza needs strikes up the middle: body jabs, crosses to the chest, front kicks, jump knees. These are attacks that Mitchell cannot simply walk through. They’ll buy Barboza time to analyze his opponent’s movements and start breaking him down with ripping low and body kicks.
Footwork will also be huge here, as a big key to disengaging from Mitchell’s grappling is avoiding the fence in the first place. Barboza has to stand his ground or cut angles with his defense — he simply cannot allow himself to be run into the cage.
One man leaves the cage as a Top 10 Featherweight.
Though the pair are next to one another in the rankings, this remains a step up in competition for Mitchell. Barboza has been there and done that versus the best fighters in the world for the last decade, and only the top-tier defeat him. If Mitchell can add himself to that list of names, he breaks into the Top 10 with a good bit of momentum behind him, continuing his run as an unlikely contender.
On the other hand, this is a dangerous rebound fight for Barboza. Mitchell is the kind of inexperienced striker who’s quite likely to run into a Barboza heater of some kind — be it jump knee, high kick, or right hand — but he’s also the type of committed grinder that has plagued Barboza. If the Brazilian is to remain a fringe title threat, he has to return to the win column here.
Otherwise, he’s going to be stuck in the gate keeper role at a second weight class.
At UFC 272, Edson Barboza and Bryce Mitchell will duel in an important Featherweight contest. Will the striker or wrestler prevail?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 272 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 272: “Covington vs. Masvidal” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.