UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee Preview
A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Atlantic City, N.J.
Updated: April 18, 2018 • 7:30 PM ET
Cub Swanson is looking to bounce back from a tough loss in December.
Atlantic City, N.J. will host an outstanding UFC card on Saturday at Boardwalk Hall. The event will feature two top lightweights, two top featherweights and many other great fighters in what should be one of the best non-pay-per-views shows of 2018.
The main event will feature a lightweight fight between No. 4 Edson Barboza and No. 7 Kevin Lee. Barboza is coming off a lopsided loss to lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219 in December. Prior to that defeat, he had won four of five fights and was perhaps one win away from a title shot. Nevertheless, Nurmagomedov completely neutralized Barboza’s striking and dominated him on the ground in a way not many had seen before.
Barboza is one of the UFC’s best strikers and can end any fight in the blink of an eye, which may force Lee into becoming a defensive fighter on Saturday. He has defeated fighters such as Beneil Dariush, Anthony Pettis, Gilbert Melendez, Paul Felder and Bobby Green, and a win over a rising star like Lee would put Barboza right back into title contention. Lee, however, is known for having above average wrestling and ground work, so Barboza will have a heavy task ahead of him if he wishes to keep the fight standing.
Lee is 9-3 in the UFC and coming off an interim title loss to Tony Ferguson in October, before which Lee had trouble making weight and suffered from a staph infection. Despite his struggles, Lee fought a great fight for two rounds against Ferguson, but the former interim champ submitted Lee in the third round.
The 25-year-old Lee can establish himself as a title threat with a win over a signature opponent such as Barboza. Most would predict that he’ll try to get the fight to the ground, but Lee has shown improved striking with each fight, especially with his defensive and offensive angles, so fans may see a standup battle in the opening minutes. No one should expect Barboza to want anything to do with the ground after his last fight, but should the fight end up there, Lee will likely hold the advantage.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a featherweight rematch with major title implications between New Jersey native and No. 3 Frankie Edgar and No. 4 Cub Swanson. Both fighters are coming off a loss at the hands at No. 1 ranked Brian Ortega.
Edgar is a former lightweight champion and 2-2 in his last four fights. He was supposed to challenge Max Holloway for the featherweight title at UFC 218, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. He was again scheduled to fight Holloway for the title at UFC 222, but an injury forced Holloway to withdraw. Ortega stepped in for Holloway and finished Edgar for the first time in his career.
Edgar is likely a Hall of Famer and has defeated fighters such as Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, Sean Sherk, Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and BJ Penn three times. The 36-year-old is one win away from reminding everyone that he’s not going anywhere, but a loss might push him down to the middle of the pack in a young division. Edgar will also have the added pressure, or advantage, of fighting at home.
Swanson was likely one win away from a title shot before his loss to Ortega in December. Prior to that fight, he had won four straight with his last loss before the winning streak coming to champion Holloway in 2015. The 34-year-old Swanson is known for having a well-rounded attack and has improved since his last fight with Edgar. He has collected wins over Stephens, Dooho Choi, Dustin Poirier and Ross Pearson. Edgar would represent the biggest victory of his career and possibly the title shot he has waited for.
The rest of the main card
A heavyweight fight between Justin Willis and Chase Sherman will also be on the main card. Willis is 2-0 in the UFC and coming off a first-round knockout of Allen Crowder in December at UFC 218. Chase Sherman is 2-3 in the UFC and coming off a loss to Shamil Abdurakhimov in November.
The main card will also feature a middleweight fight between No. 8 David Branch and No. 11 Thiago Santos. Branch is 1-1 in his second stint with the UFC, most recently losing to Luke Rockhold in September. Santos is riding a four-fight winning streak and is 9-4 in the UFC.
Also featured will be a bantamweight fight between No. 8 Aljamain Sterling and No. 14 Brett Johns. Sterling is 2-3 in his last five fights, most recently losing by knockout to Marlon Moraes in December. Johns is 3-0 in the UFC and most recently defeated Joe Soto by first-round submission in December.
Rounding out the main card will be a lightweight fight between Jim Miller and Dan Hooker. Miller will attempt to rebound from three straight losses after winning three straight. The 34-year-old has fought for the UFC since 2008 and defeated fighters such as Duane Ludwig, Gleison Tibau, Yancy Medeiros, Takanori Gomi and Joe Lauzon. Hooker is riding two straight wins most recently defeated Marc Diakiese by third-round submission in December.
Welterweight fight - Ryan LaFlare vs. Alex Garcia
Flyweight fight - No. 15 Magomed Bibulatov vs. Ulka Sasaki
Welterweight fight - Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Luan Chagas
Light heavyweight fight - No. 10 Corey Anderson vs. No. 11 Patrick Cummins
UFC Fight Pass Early Prelims
Women’s bantamweight fight - No. 9 Leslie Smith vs. No. 10 Aspen Ladd
Bantamweight fight - Merab Dvalishvili vs. Ricky Simon
Welterweight fight - Tony Martin vs. Keita Nakamura
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