UFC on ESPN 2 Odds, Preview & Expert Predictions

Posted by Derrick Harper on March 28, 2019 in

The UFC must have thought long and hard before deciding what fight would be the headlining contest in the promotion’s return to Philadelphia after not holding an event in “The City of Brotherly Love” for nearly eight years. The reputation of Philadelphia sports betting fans for being difficult to please and quick to voice their displeasure is well documented, so the lightweight fight between all-action contenders Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje makes perfect sense for UFC on ESPN 2.

UFC on ESPN 2 Odds, Preview & Expert Predictions

History Shows Good Fighting to Come

Barboza lost two fights, one to Khabib and one to Kevin Lee, before turning things around with a win against Dan Hooker back in December. He will take some momentum into this fight, but so too will Gaethje, who knocked out James Vick in his last fight with a nasty right hand just a minute and a half into their fight. Both men will seek to close the show before the final horn sounds in a fight that has all the makings of an instant classic.

Perez in the Ring

Alex Perez (21-5) emerged as an elite prospect with a submission win on the “Contender Series” and three consecutive UFC victories, among them a first-round knockout of red-hot Jose “Shorty” Torres. His battle with Joe Benavidez didn’t go nearly as well, as “Joe B” beat him good despite the ref missing an initial attempt at a stoppage. He had won eight straight before running into the bandsaw that is Benavidez.

De La Rosa Back in Acton at UFC on ESPN 2

Mark De La Rosa (11-1) went right into the deep end for his short-notice UFC debut, which saw him tap to a Tim Elliott anaconda choke midway through the second round. “The Bumblebee” has done quite a bit better when given time to prepare, choking out Elias Garcia and narrowly edging Joby Sanchez in Nov. 2018.

In the women’s side of things, we have a tremendous fight between Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson. At this point, Waterson’s strategy is clear enough. She only wants to fight from two ranges: the clinch and kicking distance. In the clinch, her hip tosses and takedowns are surprisingly powerful and technical, and her Karate background and quickness helps quite a bit at distance.

In this bout, the clinch is not such a safe place for Waterson, as it’s also Kowalkiewicz’ strongest area. That does not mean it must be avoided completely, only utilized briefly. At distance, Waterson does have an advantage. Kowalkiewicz is the heavier puncher, but she tends to be a bit clunky with her movement. If Waterson is moving fast and throwing lateral kicks, Kowalkiewicz will have a hard time tracking her down.

What Will it Take

Evasive movement, sidekicks some quick combinations, and a takedown or two sounds like a winning recipe for the former Atomweight queen. As a fan of smart fighting, it genuinely pains me to watch a majority of Michelle Waterson’s opponents fail to even try taking advantage of their size. Credit to Waterson for finding ways to win, but her fights would be much more difficult if past opponents were more willing to push the issue.

Kowalkiewicz should not have this issue. The Polish athlete is aggressive, high-volume and loves the clinch. So long as she remains true to her style and forces the fight, her size and brutal knees from a close distance should quickly wear down Waterson.