Edson Barboza of Brazil punches Khabib Nurmagomedov of Russia in their lightweight bout during the UFC 219

Sodiq Yusuff and Edson Barboza will go head-to-head in this weekend’s UFC Fight Night 230 (UFC Vegas 81) main event.

The five-round featherweight clash sees #11-ranked Yusuff defending his spot in the rankings against Barboza, who is ranked #13.

The event will take place this Saturday, October 14, at the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read on for our staff predictions, breakdowns, and best bets for this fight.

Betting Odds

Sodiq Yusuff is currently a slight betting favorite as we approach the UFC Fight Night 230 main event.

  • Edson Barboza: +140 (BetUS)
  • Sodiq Yusuff: -170 (BetUS)

Yusuff vs. Barboza predictions

Braeden Arbour

Two very dangerous strikers match up when Edson Barboza takes on Sodiq Yussuf this Saturday, and this one promises to be fireworks. Both men are KO artists first and foremost, with one submission a piece at some point in their careers, Barboza early on and Yussuf in just his last fight. Yussuf’s March 2022 win over Alex Caceres was an impressive jump in competition, but although he won the fight, Barboza may be able to look back at the performance and take away some keys for himself. Caceres, like Barboza, is a dynamic striker from kickboxing range, and the general consensus for fighters matched up with either of them is to smother their space to work and get on the inside. Sodiq Yusseff may give Barboza some of the same looks he gave Caceres that night.

Sodiq Yussef was unable to reach Caceres with much success early on but made the adjustments to chain his duck under and wrestle the kickboxer, draining him of some energy and making it easier to strike in the pocket by the second round. He also invested in low kicks early. Both of these tactics would be smart to employ against Barboza, although as a more seasoned Muay Thai specialist, Barboza will have an answer, especially for the low kicks, and in turn has some of the most devastating low kicks in the UFC, himself. Barboza also has a particularly high takedown defense ratio, but it still stands that if Yussuf can get him to the cage and hang on him, he can force Barboza to work even if he cannot get him to the ground and hold him there.

For Barboza, angles are key. Yussuf carries a lot of power and confidence in that power in the way he moves into range. He has in the past shown a tendency to march in with his head staying on the same plane, and Barboza, being as technically sound as he is, could work off angles and fire back behind the big punches of Yussuf. Likewise, if Yussuf chases Barboza instead of cutting off the octagon, he may look to crash into a clinch and eat a knee to the body down the middle, I doubt that Yussuf will be level-changing into a knee, but the body could be exposed if he finds himself over compensating looking to find Barboza if Barboza stays on his bike with constant movement.

Both of these men are on the larger side for 145lbs, Barboza at one point being considered a relatively good-sized 155er. That, plus the nature of their powerful and explosive styles, both men have the potential to slow down. Yussuf has never gone five rounds, and Barboza has but once in a losing bid to Kevin Lee many years ago. That being said, I believe it would be detrimental for both men to shy away from their physical explosiveness and their usual style, instead employing tactics to more quickly wear out each other would be smart on both ends. Barboza has more experience at a high level, which although I do not think will aid him in being less tired, he may be more comfortable fighting tired in the latter rounds if it comes to it.

This is a very good matchup, and both men will have their moments. I do believe that Yussuf can work his way in at points and make it a much more uncomfortable striking match for Barboza, but he always runs the risk of eating something as he comes in squared up. I think that on a trajectory like his, the unusual speed of Barboza will be an early shock that he has to overcome before settling into the fight, and the fact that Yussuf has been tagged and hurt before rallying back with his own power does not bode well for him in a jump in competition against a striker like Barboza. The smartest bet on this fight would be for the fight to NOT go the distance at -250, but as an underdog, it’s more than not a good value to pick Barboza in a matchup of two KO artists. Bigger risk, but best value is Edson Barboza by KO/TKO for +210.

Pick: Edson Barboza to win by KO/TKO

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Michael Pounders

Sodiq “Super” Yusuff, simultaneously praised for his strategic rise to the #11 ranked featherweight yet criticized for his inactivity, is fighting for the first time in 2023. He’s stayed relevant, even grown in popularity, in the MMA community through his satirical UFC breakdowns. The following he’s gained from these videos has helped Yusuff with the fight for notoriety outside of the cage.

His fighting style, much like his strategy in picking fights, is sometimes inactive but undeniably effective. Yusuff has only lost twice in his career and once in the UFC. And, despite 3 finish wins, impressive striking differential, and hand speed, Yusuff has bouts of inactivity in the cage that allows lesser strikers opportunities to recover and counter.

But, as with his YouTube channel, Yusuff’s style has gained in popularity as of late. He’s shown an increased aggression in the cage without sacrificing his precise combinations and effective defense. Through his increased aggression, Yusuff has dealt more damage to his opponents, won through more convincing decisions, and, most recently, secured a finish win.

His game plan, though, has not changed much. Yusuff still tends to use cracking leg kicks at range while standing athletically with a high guard to encourage his opponents to crash distance. Once they crash distance, “Super” lands a lightning-fast and powerful combination that often includes several attacks to both the body and head. His counter-heavy style requires a dance partner to move into his trap. In those cases, Yusuff’s edge in speed, technique, and variety often leave him on the winning side. However, if an opponent can force Yusuff to fight out of rhythm, we’ve seen him struggle, clipped, and even dropped in fights.

Throughout his career, Edson Barboza has accumulated a litany of highlight reel knockouts that will likely go down as some of the best knockouts in the featherweight division. His unique combination of size, unreal athleticism, creativity on the feet, and willingness to attempt an unorthodox strike create situations where his opponent catches something clean and wakes up to a doctor while Barboza celebrates.

At 37, while he is undeniably slowing with age, his abilities on the feet are still prevalent. His style is electric, his attacks diversified, and his power still packs a punch. However, his reactions, his cardio, and his ability to land in pressure combinations are handicapped by his age and the wars in which he’s fought. Barboza used to be able to strike dynamically while athletically evading counter strikes.

Now, while his attacks are still dynamic, he’s a touch slow to react defensively and has been hit more cleanly and more often. Further, while Barboza’s size and speed allowed him to even attempt these dynamic strikes, his top-tier cardio allowed him to continue the high-energy movements throughout the fight. Once more, at 37, his cardio is less reliable and those high-energy movements more taxing. Finally, Barboza’s difficulties with pressure strikers have always caused him issues in the cage, and they still do now, just with more impact. To paraphrase a song, Barboza has moments where he’s as good as he once was and might be good, once, as he ever was. But, odds are, given his age, style, and mileage in the cage, the best of Barboza is likely in the past.

Prime versus prime, I’d take Barboza every day of the week. He is uniquely suited to match Yusuff’s typical edge in speed, technique, and striking variety while he has the added edge in wrestling, power, and range attacks. However, Barboza hasn’t been in his prime for a few years. While he earned yet another highlight reel knockout his last time out, recently, Barboza has been out-struck by lesser strikers. Further, Barboza’s speed and cardio have started to dwindle with age. Meanwhile, Yusuff has looked better than ever recently. I think the fight will be close early, Barboza may even win rounds 1 or 2. But, outside of an early knockout, I expect Yusuff’s youth, cardio, and consistency to propel him to a victory.

Best Bet: Yusuff to win (-165)

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