Edson Barboza and Bryce Mitchell will face each other on this weekend’s UFC 272: Covington vs. Masvidal PPV main card.
Barboza, 36, currently sits with a 22-10 professional record. He has 14 wins by finish and has been finished 6 times himself. Mitchell, 27, who returns for the first time since October of 2020, is an impressive 14-0 overall and 5-0 in the UFC. Nine of his wins have come by submission.
Despite getting his first ranked fight and coming off an injury, Mitchell is the favorite over Barboza.
- Mitchell: -150
- Barboza: +120
At this point in his illustrious career, most people know who Barboza is and what he does well. The #10 ranked featherweight is a powerful and quick-twitch athlete with some of the most explosive striking in the division. Barboza’s check left hook might be his best punch, a strike thrown in the blink of an eye and with the stopping power of a truck. But, what makes Barboza’s game so special are his violent kicks. Even at 36 years old, Barboza is able to land snapping calf kicks, body kicks, and highlight-reel head kicks. Offensively, Barboza is still one of the fastest and most lethal strikers in the division. Defensively, Barboza’s reactions have slowed with age and he has become more hittable. In the clinch or while defending takedowns, Barboza has also struggled more as he’s aged. However, his long frame still allows him to spread his legs, plant his feet, and make takedowns challenging. Further, once on the mat, Barboza is adept at scrambling and getting back up without sacrificing much time on his back.
Where Barboza is an athletic striker, Mitchell is a strong and smothering wrestler. Mitchell, on the feet, is serviceable. Offensively, he has a solid jab that allows him to prod forward and find a range he’s looking for, from here, instead of throwing a combination, he’ll shoot a takedown. “Thug” averages 3.3 takedowns per fight but lands them at a 46% clip. Because of his insane ground ability, Mitchell is happy to shoot for a takedown before the opening is full presented. Then, if he can secure it, even if he isn’t in an ideal position, he has the fight in his world. More often than not, once Mitchell is on top, the round or even the fight will likely end. He can control his opponent for impressively long stretches while still hunting submissions. Further, his submission game is varied and dangerous. He’s one of only two UFC fighters to ever win a fight by “twister submission.” To put it simply, Mitchell has some of the best wrestling, grappling, and submissions in the division. His biggest obstacle is surviving long enough on his feet to get the fight to the mat.
In this fight, I see the X-Factor being Mitchell’s striking defense; he’s been touched by lesser strikers before. If he’s touched by Barboza, which I expect to happen early, he won’t remain standing. Watch for a head kick or heavy left hook to stun Mitchell and Barboza to follow with a barrage of strikes for the finish.
Prediction: Barboza by knockout
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.