The UFC Fight Night: Strickland vs. Hall main card will kick off with a battle of the welterweights. Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena has always been a fan favorite, and he will attempt to put on the show against powerful wrestler Jason “The Vanilla Gorilla” Witt.
Very few fighters have ever been willing to trade with Barberena, but when they do fans have been subject to all-time great wars. Often choosing to go out on his shield rather than securing a safe decision, Barberena has secured two “Fight of the Night” bonuses. One of which saw him become the closest man to snap Vicente Luque’s four-fight win streak in 2019. He also made a name for himself by derailing the train that was Sage Northcutt in 2016. Win or lose, Barberena is famous for creating moments fans love, and rising to the occasion, on Saturday look for him to attempt to do so once again.
Jason Witt by comparison has not been in the UFC long enough to have matched this legacy. His 2-1 UFC record is misguided, having jumped directly into the wolf’s den by taking on Takashi Sato in his debut as a late replacement. Although getting caught quickly in that match-up, Witt rebounded with a dominant win against Cole Williams, where long fans of the Kansas native finally saw him fight to the potential he’s shown outside the UFC.
He is most recently coming off a quick loss once again, where he was unable to demonstrate his capabilities. However, his goal to rebound is not unfamiliar territory and he is as motivated as ever to prove himself.
Barberena vs. Witt betting odds
With a far longer UFC career behind him, the experienced Bryan Barberena comes in as the significant favorite at -270, with Witt playing the role of the underdog.
Barberena vs. Witt breakdown
As stated before, few would look to trade with Bryan Barberena. This holds true, so don’t expect Witt to entertain this area of the fight for very long. Barberena is a gritty fighter who thrives in technical chaos. While those less familiar with the intricacies of fighting may see a man willing to ‘slug it out,’ his ability to mix it up sets him apart. If he finds himself opposite a rocked opponent, Barberena jumps on the opportunity like a bat out of hell. He has quick hands and uses diverse combos, hooks, crosses, and uppercuts in order to attack from all angles.
He is also one of the very best at mixing in hammer fists on the feet to broaden his striking even further. Yet, his best weapon against Witt may be his leg kicks, which if used properly could take Witt out of his game.
Witt is not only a great wrestler but he is a particularly high-impact wrestler. Rather than simply taking his opponents down, he will go out of his way to look for high amplitude takedowns that rock his opponents and do damage. This also often allows him to secure heavy positions instantly as his opponents process the impact.
By going to the leg kicks, Barberana may be able to offset Witt’s timing and lessen his ability to find his shot. However the danger in this, is if Barberena does not set up these kicks then they become a tool for Witt to get the takedown, so it is important that Barberena hides his kicks behind his diverse boxing combinations.
The threat of Witt’s takedown is evident in this match-up, so in order to get the most out of his striking he needs to take advantage of this. Witt does not have the technical skill to match Barberna shot for shot and he likely won’t win out in volume strikes, but he always has dangerous power. Look for ‘The Vanilla Gorilla’ to fake the double leg in order to come up with his overhand right or uppercuts and hooks. He needs to make Barberan respect his power early, and make the most of shots when he does land.
Barberena vs. Witt Prediction
If I was the oddsmaker for this fight I would have it much closer. At +210, Witt is an extremely valuable bet, and he has the ability to dominate with his wrestling. Logically, I see the reason why Barberena is the betting favorite. He has far greater experience at the highest level, and although both men are mirrored in seven losses apiece, most of Barberena’s losses have come from bigger names in the sport.
Ultimately, however, I think the stylistic advantage goes to Witt. He has the ability to shut out the most dangerous aspect of Barberena’s game and not entertain these areas. If he can do so, I can see Witt finding the route to victory.
Prediction: Jason Witt by third-round submission or decision
Braeden Arbour is an aspiring journalist out of Ontario, Canada. He is a recent graduate of Trent University, with a black belt in Karate and a blue belt in Judo. He has also been an avid fan of MMA for the last decade.