UFC Fight Night 106: Belfort vs. Gastelum Date: March 11, 2017 Arena: Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste City: Fortaleza, Brazil Lightweight bout: Edson Barboza (-185) vs Beneil Dariush (+160) Fight Breakdown: One of the most exciting main-card matchups for UFC Fight Night 106: Belfort vs. Gastelum looks to be a barn-burner in the UFC’s lightweight division between Muay Thai striking phenom Edson Barboza and the Iranian Beneil Dariush. Barboza is a -185 betting favorite ($185 to win $100) heading into this contest, while Dariush is the underdog at +160 ($100 to win $160) at Several Bookmakers. Edson Barboza (18-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) last saw action at UFC on FOX 20 last July, where he earned a unanimous-decision win over Gilbert Melendez to make it two straight wins for himself inside the Octagon. The Brazilian is a very talented Muay Thai striker who has developed excellent defensive wrestling skills. The 31-year-old has an incredible kicking game, and he undoubtedly owns the hardest leg kicks in the lightweight division. He has scored three knockouts via leg kicks, with two of them coming in the UFC. Barboza has beautiful spinning kicks as well, like the highlight-reel spinning heel kick he knocked out Terry Etim with. He often likes to use his spinning back kick and also has a nice spinning roundhouse kick. The Muay Thai specialist mixes it up well on the feet, putting together some excellent and effective combinations. He has a good over-hand right, a solid left hook and a nice uppercut-left hook combination he likes to use. He uses his lead jab really well,and is great at working his range. Training in New Jersey with the likes of Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes, Barboza is well-conditioned and will be prepared for 15 minutes of action, if necessary. Beneil Dariush (14-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) is coming off a unanimous-decision victory over Rashid Magomedov and currently enjoys a two-fight winning streak, including a first-round TKO of James Vick. The 27-year-old is a southpaw who packs a powerful punch and a very effective counter-striker. He is a very talented grappler who works excellent takedowns and has a solid submission game, owning a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Dariush is really good at taking his opponent’s back during an exchange. He also has an excellent guard and is a real threat off of his back. His defensive grappling skills are noteworthy too, as he has good takedown defense and is capable of keeping the fight on the feet. The Californian has a nice straight left, loves to throw kicks and has a variety of them in his arsenal. He also loves to implement his knees, and even has a nice flying knee he likes to go for. Training out of Kings MMA in in Huntington Beach, CA, under the tutelage of striking coach Rafael Cordeiro, Dariush is a very well-rounded mixed martial artist who is generally well-conditioned, so I expect him to have enough in the tank for three rounds of action, should this bout go the distance. Gabe’s Thoughts: I came in favoring Barboza, but after doing my homework, I am leaning Dariush for a play. As for an official pick, I still slightly lean towards Barboza, as he does have a striking advantage, as well as a hometown advantage, which could play a big factor. I think Dariush will find success with his counters in this fight, though I am not sure if it will be enough to lead to a finish or a victory on the scorecards. This is a close fight, and I initially thought I would be betting Barboza, but again, after looking into the fight, I favor the underdog here at +160. Gabe’s Call: Barboza by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Dariush (+160) All of my content and plays are free. Your support is greatly appreciated.