MMA Record: 16-3
UFC Record: 9-2
Notable Wins: Michael Chiesa, Francisco Trinaldo
Notable Losses: Tony Ferguson, Al Iaquinta
Last Fight: Submission loss to Tony Ferguson
Fighter Profile: Lee is one of the top young fighters in the UFC’s lightweight division. Only 25, Lee already has ample UFC experience and has picked up a number of quality wins including a submission win over Chiesa that landed him his spot in the top-10. Lee is a very good grappler with improving standup and considering how young he is shoud only continue to improve from here. His striking is still a work in progress and generally that’s what’s cost him in his losses, including a disappointing KO loss to Leonardo Santos, but overall he is a very solid fighter who should stay near the top at 155lbs for a long time.
MMA Record: 19-5
UFC Record: 13-5
Notable Wins: Anthony Pettis, Beneil Dariush, Paul Felder
Notable Losses: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Michael Johnson, Donald Cerrone
Last Fight: Decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov
Fighter Profile: Arguably the best striker in the UFC lightweight division, Barboza has been exciting fans of the sport since making his UFC debut back in 2010. He’s picked up 13 wins inside the Octagon with six of those wins coming by knockout, mostly via his kicks. Barboza is an extremely talented standup artist and generally has solid takedown defense that allows him to keep his fights standing and batter his opponent on the feet. His chin has let him down a few times in the past but overall has held up fairly nicely considering how many heavy hitters he’s fought. He is coming off of a one-sided loss to Nurmagomedov but a win here over Lee would put him back where he was in the division before that bout, which is near the top of his weight class and closing in on a title shot.
Fight Breakdown: I think this is a good fight on paper and I expect it to be a leading contender for “Fight of the Night” considering there’s 25 minutes to work with here. That being said, I favor Barboza to get the win here. Despite how poor his takedown defense looked against Nurmagomedov, the champ would do that to most other lightweights in the division so it’s hard to take away too much from that. Generally, Barboza has really solid takedown defense, and Lee’s gameplan will surely be to take this fight to the ground as he won’t want to stand and trade with Barboza. But I feel like that’s what is going to end up happening here as I see this fight taking place primarily on the feet, where there is a large gap in terms of skills and in terms of finishing power. We’ve seen time and time again how dangerous Barboza is with his kicks and this fight shouldn’t be any different. I feel like Barboza keeps this fight standing, gets the best of Lee on the feet, and finishes him with strikes within the five rounds.
Prediction: Edson Barboza via TKO