An intriguing lightweight encounter taking place at UFC on FOX 9 this weekend is a matchup between exciting striker Edson “Junior” Barboza and takedown artist Danny “Last Call” Castillo. The current betting line for this bout at Several Bookmakers sees Barboza as a -320 betting favorite (bet $320 to win $100) and Castillo as a +240 dog (bet $100 to win $240). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Barboza as a -315 favorite and Castillo as a +235 dog, meaning there has been slight early action on the favorite Barboza. I agree with the betting public here as I am also picking Barboza to win this fight. Here’s why. Barboza (12-1) is one of the most vicious muay Thai strikers in the UFC today. The 27-year-old Brazilian is the only fighter in the history of the UFC to win two fights via TKO (leg kicks), and the only fighter to win a fight via spinning wheel kick KO, which he did so at Terry Etim at UFC 142 in what I still believe is the greatest knockout ever witnessed inside the Octagon. Standing 6-1 thus far in his UFC run, Barboza has collected solid wins over Ross Pearson, Anthony Njokunai, Mike Lullo, Rafaello Oliveira, Lucas Martins and Etim, with his lone loss coming to Jamie Varner at UFC 146. The loss to Varner was an absolute shocker, but it was an important learning experience for the young Barboza because it showed him that if he wants to take the next step in his career he has to work on his wrestling. And since then, he’s did just that by travelling to New York to work with former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar on his takedown defence. Against Castillo, there is no doubt that Barboza’s takedown defense will be put to the test, and we’ll all get to see if his hard work training with Edgar has paid off. If he’s able to stop Castillo’s shots, then he will light up his opponent on the feet, but if he gets taken down and controlled, he will most likely lose a decision. Castillo (16-5) is one of the better wrestlers in the UFC lightweight division. The 34-year-old has a 6-2 record in the UFC with wins over Tim Means, Paul Sass, John Cholish, Shamar Bailey, Joe Stevenson and the aforementioned Njokunai, with the only losses coming to Michael Johnson and Jacob Volkmann. A WEC vet, Castillo trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento so this will be a hometown fight for him, which bodes well if his gameplan is to score takedowns on Barboza and hold him on the mat. But if he tries to put on a show for his friends and family and attempts to stand and bang with “Junior,” then he could be in serious trouble. Although Castillo has definitely made improvements in his striking, he is still a work in progress and this is a tough fight for him if he can’t get it to the floor. Although Castillo is an excellent wrestler, I believe Barboza’s work with Edgar on his takedown defense will pay dividends here, and he will be able to stuff Castillo’s takedowns and outstrike him on the feet, possibly even getting a knockout win. At -320, Barboza is just a bit over where I had personally capped him at (-300), so I don’t see value in the current betting line. However, if the line for whatever reason drops I will be looking to make a play on Barboza in a two-team parlay, as I do see him picking up the win as he continues to move up the UFC lightweight ladder.