UFC on ESPN 2 - Philadelphia Breakdown & Prediction
When is UFC on ESPN 2? Saturday 30th March, 2019 – 23:00 (UK)
Where is UFC on ESPN 2? Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
What channel is UFC on ESPN 2? BT Sport 2
Where can I stream UFC on ESPN 2? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website
For viewers in the United States, the game will be shown live and you can take advantage of a free trial with ESPN+ and subscribe now by clicking here!
Are tickets still available for UFC on ESPN 2? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket-info?utm_source=ufc&utm_medium=tab&utm_campaign=tickets
Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje
The UFC are doing their best to impress the ESPN brass by headlining their second card with two of the most exciting and ferocious strikers in the lightweight division. Edson Barboza and Justin Gaethje meet in Philadelphia with contrasting techniques but the same violent intentions.
Barboza is a technical striker from a Muay Thai and Taekwondo background. He has some of the most dangerous kicks in the UFC and after two recent losses against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee, he looked back to his best in a more favourable match-up against against Dan Hooker who lasted nearly three rounds of brutal punishment.
Gaethje also bounced back from two losses by knocking James Vick out cold in his last fight. This was after two wars with Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier and although these were the first losses of his career, his stock is still high as all his fights are exhilarating. In his four UFC fights, he has earned two fights of the year, one fight of the night and one performance of the night. No wonder he is on the ESPN card.
This is destined to be a merciless exchange that won’t last the five rounds. Gaethje’s aggression and willingness to trade has helped him rack up 16 knockouts but it has also made him liable to absorbing damage which you cannot afford to do against Barboza.
Gaethje has not called upon his grappling skills yet in the UFC which is baffling considering he is a NCAA Division 1 calibre wrestler. Wrestling has also been the only effective method in stifling Barboza’s elite stand-up skills so you would think Gaethje would plan to take the Brazilian down.
However, what has made Gaethje a huge fan-favourite is that he does not care about game plans and simply wants to throw bombs and leg kicks. However, if he abandons his grappling again, Barboza will chew him up with all eight limbs.
Winner: Barboza via KO/TKO
David Branch vs Jack Hermansson
David Branch arrives to Philadelphia for his fifth UFC fight and is hoping for his third win. He entered the UFC as the WSOF middleweight and light heavyweight champion so inevitably had a target on his back. He scraped past Krzysztof Jotko on his debut but then was outclassed by Luke Rockhold. He bounced back with a superb and somewhat surprising knockout win over Thiago Santos but suffered the same fate against Jared Cannonier in his most recent outing.
Jack Hermansson in 5-2 in the UFC and has made a habit out of putting on exciting fights, with him yet to go to a decision in the UFC. After getting knocked out by Santos, the Swede bounced back with a knockout of his own over the veteran Thales Leites and brilliantly submitted Gerald Meerschaert in his last fight.
Branch is excellent on the floor as a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but Hermansson is a powerful wrestler so their grappling may cancel each other out, forcing most of the fight on the feet which will suit them as they are both technical strikers with knockout power.
This fight could go either way but Hermansson’s aggression will be crucial to landing first. Branch is more composed but if he takes Hermansson too lightly he may get caught and the Swede has the power to end the fight in a flash.
Winner: Hermansson via KO/TKO
Josh Emmett vs Michael Johnson
Josh Emmett makes his return to the cage after nearly a year out after recovering from some terrible injuries courtesy of Jeremy Stephens. In their fight back in February, Stephens finished Emmett with brutal strikes, including an illegal knee which left Emmett with multiple facial fractures. Fortunately, he is healed up and ready for another battle.
Michael Johnson seems to have got over his rut of losses with two well-earned decisions over Andre Fili and Artem Lobov. Johnson has fought a who’s who of lightweight animals and felt the wrath of the ever-growing standard of UFC contenders but he is looking to regain the form that made him a top contender with wins over the likes of Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier.
This will be a question of which version of Michael Johnson turns up. He has all the skill and experience to put Emmett away but if he does not perform near his best he will be in for a long night.
This fight is likely to be as close as the stats suggest. They are very evenly-matched but the experience of Johnson may just help him grind out a decision.
Winner: Johnson via Decision
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson
Karolina Kowalkiewicz is looking to brush herself off after suffering one of the most brutal knockouts in strawweight history. One-punch knockouts are rare in the division but last September, she was flatlined by a Jessica Andrade bomb. Now, she needs to get past another top contender in the hope of starting another run for the title.
Michelle Waterson looks back to her best after losing to Rose Namajunas and Tecia Torres. She went on to earn decisions over Cortney Casey and Felice Herrig and is determined to continue her own run for gold and become the first Mum to win a coveted UFC belt.
This fight will be a showcase of talent. Kowalkiewicz is a phenomenal striker from a Muay Thai background and Waterson is also an experienced and dynamic striker with a Karate background.
It will be an even contest on the feet but the difference may come in Waterson’s grappling. She is a strong wrestler with a slick submission game and will be wise to avoid Kowalkiewicz’s strengths by getting her to the ground and keeping her there. Whatever happens, it will be a close fight where the judges are likely to be called upon.
Winner: Waterson via Decision
Paul Craig vs Kennedy Nechukwu
Paul Craig arrived at the UFC with a lot of promise and stretched his unbeaten record on his debut with the eighth submission win of his career. However, he experienced the step-up in competition as he suffered knockouts at the hands of Tyson Pedro and Khalil Rountree. The Scot bounced back with another incredible submission in the last second of his fight with Magomed Ankalaev but then Jim Crute gave him a taste of his own medicine in his last outing.
Now, it is Kennedy Nzechukwu’s turn to face the UFC standard after earning a contract by finishing Dennis Bryant on Dana White’s Contender Series. Nzechukwu has only had six professional fights but is unbeaten and looks like another light heavyweight prospect.
This is a classic striker vs grappler match-up. Craig is extremely dangerous on the ground and Nzechukwu is a hugely athletic, standing at 6’5” with speed and power.
If the young Nigerian can avoid the takedowns, you have to back him to find the knockout but Craig will be well aware of the threats and will have a strategy to get Nzechukwu to the ground. If he succeeds, it will be a matter of time before he wraps up a submission.
Winner: Craig via Submission
Sheymon Moraes vs Sodiq Yusuff
Sheymon Moraes is desperate to live up to his potential and fight more frequently. He only has two losses on his record and they were against Marlon Moraes who has torn up the bantamweight division and Zabit Magomedsharipov who is touted as the biggest prospect in the UFC. After losing his debut to Magomedsharipov, Moraes went on to win two decisions against Matt Sayles and Julio Arce.
Sodiq Yusuff is a prospect in his own right with only one loss on his record. He earnt a UFC contract with a decision over Mike Davis on Dana White’s Contender Series and impressed with a superb knockout finish over Suman Mokhtarian in his last fight.
This is likely to be a very fast-paced stand-up battle. Yusuff’s statistics are based on his one UFC fight but he will approach this fight just as aggressively. However, Moraes is a different class on the feet as a multiple-time national kickboxing and Muay Thai champion and if he doesn’t find the finish, he is likely to outpoint the young American.
Winner: Moraes via Decision
Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric