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UFC Fight Night Philadelphia: Barboza vs Gaethje Odds and Picks

UFC Fight Night Philadelphia: Betting Odds and Pick

For the first time in nearly eight years, the Octagon will be set up at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia this Saturday and the card is headlined with two lightweight knockout artists. Both Edson “Junior” Barboza and Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje are looking for back-to-back wins and Barboza is a -140 favorite with Gaethje coming back at +110. I have a breakdown and a pick for each fight on the main card.

Shark Bites
  • Sixteen of Justin Gaethje’s 19 professional wins have come by knockout.
  • Edson Barboza has three wins ending in leg kick TKOs.
  • Justin Gaethje absorbs 10.54 significant strikes per minute.

Barboza vs Gaethje Fight Center

Scott Hastings’ 2019 Prediction Record To Date
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Edson Barboza vs Justin Gaethje

Barboza (-140) is looking for consecutive wins for the first time since he won three in a row from 2016 to 2017. Following that three-fight winning streak, Junior suffered back-to-back losses to now lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Kevin Lee, but earned a third-round knockout over Dan Hooker in December.

The Brazil native has absolutely ridiculous kicks that have resulted in three victories by leg kicks. With these vicious kicks, his opponents have difficulties moving around the Octagon and have less pop on their strikes because they can’t plant for power. Additionally, the lower-leg kicks open up head strikes as his opponents flinch low and he goes high with a kick or punch.

Gaethje (+110) has been wildly exciting since joining the UFC in 2017 and is looking for his first winning streak in the Octagon. The Highlight earned a second-round knockout win over Michael Johnson in his UFC debut but followed up with back-to-back knockout losses to Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier before getting back in the win column with a first-round knockout of James Vick in August of last year.

The 30-year-old puts on highly entertaining fights, willing to stand and trade with every one of his opponents. Due to this phone booth style of fighting, he dishes out and absorbs a ton of damage, averaging 8.53 significant strikes per minute while absorbing 10.54 significant strikes. Of his 21 professional fights, 18 have ended in a knockout, with his hand being raised in 16 of those instances. Like his opponent Barboza, Gaethje has three fights won by leg kicks as he has a very similar approach.

This should be a brawl between two vicious strikers most known for their kicks. I give the edge to Barboza when it comes to overall kicking power but may lean toward Gaethje in overall toughness. Both of these warriors throw their strikes with intentions to kill and I would be shocked if this bout went the full five rounds.

Prediction: Edson Barboza (-140) via knockout

Barboza vs Gaethje Fight Center

David Branch vs Jack Hermansson

Branch (+105) is riding a win-one, lose-one streak over his last four bouts, with his two losses over that span coming by knockout. Prior to this current streak, the New York native had rattled off 11 straight wins, with four of those victories coming by submission and one by knockout. Overall, Branch has a 22-5 record with 13 of his 22 wins being finishes, six by knockout and seven by submission.

The 37-year-old moves really well, but will often drop his hands when he’s engaging with his opponents. He likes to pressure his opponents and tosses out a distance-judging jab but is really looking for his opponents to throw a strike so he can counter with his powerful right hand. I find if you weather the storm in the first round, Branch slows as the fight progresses.

Hermansson (-135) is looking for his first-ever three-fight winning streak in the UFC. This is the eighth walk to the Octagon for “The Joker.” Each of his last six fights have been finishes and he holds a 5-2 record in the UFC with three wins coming by knockout. Overall, the Sweden native has an 18-4 record with 11 wins by knockout and four by submission.

The 30-year-old is an aggressive fighter who is really well-rounded on the floor or in the standup department. He sets his hands up well with strong kicks and on the mat he has a fantastic ability to transition from guard to mount seemingly at will before he rains down vicious ground and pound.

This should be an interesting chess match between two very well-rounded fighters who have the ability to finish the fight via knockout or submission. Both fighters like to be the aggressor, but Branch doesn’t typically throw the first punch when in striking range, while Hermansson does. I also think The Joker has the better striking defense.

Prediction: Jack Hermansson (-135) via knockout

Branch vs Hermansson Fight Center

Josh Emmett vs Michael Johnson

Emmett (-110) is looking to get back in the win column after having his two-fight winning streak snapped last time out against Jeremy Stephens. The 34-year-old has a 4-2 record in the UFC with three of those victories coming by decision and the fourth by knockout. Most recently, he was knocked out in the second round vs Stephens in February of last year.

The California native does a lot of bouncing around, moving side to side fluently, but he’s often quite hesitant to let his hands go. When he finally does throw punches, he overextends with his lead left but has a nice powerful and accurate right hand behind the somewhat sloppy left. With his great movement, though, he is able to make his opponents miss 63 percent of their strike attempts.

Johnson (-120) is seeking his first three-fight win streak since he won four in a row from 2013 to 2015. Following his four straight wins, “The Menace” had lost five of six fights, including a third-round submission loss to current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. Since moving to featherweight at the beginning of last year, Johnson is 2-1, including back-to-back decision wins, most recently earning a unanimous-decision win over Artem Lobov.

The 32-year-old stands a little flat-footed, which I think hinders his movement a little bit, but that’s because he likes to get in standup wars with his opponents. On the floor, Johnson has had his difficulties, with eight of his 13 professional losses coming by submission, while on the feet, he has eight knockouts and has only been knocked out once.

Emmett is a lot more active on the feet, constantly moving around the Octagon, and does a good job with his head movement to make his opponents miss. On the other hand, Johnson doesn’t typically move around a lot and lets his foes come to him where he can throw his hands. I’m not sure how much power the Menace still has as he only has one knockout win over his last 10 fights.

Prediction: Josh Emmett (-110) via decision

Emmett vs Johnson Fight Center

Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Michelle Waterson

Kowalkiewicz (-155) is back in action for the first time since her devastating first-round knockout loss to Jessica Andrade at UFC 228 in September of last year. The Poland native was riding a two-fight winning streak before that defeat in what was a No. 1 contender fight to face current strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. Kowalkiewicz beat Namajunas by a split decision at UFC 201 in 2016.

The 33-year-old is a fantastic point fighter, constantly moving forward and touching her opponents, but doesn’t have tremendous punching power. She does a great job of not overreacting when she is tagged by punches, which goes a long way in the judges’ minds. Kowalkiewicz does a lot of her best work in the clinch where she uses great knees, elbows and short hooks. Additionally, she defends 87 percent of takedowns, forcing her opponents to stand with her, which will be critical for this fight.

Waterson (+125) is getting her second shot at a three-fight winning streak inside the Octagon after going 2-0 in 2018. “The Karate Hottie” opened last year with a split-decision win over Cortney Casey and followed that up with a unanimous-decision win over Felice Herrig at UFC 229. This occurred after a bad 2017 in which she went 0-2, including a second-round submission loss to Rose Namajunas.

The 33-year-old showed a great striking ability in her last time out against Herrig without landing a takedown for the first time in her UFC career. As her nickname suggests, Waterson likes to strike from kicking range in her calm karate stance and if you pressure her a lot, she will take the fight to the floor. She lands 62 percent of her strikes thrown for an average of 3.49 significant strikes per minute.

A real clash of styles in the standup department as Waterson elects to set up in her karate stance where she uses long kicks and great footwork to get out of her opponents’ range. Meanwhile, Kowalkiewicz likes to close the distance for more clinch striking with elbows and knees. I think the Karate Hottie would have the advantage if the fight hits the floor, but the Poland native has a great takedown defense.

Prediction: Karolina Kowalkiewicz (-155) via decision

Kowalkiewicz vs Waterson Fight Center

Paul Craig vs Kennedy Nzechukwu

Craig (+140) is still looking to find his footing in the UFC as he has dropped three of his five fights, including a third-round submission loss his last time out to Jim Crute. Prior to fighting in the UFC, “Bearjew” was a perfect 8-0 with seven wins coming by submission and one by knockout. It has been a different story in the Octagon as he is 2-3 with his three defeats all being finishes, two by knockout and one by submission.

The Scotland native is very light on his feet and has some good kicks. That being said, his main objective is to get the fight to the floor so he can work toward a submission. Due to his lightness in the standup, he is very quick at changing levels and securing takedowns, but he has only hit 30 percent of his attempts in the Octagon, though his two wins in the UFC were submissions.

Nzechukwu (-170) is making his Octagon debut after earning a contract from his first-round knockout victory over Dennis Bryant in the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series last August. The “African Savage” brings into the cage a perfect 6-0 record with four wins coming by knockout and two by submission. Each of his last three wins has been by knockout.

The 26-year-old is big for the light heavyweight division, standing six-foot-five, and has an 82-inch reach that he uses extremely well. Nzechukwu is a patient fighter who doesn’t use a lot of extra movement and just slowly marches his opponents down, forcing them to swing at him while he counters with powerful strikes. In his DWTNCS win over Bryant, he was in punching range when he snuck a powerful head kick over the top to sleep his opponent.

We have a classic striker vs grappler match in this bout. Craig is going to do everything he can to drag this fight to the mat and secure a submission, while Nzechukwu is going to try to keep his distance and look for the knockout. I think the African Savage is going to be noticeably bigger in this fight and I think Bearjew is going to have a difficult time closing the distance.

Prediction: Kennedy Nzechukwu (-170) via knockout

Craig vs Nzechukwu Fight Center

Sheymon Moraes vs Sodiq Yusuff

Moraes (+120) is looking to collect his third straight win in the UFC after going 2-0 in 2018. The Brazil native began his UFC career with a fight against the ever-dangerous Zabit Magomedsharipov and was submitted in the third round of that fight. Moraes followed that defeat up with two decision victories, most recently earning a split vs Julio Arce at UFC 230.

The 28-year-old has great power in his hands and has a good ability to find his opponents’ chin on his lead straights. Additionally, if his foes don’t pressure him, he has strong kicks that he will go high with seeking the knockout. As his fights go longer, his forward pressure subsides and he tends to not be first to the punch anymore and he’s then susceptible to being picked apart.

Yusuff (-150) is looking to remain undefeated in the UFC after earning a quick, first-round knockout over Suman Mokhtarian in his debut in December. “Super” had a 7-1 overall record prior to joining the UFC, including a unanimous-decision win over Mike Davis in the Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. Of Yusuff’s eight professional wins, five have come by knockout and three by decision, while his only loss also came by knockout.

The Nigeria native is a fantastic counter-striker who has a great ability to anticipate when his opponent is going to throw a strike and then fires powerful strikes of his own looking to beat his opponent to the punch. He has a lightning-quick lead right hook that has a lot of power behind it and has strong kicks as well that slow his foes down in the later rounds.

Two heavy hitters are set to kick the main card off with a combined record of 19-3 and 10 wins coming by knockout – there will surely be some fireworks in this bout. Yusuff is the better-conditioned fighter in my opinion but I think Moraes will be a handful for the first round. Additionally, I expect Super to beat Moraes to the punch more times than not and his strikes will add up the longer this fight lasts.

Prediction: Sodiq Yusuff (-150) via knockout

Moraes vs Yusuff Fight Center

Here’s a look at the entire list of odds for UFC Fight Night Philadelphia: Barboza vs Gaethje:

UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Gaethje Betting Odds
  • Edson Barboza -140
  • Justin Gaethje +110
Odds as of March 30 at Bovada
  • David Branch +105
  • Jack Hermansson -135
  • Josh Emmett -110
  • Michael Johnson -120
  • Karolina Kowalkiewicz -155
  • Michelle Waterson +125
  • Paul Craig +140
  • Kennedy Nzechukwu -170
  • Sheymon Moraes +120
  • Sodiq Yusuff -150
  • Ross Pearson +325
  • Desmond Green -450
  • Enrique Barzola -125
  • Kevin Aguilar -105
  • Kevin Holland -190
  • Gerald Meerschaert +155
  • Maryna Moroz +125
  • Sabina Mazo -155
  • Alex Perez -350
  • Mark De La Rosa +265
  • Ray Borg -250
  • Casey Kenney +205
  • Jessica Aguilar +260
  • Marina Rodriguez -340