- What: UFC Vegas 81 Main Event
- Who: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza
- Date: Saturday, October 14, 2023
- Location: UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV
- Time: Prelims (4 p.m. ET) Main Card (7:00 p.m. ET)
- How to Watch: ESPN+
The main event of UFC Vegas 81 features two featherweight competitors who are looking to break into the top 10 of the division. In one corner, UFC veteran Edson Barboza looks to capitalize on his April “Performance of the Night” bonus-winning knockout of Billy Quarantillo. In the other corner is Sodiq Yusuff, who is coming off a layoff of more than a year. Here is some information on the Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza matchup before we discuss the betting breakdown for the UFC Vegas 81 fight card.
Sodiq Yusuff (13-2) is currently the No. 11 fighter in the official UFC featherweight rankings. His run up those rankings hit a snag last year when his originally scheduled opponent for UFC Vegas 61, Giga Chikadze, withdrew from the event. Yusuff submitted late replacement Don Shainis in 30 seconds.
Edson Barboza (23-11) moved from lightweight to featherweight in 2020. Since then, the 37-year-old has put together a 3-3 record with two knockout wins. The UFC vet, he made his promotional debut in 2010, was a betting underdog to Quarantillo in their matchup. The Brazilian scored his 14th career knockout in that contest and moved one spot up the UFC rankings to No. 13.
UFC Vegas 81 main event: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza betting picks
|To Win UFC Vegas 81 Main Event|
UFC Vegas 81 main event: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza betting breakdown
This fight has been a long time coming. Sodiq Yusuff and Edson Barboza were first booked to face each other in October 2020, but Yusuff withdrew from the contest and was replaced by Makwan Amirkhani. At the time of the booking, Barboza was on the longest losing skid of his career with three straight losses. Meanwhile, Yusuff was riding a six-fight winning streak, with four of those victories coming under the UFC banner.
Despite his age and the number of fights he has had, Barboza remains one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC, especially when it comes to his kicking game. Barboza has incredible speed and technique and can mix up his targets with ease. Throughout his career, Barboza has also developed his boxing skills. By no means are his hands as potent as his kicks, but the ability to mix things up makes Barboza a dangerous fighter and a competitor who cannot be overlooked.
Yusuff has been stalled just outside the top 10 of the 145-pound division. The 30-year-old has been holding down the No. 11 spot for a couple of years. A win over Barboza could move the Nigerian-born scrapper into the top 10. A very coachable fighter, who is still improving with every fight under the UFC banner, Yusuff is still looking for his breakout performance inside the Octagon. A patient competitor, who uses pressure effectively, Yusuff is an excellent striker who can push the pace.
UFC Vegas 81 main event: Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza – Who has the edge
In his fight opposite Alex Caceres, Sodiq Yusuff looked to fight in close and not give Caceres the time and space he needed to unload his dynamic striking techniques. That plan worked well and earned Yusuff a decision win. Look for him to take a similar approach against Edson Barboza. The problem with that approach is that Barboza is a wily veteran who won’t be surprised by Yusuff.
If there is a weakness in Yusuff’s approach it’s that he often throws his strikes wide and with a lot of power. That will open him up to be countered by the speedy Barboza, who will also look to slow his opponent through powerful leg kicks.
Yusuff has had long layoffs in his career before, so I’m not overly concerned about the fact that he hasn’t fought in more than a year, but he has never been in a five-round UFC main event, and this fight was initially booked as a three-rounder, so there is some concern about his cardio if this contest goes to the championship rounds.
Overall, Barboza has the edge in this matchup, mainly because he is the better technical fighter and his veteran savvy.
Best Bets: UFC Vegas 81 main event – Sodiq Yusuff vs. Edson Barboza
This is a hard fight to pick. Yusuff is more than capable of winning this contest, and he could win via decision or knockout. If one is leaning toward picking the betting favorite in this matchup, the pick is for Yusuff to win by grinding out a decision via in-close fighting. My pick for this matchup is to go with the betting underdog. Barboza is a deadly striker who can capitalize on the slightest mistake, and Yusuff still makes mistakes. He is not yet a fighter who can naturally flow inside the cage. He relies on his coaches a lot during the action, and while that makes him a very coachable fighter, it also means he struggles to anticipate what’s coming. The betting pick is Edson Barboza to score the upset win via knockout.
Best UFC Vegas 81 Main Event Betting Pick: Edson Barboza to win via knockout.
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