UFC Fight Night 128: Barboza vs Lee Preview

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After a great card in Glendale last weekend, the UFC returns again this Saturday with a Fight Night card in Atlantic City, headlined by lightweights Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee.

Both men are coming off losses in their last contests, but considering it was against arguably the two best fighters in the division, this is still an important fight at 155 pounds.

Barboza was mauled by new lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 219 in December, but is still one of the best striker's in the whole organisation, finishing 11 of his professional wins via knockout.

The Brazilian, who trains under Mark Henry, has an extensive Muay Thai background, and has recorded impressive wins over Anthony Pettis, Paul Felder and Beneil Dariush inside the octagon.

The only criticism that has been made of the 32-year-old is that he loses the big, career-defining fights, shown by the defeats to Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone, who were all top ranked contenders.

Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza

Lee is ranked seventh in the UFC Lightweight rankings, and is coming off a loss to Ferguson in the main event of UFC 216 in October, which was contested for the interim title.

The 25-year-old fought admirably and had some real moments of success, but ultimately Ferguson got a submission victory in the third round.

Lee has star potential, with his skills on the microphone and fashion sense making him a fan favourite already.

'The Motown Phenom' is a great wrestler, having gone 37-0 as a senior at university, and he will have to call on those skills again against Barboza.

If the fight remains standing, Barboza has a major advantage, but if Lee can control his opponent and get him to the ground like Nurmagomedov was able to do, then it is his fight to lose.

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In the co-main event, Frankie Edgar returns just over a month after his knockout loss to Brian Ortega at UFC 222.

He faces Cub Swanson, who he defeated via submission in a main event back in November 2014.

If it were normal circumstances, I would heavily favour Edgar to record another victory, but the fact he has taken just six weeks off after the first stoppage loss of his career is a worry.

Since his loss to Edgar, Swanson has gone 4-2, picking up wins over Hacran Dias, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Doo Ho Choi and Artem Lobov, but suffered two big defeats to featherweight champion Max Holloway and last time out against Ortega.

If Edgar can show that the short break hasn't affected his ability and he is in the right frame of mind to fight again so quickly, then he will be favourite to win the fight.

Edgar beat Yair Rodriguez in 2017 Edgar beat Yair Rodriguez in 2017

Also on the main card, there is a fantastic bantamweight fight between Aljamain Sterling and Brett Johns.

Sterling started his UFC with three consecutive wins, but has fallen on hard times recently, losing three of his last five, against top contenders Bryan Caraway, Raphael Assuncao and Marlon Moraes.

The 28-year-old is still ranked eighth in the 135 pound division, and will be looking to make amends after a vicious first round knockout against Moraes in his last fight in December.

This will be the biggest fight of Johns' career to date, who is coming off a highly impressive calf slicer submission against Joe Soto five months ago.

The Welshman has amassed an undefeated record of 15-0, dominating on the British circuit before signing with the UFC, where he has picked up three victories.

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The 26-year-old is ranked 14th, and this fight is interesting because of the differing momentums, with one man on the crest of a wave, while the other talented fighter is trying to fight his way back into contention.

Opening the main card, Dan Hooker will take on veteran Jim Miller in his home state of New Jersey.

After going 3-3 in his first six UFC fights, Hooker has recorded back-to-back wins for the first time, following up his knockout victory over Ross Pearson with a submission success against Marc Diakiese in December.

In his 15 professional wins, the New Zealander has won inside the distance on 14 occasions, so fights involving 'Hangman' are always exciting.

Miller is a legend of mixed martial arts, first joining the UFC back in October 2008, and has fought some of the best fighters in the lightweight division in the last decade, including Dustin Poirier, Donald Cerrone and Benson Henderson.

Miller during his last fight against Francisco Trinaldo Miller during his last fight against Francisco Trinaldo

The 34-year-old has struggled of late, losing three consecutive fights for the first time in his career, and will be desperate to get back to winning ways in front of his home crowd.

The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will look to get the fight to the ground, having picked up 13 of his 28 professional wins via submission.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 128 FULL CARD

MAIN CARD

Edson Barboza vs Kevin Lee

Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson

Chase Sherman vs Justin Willis

David Branch vs Thiago Santos

Aljamain Sterling vs Brett Johns

Jim Miller vs Dan Hooker

PRELIMS

Ryan LaFlare vs Alex Garcia

Magomed Bibulatov vs Ulka Sasaki

Siyar Bahadurzada vs Luan Chagas

Corey Anderson vs Pat Cummins

Leslie Smith vs Aspen Ladd

Merab Dvalishvili vs Ricky Simon

Tony Martin vs Keita Nakamura

Words: Johnny Morton

Images: PA

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