Lee to Get Back on Track in UFC Lightweight Battle vs. Barboza

Andreas Hale

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 1:48 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 18, 2018 1:48 PM UTC

Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza meet in the main event on Saturday's UFC card, but that is only one of several matchups that have betting value. Let's look for some winning wagers.

UFC: Fight Night 128

UFC’s lightweight division might be in a bit of turmoil, but Saturday hopes to bring a little more clarity to the rankings with 155-pounders Kevin Lee and Edson Barboza headlining Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The card features several other bouts with betting value, including a rematch between Cub Swanson an Frankie Edgar, and a middleweight battle between former WSOF two-division champion David Branch and Thiago Santos.

Kevin Lee vs. Edson BarbozaFree UFC Picks: Lee -135 and 'Over' 2.5 Rounds -134Best Lines Offered: Pinnacle

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Edson Barboza and Kevin Lee are looking to get back on the winning track. Barboza is coming off a complete bell-to-bell beatdown from Khabib Nurmagomedov, while Lee was stopped in the third round of his interim lightweight title fight with Tony Ferguson. It’s really a matter of who you think can bounce back.

Lee enters as a decent favorite at -145 on the UFC odds board, with Barboza a narrow underdog at +125. Lee is still relatively young and has a higher ceiling, while Barboza may have plateaued at 32. However, Barboza has the stronger resume, and his three straight victories against Beneil Dariush, Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis were quite the impressive stretch until he faced Nurmagomedov. To be honest, the jury is still out on Lee. He wasn’t necessarily championship ready when he faced Ferguson, with a controversial submission victory over Michael Chiesa being his lone standout win. However, this is really about bouncing back from a loss and Barboza took far more physical abuse from Nurmagomedov than Lee did against Ferguson. The beating Barboza took likely snatched some years off his career. It’s not unimaginable that he could bounce back, but fighters in their 30s that take that kind of beating rarely do (i.e., Junior dos Santos).

We all know what Barboza brings to the table with his elite striking anchored by leg kicks and a solid takedown defense. But the 25-year-old Lee is still developing his skills to back his exceptional wrestling ability. As long as Lee doesn’t play a fool's game and attempt to trade with Barboza, he should be able to take a decision victory home. There is some hesitation with the line but Lee has the bigger upside and is worth the value.

As for the over/under, unless Barboza catches Lee cold early, this fight should go for the long haul. With the "over 2.5 rounds" at -135 and the "under" at +115, taking a swing at the "over" with your UFC picks is the perfect way to double down and cover your assets in case Barboza wins a decision.

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Cub Swanson vs. Frankie EdgarFree UFC Pick: 'Under' 2.5 Rounds +265Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Frankie Edgar is hurrying himself back after being suffering a stunning first-round knockout at the hands of Brian Ortega a little over a month ago. His opponent is a familiar one in Cub Swanson, whom he submitted in the fifth round in 2014 (and also lost to Ortega in his last fight). There is some curiosity regarding Edgar’s quick turnaround and the fact he’s 36 years old. But Swanson has been in quite a few wars and hasn’t shown much improvement since the last time Edgar rolled him over nearly four years ago.

Oddsmakers agree and have Edgar as a hefty favorite at -230 UFC odds board while Swanson is a significant underdog at +190. If nothing else, follow the Edgar trend: He only loses to title contenders or champions. Swanson is neither and considering that Edgar owned him in their first fight, the same result should happen in the rematch. However, the lingering thought of Edgar being stopped for the first time in his career and making a quick turnaround at 36 gives me some trepidation with such a wide line. This is a hard pass.

However, the over/under of 2.5 rounds might be something that you want to move on with your UFC picks. On the surface, this certainly looks like a fight that should stretch into the deeper rounds and it’s likely to yield a decision. The "over" is pegged at -325 with the "under" at +265. And that number is climbing.

However, there are some things here that suggest this fight could end in less than 12 minutes. Edgar and Swanson are familiar with each other from their previous fight. There won’t be much feeling out and Swanson knows, more than anything else, that letting Edgar get into a groove will be bad news. Also, both fighters were stopped in their last fight. With the featherweight division needing a new top contender, both will want to make a statement and should be willing to take a risk. Neither fighter has to worry about their job so it should allow them to throw caution to the wind. Although Edgar rarely finishes opponents in less than two rounds (only Chad Mendes and Matt Veach suffered this fate in the past decade), he’s capable. But, perhaps most important is that Swanson saw what happened in the Ortega fight and should immediately see what Edgar has left in the opening minutes.

I’m not saying throw the farm at it, but if you have some extra money that you considered on a line that was a bit more narrow, it wouldn’t hurt to add some coins to the "under." Just don’t break the bank doing it.

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