Fight Study (8/28/21)
The UFC’s featherweight division pits two top ten contenders against each other as the 10th ranked contender, Giga Chikadze, meets up with the division’s 9th ranked contender, Edson Barboza, from the Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday. Both fighters are looking to extend their win streaks and Barboza is the narrow favorite to do so. He will carry higher salaries on both DFS platforms and is available for $8,200 on DraftKings and $19 on Fanduel. Chikadze is priced at $8,000 and $18 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight is scheduled for 5 rounds of MMA action, but current odds suggest it will not reach the judges’ scorecards as a -158 favorite to conclude inside the distance.
Chikadze has a professional record of 13-2 with 8 wins by KO/TKO, 1 win by submission, and 4 wins by decision. He is a perfect 6-0 since joining the UFC, and he has back-to-back first-round finishes coming into this fight. Most recently, he needed just 63 seconds to get the TKO win over Cub Swanson in May of this year. Swanson is a fighter on the decline, however, and Chikadze faces his biggest challenge yet against Barboza. Chikadze is one of the division’s best strikers, but in Barboza, he meets another fantastic stand-up featherweight. Chikadze is a tall featherweight at 6’0″, but will only stand 1 inch taller than Barboza and will give up an inch in reach.
Barboza has an extensive resume with a career record of 22-9 with 13 wins by KO/TKO, 1 win by submission, and 8 wins by decision. He had begun to struggle in the lightweight division, but since moving down to featherweight, things have improved for him, and he has now won his last two fights. With wins over featherweights, Makwan Amirkhani and Shane Burgos, he has shown that he belongs in this division. If he can defeat the likes of Chikadze, he will show that he deserves to be put on a title fight path.
These two fighters are very similar in style and build. This figures to be one of the best fights of the evening and perhaps of the year. Chikadze looks like the better striker, but he has shown difficulties when opponents apply a lot of pressure (see his fight with Jamall Emmers). Barboza will apply that kind of pressure on Saturday. Barboza’s wealth of experience against high-level competition will make him a fearsome opponent in a 5 round fight. The longer this fight lasts, the better Barboza’s chances of winning will be.
This fight should play well in DFS contests as it should be high-volume striking with a good chance for an early conclusion bonus for the winner. The real difficulty lies in predicting the winner. In multi-entry contests, it would be wise to give exposure on both sides of this bout. I can’t ever recommend playing both sides of a fight on the same lineup, but this is the kind of fight that could pay off that kind of approach if the fight were to go the distance. I believe Chikadze is the technically superior striker in this fight, but Barboza’s experience, toughness, and slightly lower salary make him my preferred play on Saturday. In truth, this fight could easily go either way and choosing Barboza is primarily a gut decision. Regardless, in GPP contests this fight should see heavy exposure no matter who one chooses to roster.
That’s all for this edition of Fight Study. Good luck with your lineups! For more advice on DFS contests for MMA, click HERE.