With all of the focus on the UFC bantamweight title fight rematch between T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao, one of the most intriguing matchups of the year is flying way under the radar. In the second bout of the main card, dynamic lightweight strikers Edson Barboza and Paul Felder will square off.

An undefeated striker out of Philadelphia, Felder’s UFC debut was a bit underwhelming; earning a split decision over Jason Saggo. But in his second outing, Felder let his striking go and scored an impressive spinning backfist knockout against battle tested veteran Danny Castillo. Against Barboza, Felder now has an opportunity to pick up and important win over a fighter currently ranked in the UFC’s official lightweight top 10.

Barboza on the other hand is looking to get back in the win column after dropping a unanimous decision to Michael Johnson in his last outing. Barboza is one of the most feared strikers in the lightweight division, but every time he has faced top tier competition, he has come up short. Barboza needs this win to prove he is more than just flash.

An interesting matchup between two elite strikers this bout has the potential to steal the show and create some highlight reel material. While Felder is riding a huge wave of momentum and confidence coming into this bout, Barboza has all the tools necessary to derail him.

Dictate the Distance

Even though Barboza and Felder are the same height, Barboza will have an impressive five inch reach advantage. For a fighter who utilizes kicks the way Barboza does, that reach advantage is even more definitive. Barboza needs to effectively use his length and reach to avoid Felder’s power. From the outside, Barboza has great snap and pop on his strikes and will be able to pick Felder apart like an assassin.

Leg Kicks

Leg kicks are one of the most underrated striking techniques in MMA today and Barboza is a great example of just how effective they can be. Three of his nine career knockout victories have been attributed to leg kicks. Barboza knows how to chop fighters down by attacking their legs. If he can target and score on Felder’s legs, it will only be a matter of time before Felder slows and loses his power.

Mix It Up

One of the biggest knocks against Barboza being a contender is that he is viewed as a specialist. While he is extremely capable and dangerous on the feet, he lacks the all-around game to compete against the best the division has to offer. Barboza needs to prove otherwise and he needs to show off his full arsenal against Felder. Felder is going to coming expecting Barboza to keep the fight standing. But if Barboza and surprise him and threaten him with the ground game, then he will give Felder – and the rest of the division – another dimension to worry about.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.