UFC Fight Night Betting Pick: Edson Barboza vs Makwan Amirkhani

This one is just too juicy/interesting to leave alone.

Edson Barboza is coming off of a semi-controversial split decision loss to Dynamite Dan Ige in the Brazilian’s first foray at 135 pounds.

Edson is pretty dog on lean already so I didn’t know how he would do with the weight cut.

Looking closely at him, though, you see that he isn’t that thick,

He’s not flat like a fish like me but I can see how he made it down to Bantamweight.

Edson is well known as one of the best kickers in the history of the UFC.

It is his switch kick to the body that is so fast.

My gawsh.

He has switched his feet and landed the kick before most of us can even begin to move.

Lightning in a bottle he is.

The Brazilian has had a really tough go at it lately, though, losing 5 of his previous 6 fights inside the Octagon.

The previous two fights were split decisions, though, and the three losses before that were to Kevin Lee, Justin Gaethje, and Khabib Nurmagomedov.


Edson’s game is built almost entirely around striking, speed, and timing. Barboza has had a good career in the UFC but he never evolved.

Georges St Pierre never wrestled as a kid or in high school!

Yet, he developed arguably the best wrestling for mixed martial arts of all-time.

The only argument there is Khabib but it doesn’t take away from my point.

Don’t just stick to your strengths. I realize that it isn’t the smartest move in competition to try something for the first time or try to change your style when you aren’t prepared.

That’s what training is for, though. It is somewhere around 99 to 1 when talking the percentage of time fighters spend training vs competing.

This is true for most all sports but it is exaggerated even more with fighting as the average fight time for a year of competing is about 20-30 minutes.

That isn’t much so I understand why one would stick mainly to his strengths in an MMA fight.

There is so much time, though, captain!

Look at how freaking explosive Edson Barboza is.

He isn’t that much different from a young GSP athletically.

Edson has been training in mixed martial arts at the best gyms with the best training partners with the best equipment with the best coaches for over a decade.

You’re telling me he couldn’t have developed an explosive double leg takedown over those 10 years?

Come on, man!

I get it. I have trained my strengths more than my weaknesses for sure.

I understand it ego wise in training and competitively at the highest level.

Edson’s opponent on October 10th, Makwan Amirkhani, has a very strong takedown game and it appears his striking is catching up to the rest of his skills.

BetOnline.AG has the betting odds for this one.

Let’s take a look at the measurables for this matchup as well as a few attributes, look at the betting odds, and finally make a prediction on the fight between Edson Barboza and Makwan Amirkhani.

Edson Barboza Makwan Amirkhani
Fight Record: 20-9 Fight Record: 16-4
Age: 34 Age: 31
Height: 5’11” Height: 5’10”
Reach: 75” Reach: 72”
From: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil From: Kermanshah, Iran
Fight Camp: American Top Team< Fight Camp: Straight Blast Gym Ireland

Both fight camps are very good. American Top Team is one if not the best mixed martial arts gym in the world.

Straight Blast Gym in Ireland is rooted in Bruce Lee’s concepts.

This is the home gym of The Notorious Conor McGregor. Many people don’t know he is a Bruce Lee guy but he is.

Anderson Silva-Bruce Lee guy.

Jon Jones self identifies as a Jeet Kune Do fighter.

All of these new age mixed martial arts fans want to disrespect Bruce and say oh he was just a movie star, blah blah.

They obviously need to pick up a book.

Straight Blast Gym actually has a lot of affiliates. I was up in Bozeman, Montana a couple of summers ago and my barber told me he trained at SBG in Missoula.

I’m sure Conor has never stopped by for a seminar or anything but pretty cool, nonetheless.

Please Note:
McGregor’s teammate, Makwan Amirkhani, is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC and he has been a cash cow for me.

I bet him against two Brits with questionable grappling, Danny Henry and Chris Fishgold. It worked out.

In between those two fights, I left him alone against Shane Burgos, another division standout.

The pressure boxing and superior size of Burgos eventually got to the Kurdish star and was TKO’ed in the 3rd.

I thought Makwan looked amazing in that fight and surprised a lot of people until he fell short.

Burgos is one of the best in the division, though.

His most recent fight with knockout artist Josh Emmett was one of the best of the year.

Rewatch that one if you get the chance.

Is Makwan’s fight with Barboza just going to come down to wrestling?

Is it just another striker vs grappler matchup where wrestling will once again be the determining factor of the fight?

We see so many but the farther we get along in the evolution of mixed martial arts, the fewer specialists we see.

They will always be there because of the danger factor but you are starting to see the guys who blend everything so well rise to the top.

I believe Makwan is one of those guys and I know Edson isn’t.

Let’s look at some of the attributes of the two fighters now.

Big 5 Barboza Amirkhani
Striking Volume 3.5 2.0
Conditioning >3.5 4.0
Fight IQ 3.0 4.5
Durability 3.5 4.0
Heart/Mental Strength 3.5 4.0

The biggest disparity we see here is the striking volume.

This is partly because one fighter spends most of his Octagon time on his feet and the other spends most of his time either wrestling or hunting for submissions on the mat.

I’m not crazy about Edson’s fight IQ. He backs himself up against the cage far too often and he screwed up majorly in his most recent outing opposite Dan Ige.

Edson dropped him at the end of one of the rounds and instead of standing over him and raining down shots to finish the fight, Barboza fell into the guard of Ige and that allowed the Hawaiian stick of dynamite to survive.

Anytime you get the chance to sink that stick of dynamite in a pool of blood, you should certainly do that because you certainly don’t want that thing blowing up in your face in the third round.

For that, Edson is now 0-1 in his new weight class.

Makwan, on the other hand, has been fighting in the UFC’s Featherweight Division for the duration of his Octagon career.

Amirkhani is 6-2 with the company and four of those wins came before the final bell.

One of his losses was a split decision earlier in his career and the other was a hard fought defeat to the top 5 Shane Burgos.

Man, I wish we were still in Las Vegas at the Apex facility for this fight.

I would surely favor Makwan in a small Octagon.

His wrestling is legit. I’m telling you.

I know Edson has an 80% takedown defense percentage throughout his 23-fight UFC career.

Barboza has miles, though. His body has been through it. He was training Muay Thai at the age of 8 so I know he has strong bones to carry him but the man has been beaten up pretty badly inside the Octagon quite a bit.

He has taken much more damage in his fights than his opponent, Amirkhani.

It should be noted that Makwan took this fight on 2-3 weeks’ notice.

I would imagine that most all UFC fighters are staying ready to fight at a moment’s notice in today’s global climate. Barboza will still have an advantage for training through a full camp, though.

Imagining isn’t good enough.

We have to do better than that.

We can’t assume he had been training hard for weeks before he got the call but we can’t assume the complete opposite either.

  • Barboza isn’t the type of guy to tire you out.
  • He is either going to beat you up or he isn’t.

I wouldn’t trip too hard on the short notice in this spot.

Even though I have seen improved striking and especially punching power from the Straight Blast product, I can’t pick him to defeat Edson Barboza in a striking match.

He could hurt him with a punch. I’m telling you guys.

The truth remains, though, that Amirkhani is going to have to take down Edson at least a couple of times to sway the judges.

I love his IQ, his relentless pursuit of the takedown, and Makwan’s overall game.

What are his betting odds?

Edson Barboza (-240) vs Makwan Amirkhani (+200)

Wow, you can get a better price on Edson Barboza at 5dimes.eu if that’s the way you want to go.

I just don’t see the value there.

Makwan is too dangerous and he is one of those guys that will stick to his game plan throughout adversity and sometimes that is enough to sway the judges who may be scoring takedowns heavier than normal that night.

BetOnline.AG has our boy as a 2 to 1 dog.

Now, he doesn’t have a big name. There is the short notice thing and Edson with his 80% takedown defense, actually matches up great w Makwan.

I just think Amirkhani is at the very top of his game and we may get to see the best Makwan we have ever seen in a couple of weeks.

I would actually wait a bit on placing this bet because more money will likely come in on Barboza.

We might even get Amirkhani as high as (+250)!

Path to Victory

Edson Barboza

  • Defend the takedown.
  • Jab his opponent.
  • Kick his body.
  • Kick his leg.
  • Defend the takedown.
  • Win.

Makwan Amirkhani

I think he can hurt Edson on the feet and then likely catch him with an anaconda or rear naked choke.

What is likely going to happen IF Amirkhani gets the win:

  • He will take down Edson
  • Control him on the ground
  • Then probably win a decision.

He could submit him also, of course, but I see Makwan getting a few takedowns here.

He does average 3.5 per 15 minutes and has taken down every single UFC opponent except for his fight with Any Ogle who he TKO’ed very early.


I have kinda given it away already but I’m going with my gut here on Amirkhani.

I wouldn’t bet him at any less than a (+150) underdog.

It is short notice and Edson is only 34, a few years older than his opponent so I wouldn’t go hard here.

1 unit is plenty here because you stand to win 2.

We only need to cap Makwan to win against Barboza 4 out of 10 times to make a strong betting play on him.

His current betting odds of (+200) denote a 33% implied probability to win the fight.

I think he should be around (+140) to (+160) so I like this spot a lot.

My Pick
Makwan Amirkhani!

In Conclusion

Fun fight here!

It does kinda stink that we aren’t getting Amirkhani in a more confident spot here because he is one of those guys you can hammer at (-250) and fair pretty well.

That’s what I did when he fought Danny Henry.

I felt the betting line was way off and Makwan’s first round anaconda choke backed that theory up at least for one night.

Edson Barboza vs Sodiq Yusuff was going to be a banger!

I favor Sodiq and I really really hope they make this fight again in the near future.

Barboza is a professional, though, and I know he will always be ready for whoever whenever.

As I mentioned, wait on making your play for a little bit here.

It doesn’t look like much money is going to come in on the dog so you can likely get him at a much better price next week.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.