The third bout of UFC 123 is yet another lightweight matchup between prospects Mike Lullo and Edson Barboza. This fight will likely be the one that casual fans know the least about as both lightweights are making their UFC debut.
Lullo fights out of Chicago and was a late replacement for Darren Elkins, who had to withdraw from the match due to injury. Mike Lullo (8-2) is an exciting fighter who, after losing his first two professional fights, has reeled off 8 consecutive victories which includes 6 straight stoppages. Lullo was even able to pull off a rare gogoplata submission this past June against Jeremy Castro. Lullo also has a background in boxing which should help the 31 year old.
Standing in Lullo’s way is the rising Brazilian Edson Barboza (6-0), who was invited to the UFC after winning the Ring of Combat lightweight title this past June. Barboza has been steamrolling his competition, having only 1 of his 6 professional fights even enter the 2nd round. Barboza holds a black belt in Muay Thai, an art that helps utilize elbows, knees and kicks in striking. Before entering MMA, Barboza held a 25-3 record in professional Muay Thai fights with 22 knockouts.
Barboza has a wide array of talents, having won fights via knockout due to punches and most recently leg kicks. Also mixed in was an anaconda choke submission victory in only his third professional fight. Barboza’s height (5’11”) should give him a distinct advantage standing especially with his ability to deploy the Muay Thai strikes from a distance or in the clinch.
Lullo’s best chance of victory will be to get this fight to the ground where he can work his submissions, but I fully expect him to have his hands full in the process.
Prediction: Edson Barboza via knockout in the 1st round.