The UFC completes its busy week of fights from VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, with an ESPN+ card that features a heavyweight main event between Alistair Overeem and Walt Harris.
The heavyweight collision is one of many fights that has been scheduled and rescheduled throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The two were originally set to do battle in December 2019, but Harris was forced to pull out of the bout to deal with the death of his stepdaughter. The two were then set to square off on April 11 in Oregon, but the pandemic forced the cancellation of that card.
Now the two will finally meet on a card that features plenty of recognizable names and talents.
Claudia Gadelha takes on a surging Angela Hill in the co-main. Edson Barboza will also make his featherweight debut on the main card against Dan Ige. Eryk Anders and Song Yadong are also involved in what should be a fun night of fights after a long drought.
Here's what the complete card looks like along with the latest odds and predictions for some of the biggest bouts of the night.
Main Card (ESPN+ at 9 p.m. ET)
- Alistair Overeem (+115; win $115 on $100 bet) vs. Walt Harris (-145; win $68.97 on $100 bet)
- Claudia Gadelha (-210) vs. Angela Hill (+175)
- Edson Barboza (-140) vs. Dan Ige (+110)
- Eryk Anders (+115) vs. Krzysztof Jotko (-145)
- Marlon Vera (+160) vs. Song Yadong (-190)
Prelims (ESPN+ at 6 p.m. ET)
- Miguel Baeza (-155) vs. Matt Brown (+125)
- Anthony Hernandez (-115) vs. Kevin Holland (-115)
- Giga Chikadze (-350) vs. Irwin Rivera (+275)
- Darren Elkins (-120) vs. Nate Landwehr (-110)
- Mara Romero Borella (+120) vs. Cortney Casey (-150)
- Don'Tale Mayes (-120) vs. Rodrigo Nascimento (-110)
Odds via Caesars Palace
Harris Continues Winning Ways Against Overeem
After years of middling results in the UFC, Harris has shown tremendous growth over the last few years. The Big Ticket has put together three wins and another one that was overturned since 2018.
Unfortunately, personal tragedy kept Harris out of the Octagon since his July 2019 win over Aleksei Oleinik. He dispatched of the Russian in just 12 seconds for his second consecutive win in under a minute. Now he feels even more motivated than ever.
"It's a different fire right now for me," Harris said, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "It's something I can't hardly explain. I'm not propelled by just my motivations anymore. I know I'm doing something for her."
There isn't a better litmus test for Harris' skills than Overeem. The Reem is as crafty a veteran in the division as you'll find. When he steps in the cage to fight Harris it will be his 65th career fight, and he still is adding new wrinkles to his game.
He's transformed from a pure power striker to a more skilled range kickboxer in the latter stages of his career. He showed his ability to do that when he was on his way to beating Jairzinho Rozenstruik before losing the bout with seconds left by knockout.
That's the problem for Overeem in this fight, though. He may be more skilled than Harris, but he can't dish out the power he used to and certainly can't take it.
It's going to take longer than a minute, but if Harris can utilize his takedowns to force openings in the striking game, he should extend his knockout streak to three.
Prediction: Harris via second-round TKO
Claudia Gadelha Powers Through Angela Hill
Hill has become a fan favorite for all the obvious reasons. She has an active social media presence, an exciting action-heavy style and she fights frequently. This will already be her third fight in 2020 after fighting four times in 2019.
But this is the closest Hill has come to go beyond simple fan-favorite status because she is on her first legitimate winning streak since joining the organization in 2017.
Overkill has beaten Ariane Carnelossi, Hannah Cifers and Loma Lookboonmee since September 2019 but will see a huge step up in competition in Gadelha.
The Brazilian is a former title challenger who has fought some of the best competition in the division. She holds wins over Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Carla Esparza. The only two to beat her since 2016 are Nina Ansaroff and Jessica Andrade.
In short, Gadelha has experience with a wide variety of fighters and isn't too concerned with Hill's forward movement.
"I feel like Angela is going to come after (me)," Gadelha said, per Nolan King of MMAjunkie. "She's very confident because she won her last couple of fights. I'm a different breed. I've been fighting for so long. I have a lot of experience. If she comes forward, she'll find a nightmare."
Gadelha really shines in the clinch and on the ground, where her strength is utilized to control opponents. With Hill's reckless aggression, it's easy to see Gadelha securing reactive takedowns and controlling the pace of the fight.
Hill can get some shots in, but she'll need to make them count to spring the upset.
Prediction: Gadelha via decision
Dan Ige Ruins Edson Barboza's Featherweight Debut
Barboza has lost four of his last five fights, so he's doing what most fighters do in that scenario: changing weight classes.
Granted it works out for some. Sometimes it's simply a better fit for a fighter to go up or down in weight. Sometimes it's merely a step down in competition that comes with it.
The oddsmakers seem to like Barboza at featherweight. He's a small favorite over Ige, which may have more to do with his name recognition and prior success against the likes of Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez. But those days aren't reflective of how he's been fighting recently.
Conversely, Ige doesn't have the same names on his resume, but he's on a five-fight win streak with the latest being an impressive win over Mirsad Bektic.
Barboza's striking is still highly dangerous, so he's in every fight simply for the fact he can land a head kick that takes out his opponent at any moment. But Ige is the more well-rounded fighter with more ways to win at this point in their careers.
As long as Ige can avoid the one-strike power of Barboza, he can win on points and give Barboza a rude welcome to the division.
Prediction: Ige via decision