UFC on ESPN 30: Barboza vs. Chikadze Odds, Schedule, Predictions

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2021

UFC on ESPN 30: Barboza vs. Chikadze Odds, Schedule, Predictions

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    Two Ultimate Fighter winners will be crowned and a crucial featherweight battle will be waged at the UFC's Apex Facility on Saturday night.

    Edson Barboza will meet the rising Giga Chikadze in a fight that will have a direct impact on the title picture in Alexander Volkanovski's division.

    In the lead-up to that fight, we will see two TUF finales. Bryan Battle and Gilbert Urbina will lock horns to determine the middleweight champion, while the bantamweight division will get a new prospect, with Brady Hiestand and Ricky Turcios fighting for a UFC contract.

    In reality, all four fighters will likely get another crack at the UFC, but winning the tournaments will give the fighters head starts in making names for themselves.

    Here's what the complete card looks like.

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds

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    Main Card (ESPN/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET)

    • Edson Barboza (-125) vs. Giga Chikadze (+105)
    • Bryan Battle (-170) vs. Gilbert Urbina (+150) TUF 29 middleweight final
    • Brady Hiestand (+130) vs. Ricky Turcios (-150) TUF 29 bantamweight final
    • Kevin Lee (-145) vs. Daniel Rodriguez (+125)
    • Michael Gillmore (+385) vs. Andre Petroski (-525)
    • Gerald Meerschaert (+450) vs. Makhmud Muradov (-630)


    Prelims (ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET)

    • Abdul Razak Alhassan (+195) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (-240)
    • Sam Alvey (+110) vs. Wellington Turman (-130)
    • Dustin Jacoby (-190) vs. Darren Stewart (+160)
    • JJ Aldrich (-425) vs. Vanessa Demopoulos (+320)
    • Jamall Emmers (-150) vs. Pat Sabatini (+130)
    • Guido Cannetti (+220) vs. Mana Martinez (-275)

    Odds via DraftKings Sportbook.

Barboza vs. Chikadze

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    Edson Barboza vs. Giga Chikadze is a kickboxing clinic and a test of skill versus experience.

    Chikadze is a highly skilled striker. His run in the GLORY kickboxing promotion is proof in itself, but he's translated those skills well enough to the MMA arena that he is 6-0 in the UFC with a 13-2 record overall.

    He continues to get better too. He won his first two fights by split decision before winning the next two unanimously. He then knocked out Jamey Simmons and Cub Swanson in the first round.

    In other words, the hype is about to hit DEFCON 1.

    Standing in his way Saturday will be another skilled striker in Barboza. He owns some of the nastiest kicks in the game and has fought some of the biggest names in the lightweight division. When you have stood across the cage from Khabib Nurmagomedov, Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis, it's hard to envision being nervous about Chikadze.

    That doesn't mean Barboza can afford to take Chikadze lightly. He's going to try to beat him at his own game, and no one has done that in the UFC.

    Barboza will push the Georgian, but it's hard to pick against him given what he did to Swanson in May.

    Prediction: Chikadze via unanimous decision.

Battle vs. Urbina

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    Unfortunately, this isn't the final that was settled by the tournament on the show. Bryan Battle was slated to meet Tresean Gore. However, a leg injury for Gore opened the window for Urbina to take his place.

    Urbina shouldn't be taken lightly. He's a proficient wrestler with enough ground game to put Battle in trouble if he can get him there. He's 6-1 as a professional and submitted Michael Gilmore in the quarterfinals.

    The Team Volkanovski grappler was knocked out by Gore in the semifinals.

    Battle was the eighth and final pick for Team Volkanovski, but he used the tournament to show that was a mistake, employing his striking to make a clean run to the finals. He won his second fight via submission, but it's his hands that have stood out.

    Based on what each man has shown, Battle's striking and takedown defense should give him the title and a jump start in his middleweight standing.

    Prediction: Battle via second-round TKO.

Hiestand vs. Turcios

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    The first of the Ultimate Fighter championship contests figures to be the best. Both bantamweight—Ricky Turcios and Brady Hiestand—put on entertaining fights in the house and appear to be close in talent on paper.

    Turcios is the slight favorite after dispatching Daniel Argueta and Liudvik Sholinian in the tournament. He brings an energy, pace and aggressiveness that can be difficult to counter. It isn't always pretty, but he is all about relentless pressure.

    Hiestand may be the slightly more skilled of the two. His striking didn't stand out on the show, but he is a strong wrestler who excels in scrambles. He doesn't quite set the pace that Turcios did but he proved his ability to grind out a close win in the opening round.

    In a split-decision win over Josh Rettinghouse, his cardio and heart were tested. He followed it up with a TKO win over Vince Murdock.

    The Rettinghouse fight might be a better indicator for how this one will go, though. Both men have futures in the organization, but Hiestand's cardio might not be enough for him to hang with Turcios' pressure.

    Prediction: Turcios via decision.


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