UFC on ESPN+ 99 Main Event Breakdown

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It’s been a lengthy stretch for MMA‘s top promotion of late. After Saturday’s card, the UFC will take next weekend off for the Memorial Day holiday inside the United States before embarking on a five-week stretch encompassing every weekend in June with an event.

Before the bye week, the promotion returns to its Las Vegas homebase for another UFC Fight Night at the UFC Apex facility in nearby Enterprise, NV. The Fight Night at the Apex comes just six days removed from UFC CEO Dana White mentioning that his organization would seek to hold more shows away from the venue starting later this year.

Live coverage of UFC on ESPN+ 99 is exclusive to the Disney-owned subscription-based platform on Saturday afternoon and evening. Action begins at 4 pm ET/ 1 pm PT on ESPN+ with the prelims, continuing at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT with the main card.

Featherweights Clash in UFC on ESPN+  99 Main Event Saturday

Absent of any postponements between now and the weekend, the final version of UFC on ESPN+ 99 features a full slate of 12 fights. Highlighting the night’s activities is a fight at 145 lbs. in the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event, one of only two all-ranked fights on the schedule.

No. 12 contender Edson Barboza (24-11 MMA, 18-11 UFC) fights No. 14 contender Lerone Murphy (13-0-1 MMA, 5-0-1 UFC). As with all headlining bouts in the promotion, the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show.

UFC on ESPN+ 99 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event on Saturday evening, Edson Barboza stands as the taller man at 5-foot-11, compared to the 5-foot-9 frame of Lerone Murphy. The former owns a 1 1/2-inch reach advantage (75 inches even to 73 1/2 inches) and a two-inch leg reach advantage (41 inches to 39 inches) over the latter.

Currently, the oddsmakers have Lerone Murphy installed as a -145 favorite on the money line, while Lerone Murphy counters as a +120 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.

Can Edson Barboza Win Third Fight in a Row?

Edson Barboza has posted a record of 3-2 in his last five fights. Back in October, he scored a unanimous decision victory after five rounds over Sodiq Yusuff (13-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) at the Apex.

After the fight ended, Barboza talked to UFC Hall of Fame inductee Michael Bisping about nearly stopping Yusuff with a kick.

“That’s a war. You have to really kill your opponents to win the war,” Barboza said. “He’s still alive, I try and finish. I gave my best to finish the fight, but he’s one of the best in the world, bro. He’s never [given] up, like me in the first round, you know. What a war, guys. Great fight. I hope you guys enjoyed it.”

Edson Barboza had to battle back as the fight wore on in October, but can he put Lerone Murphy away in the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event? Tune in on Saturday and find out.

The Stakes Are High for Lerone Murphy

In the other corner, Lerone Murphy comes into the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event on Saturday night having posted a mark of 5-0 in his last five fights. He’s undefeated in the UFC since joining the promotion’s roster in September of 2019 with a draw against Zubaira Tukhugov (20-6-1 MMA, 5-3-1 UFC).

During more recent times, he bested Josh Culibao (11-3-1 MMA, 3-3-1 UFC) last July in UFC London by unanimous decision after three rounds. After, he was supposed to have fought Dan Ige (18-7 MMA, 10-6 UFC) in a co-main attraction this past February, but the contest was scrapped due to Murphy sustaining an injury.

Saturday’s contest is his highest-profile fight since joining the UFC almost five years ago because it’s the first time that Murphy’s headlined a show, something that he mentioned to Hyon Ko of The Allstar recently.

“I feel like the UFC are trying to really see: Am I championship caliber?”, Murphy pondered. “Let’s see it. Let’s see it now. I feel that’s why they made it five rounds, because otherwise, they would have put it on the Brazil card as a three-rounder. They would have put it in Manchester as a three-rounder. So it’s a fraud check.”

Let it be known: Lerone Murphy is no fraud. He’s worked hard to get to this point and has clearly earned the headlining spot in the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event. Only time will tell if he can parlay it into a win.

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

Stylistically, the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event looks to favor Edson Barboza, a kickboxer with a black Pra Jiad in Muay-Thai, a black belt in Taekwondo, and a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, compared to Lerone Murphy’s status as a blue belt in BJJ.

Barboza Can Seize Control When it Matters Most

Statistically speaking, Edson Barboza has 18 wins as a member of the UFC’s active roster. Half of those have come by decision, including his latest win in October vs. Yusuff. In that win, he showed that he can take control of the fight in the later rounds, battling back from a near-knockout by Yusuff in the first period.

Fast-forward to the third round of the contest, where Barboza landed a combination, including a left hook, before going to the body to pacify any takedown attempt from Yusuff. Late in the period, he knocked Yusuff down with a spinning kick, a seminal moment to turn the tide of the bout.

While he attempted a D’arce choke, Barboza jettisoned this in favor of ground and pound shots as the round ended. Barboza had to have the knockdown in order to put momentum on his side of the column, and he can gain control if the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event goes deep this Saturday.

Lerone Murphy Could End The Night With One Blow

In the other corner, Lerone Murphy has the ability to write a quick finish to the story on Saturday night. His 2021 fight vs. Makwan Amirkhani is a prime example.

Right after the command to fight was given, he unloaded with an explosive knee strike to put Amirkhani down and out. Time of the stoppage: 14 seconds into the second round.

All it takes is a single shot right on the money. If he lands that big shot, he’ll receive more headlining opportunities down the road.

Final Thoughts

This looks to be an interesting fight on Saturday in the UFC on ESPN+ 99 main event. Don’t miss it.

Prediction: Edson Barboza by Unanimous Decision. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.