Leon “Rocky” Edwards
At 6’0” with a 74” reach, Leon Edwards (13-3) is an incredible athlete.
He is an offensively oriented fighter, using powerful kicks and punches to cut his opponents down. If he thinks his striking won’t get the job done, he’ll drag opponents to the ground and go for the finish with strikes and submissions.
The word to describe Edwards is “powerful.”
His strikes are thrown at full velocity with blistering accuracy. Because of this, Edwards is very difficult to counter when he’s going at full speed and most of his opponents are reduced to blocking and resetting their distance. His takedowns are an impressive display of strength and tenacity; if he doesn’t get the takedown on the first shot, he’ll hang on like a squid on landing gear until he can drag the opponent back down.
As with any well-built fighter who uses his athleticism, Edwards will tire from a hard round of grappling. Albert Tumenov forced Edwards to work to get him to the ground and keep him there, which tired the latter man enough for Tumenov to mount a striking offense before being submitted in the final round.
Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena
Bryan Barberena is primarily a striker whose style can be described as “Kelvin Gastelum lite”; measured forward motion with a mix of loose, easy strikes to keep the opponents honest. While Gastelum likes to rely on jabs and straights, Barberena enjoys coming around the sides with hooks. He takes just enough off his blows so that he can throw them for three rounds, but keeps just enough on them so that a clean connection will wobble an opponent. His finishing combination of the tough Joe Proctor was a prime example of this, where all the experience in the world couldn’t protect Proctor from the onslaught.
Barberena is not much of a grappler; his submission victory over Sage Northcutt came after the marketing golden boy slipped and fell rather than offensive wrestling on Barberena’s part. But the fact that he passed guard and sunk in an arm triangle choke shows that Barberena can be an opportunist on the ground should the opportunity present itself.
Barberena has shown a susceptibility to well-timed takedowns and shots to the body and legs. His 13-4 record means that his weaknesses aren’t big enough to derail his career, but they may be big enough to keep from ascending the UFC rankings.
Both Edwards and Barberena have suffered their most convincing losses against fighters who could handle their striking and repeatedly take them down. The difference here is that Edwards has the offensive wrestling skills to take away Barberena’s striking, while the opposite isn’t true. Barberena has proven himself too tough to finish on the ground, but Edwards can likely take two out of three rounds by riding it out on top.
Edwards via unanimous decision
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