Danny “Last Call” Castillo (16-5, 6-2 UFC) vs. Edson Barboza (12-1, 6-1 UFC), at UFC on FOX 9
The ninth installment of the UFC on Fox heads to SacramentoCalifornia and brings with it a ton of top talent. In looking at the lineup for this card it reminds you of the extreme depth of the UFC roster considering how strong this card looks despite losing its biggest fights. The card also features a bunch of fighters from the area’s top MMA gym Team Alpha Male. One of those fighters Danny Castillo will be taking on feared Muay Thai specialist Edson Barboza.
Danny Castillo is a former college wrestler from California and currently a top member of the red hot Team Alpha Male. He was one of many quality fighters to come over to the UFC as a result of the WEC’s demise and has done quite well for himself before and after joining the big show. When breaking down Castillo’s game we are reminded that the guy is a pretty damned good fighter.
-Castillo’s strengths are pretty much the same as most fighters from Alpha Male, well rounded enough to fight everywhere but most definitely best at wrestling. Powerful single and double leg takedowns are complimented by high levels of physical strength and good conditioning. Once on top Castillo relies on strong top control to land busy but not overly aggressive ground n pound to ensure he does damage but to minimize the risk of being submitted. Best case scenario is he beats on foes enough to break their will and they give up a choke or he lets them up exhausted and beaten and he finishes them there with a big punch. Also like most Alpha Male guys Castillo is busy, creative, and has that wrestler’s mentality to carry him through.
-One of the inherent weaknesses tough, all rounder’s like Castillo can have is being susceptible to specialist fighters who can outmatch him in a particular area. So as good a wrestler as Castillo is, he has actually been outdone on that front by NCAA D1 All Americans Shane Roller and Jacob Volkmann, both of whom out wrestled/out grappled him handily. Then there was MMA striking wunderkind and current UFC LW champ Anthony Pettis who used his sniper accuracy to knock him out. Castillo can also get a bit over confident at times and in fights with Donald Cerrone and Michael Johnson it cost him a loss. Jumping into Cerrone’s guard left him abruptly arm barred and underestimating Johnson after dominating him for the 1st round left him KO’d.
Brazilian Muay Thai wrecking ball Edson Barboza comes into this fight after rebounding nicely from his first career defeat. He has won the 2 fights since his thorough loss to Jamie Varner and looks just as good now as he did prior to the loss. He started MMA in 2009 after making a very nice 25-3 run through the Brazilian Thai Boxing circuit and has carried those skills over to the cage wonderfully.
-Barboza’s strengths make him a very tough fighter to deal with, not only a devastating striker but also quick, and strong, and mean as hell. He employs the good old sprawl and brawl strategy made famous by guys like Chuck Liddell but is much more diverse in his attacks, staying true to his Thai boxing roots and using all 8 limbs. Barboza is among the new school group of Brazilian strikers who combine nasty striking with top notch anti wrestling and plenty of athleticism. Edson Barboza’s leg kicks are so effective he finishes fights with them.
-One of the few Brazilians you will see in the UFC without lethal BJJ, Barboza is still developing some facets of his game (that’s scary). His offensive wrestling and overall grappling game are serviceable but not at a level to match his strikes. Despite his sole loss to Jamie Varner lasting only 3.5 minutes, it left a nice blueprint on how he can be beat. A powerful, rugged, wrestler with heavy hands could give Barboza trouble IF they are smart and establish the TD threat early (who does that sound like?). Technical volume strikers Anthony Njokuani and Ross Pearson also had successes against Edson, even though they lost.
This match is one of my favorite kinds of match ups, 2 fighters each with a skill set fully capable of exploiting the others weaknesses. This means it will come down to who has the better night. Both fighters have been consistent and both are 2-1 in their last 3. I’m picking Castillo to win a decision because I feel his striking training will be better than Barboza’s wrestling training, and the only time Barboza faced a fighter like Castillo he got worked. Castillo wins by unanimous decision.