Best bets for UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Chikadze

    Reed Kuhn is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and strategy and analytics consultant. He is the author of “Fightnomics: The Hidden Numbers and Science in Mixed Martial Arts,” the first book to quantify drivers and performance metrics in combat sports.

We’re in for a striker’s delight with the main event Saturday, featuring the UFC’s ninth- and 10th-ranked featherweights. The rankings are as close as they come, the betting markets are basically split, and even their performance metrics are nearly identical.

The relative newcomer, Giga Chikadze, opened as the slight favorite, but the market has nudged the veteran, Edson Barboza, into the favorite position. The matchup could draw two-way action right up until fight time, so it’s essentially a pick ’em.

Odds: Edson Barboza (-115) vs. Giga Chikadze (-105)

Stat per stat, this is one of the most even matchups I’ve seen. Neither fighter utilizes much of a ground game, but when they do, they’ve performed in very similar — and underwhelming — ways. It’s unlikely to be the difference in this matchup. Instead, both have kept their fights mostly standing, clearly because striking is their best asset.

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