Top Choices for UFC on ESPN 53 Featuring Ribas vs. Namajunas

Oh boy, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is on a roll! This Saturday marks their eighth straight weekend of action. And guess what? It’s the first show of 2024 to grace ESPN with its main card. Summer can’t come soon enough, with more events on the horizon. The betting lines? Tighter than a drum, with just a couple of favorites breaking past the -200 mark. So, let’s dive into the UFC on ESPN 53 edition of Prime Picks. We’re all in for some headliner havoc, a glimpse into the “there’s levels to this” showcases, and, well, we’ll pinch our noses for the heavyweight drags.

Amanda Ribas and Rose Namajunas are about to throw down, and the stakes? High. Questions are buzzing like bees around a hive. Can Ribas push past round three? Will Namajunas’ power keep Ribas at bay? The absence of coach Trevor Wittman – big deal or no? And, the million-dollar question: will the fight go the distance? Our bet? Nope. With both fighters boasting finish rates in the 60% range, plus top-notch grappling and striking that’s only getting better, expect fireworks. Namajunas’ boxing could be the key, though Fiorot proved a tough nut to crack. Whether it’s a dance on the mat or a brawl standing up, don’t expect the judges to be bothered with scoring this one.

Now, onto Ribas and her flyweight journey. A razor-thin loss to Katlyn Cerminara? Hardly a setback. And Maycee Barber seems to be finding her groove. Ribas, fearless against the likes of Virna Jandiroba and Viviane Araujo, has shown she’s not just passing through the flyweight division. Size might just be on her side, even if she’s looking up at her opponents. Her defense? Solid. It’s like she’s daring them to make a move, and when they do, she’s ready to pounce.

Namajunas, the former strawweight champ, packs a punch. Knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Weili Zhang is no small feat. Her arsenal? Diverse. From deadly strikes rooted in solid fundamentals to surprise head kicks and spinning back fists. If the fight hits the mat, she’s game. But standing toe-to-toe, her opponents better have their hands ready. As the fight wears on, openings will appear. Both fighters know how to capitalize, setting the stage for an early night.

Edmen Shahbazyan, hovering just below the -200 mark, still offers value. His move to Xtreme Couture? Brilliant. It’s been a rough patch, but facing top-15 fighters non-stop is no joke. A.J. Dobson, his opponent, is in a tight spot. His UFC tenure hangs in the balance. Shahbazyan’s power and finishing instinct could be the difference-maker, as long as he stays the aggressor.

Billy Quarantillo, at 35, isn’t slowing down. His volume striking and stamina are as sharp as ever. His comeback against Damon Jackson? A testament to his ability to push the pace. Youssef Zalal, a kickboxer turned grappler, might find Quarantillo’s pressure too much to handle. This fight’s betting line? Spot on.

And then there’s the heavyweight double play. Karl Williams vs. Justin Tafa, and Michael Parkin vs. Mohammed Usman, both expected to last over 1.5 rounds. Heavyweight fights are unpredictable, but these matchups suggest we might be in for a longer show. Tafa, stepping in for his brother, celebrates most wins early. Williams, more accustomed to the judges’ scorecards, just needs to avoid Tafa’s power. Usman and Parkin, with their high finish rates, could end it early too. But if their wrestling matches up, we might just see this one go the distance.

So, there you have it. A weekend packed with potential barnburners and strategic chess matches. The UFC on ESPN 53 is not to be missed. Let’s see if our picks hit the mark or if the fight game throws us another curveball.

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