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Preview: UFC on ABC 5 ‘Emmett vs. Topuria’

Emmett vs. Topuria


The Ultimate Fighting Championship will head back to Jacksonville, Florida, with UFC on ABC 5 this Saturday at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. Ilia Topuria looks to cash in on his hype as one of the best young featherweights in the world in the main event, where Josh Emmett stands in his way as the gatekeeper to title contention at 145 pounds. Beyond that, the highlights are found in the Amanda Ribas-Maycee Barber co-headliner between women’s flyweight prospects looking to impose their physicality on one another and what should be an entertaining middleweight war pitting Brendan Allen against Bruno Silva. Neither of the two other bouts on the main draw have much in the way of immediate stakes, but they carry some definite potential for violence.

Now to the UFC on ABC 5 “Emmett vs. Topuria” preview:

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Featherweights

#5 FW | Josh Emmett (18-3, 9-3 UFC) vs. #9 FW | Ilia Topuria (13-0, 5-0 UFC)

ODDS: Topuria (-320), Emmett (+265)

Will this be Topuria’s coronation as a true featherweight contender? Representing Georgia and Spain, “El Matador” was an interesting prospect when the UFC picked him up as an injury replacement late in 2020, but it took all of two months for Topuria to make it obvious that he would be a problem for his 145-pound brethren. A decision win over Youssef Zalal showed off the straightforward pressure game that Topuria had worked behind for most of his career, but it was his subsequent starching of Damon Jackson that truly impressed, as he displayed impressive body work ahead of the knockout. Topuria’s lone fight of 2021 saw him pass an entirely different type of test against Ryan Hall, proving he was capable of tempering his typical level of aggression. However, things threatened to go south in the first half of 2022 for Topuria. Weight-cutting issues scrapped a featherweight bout against Charles Jourdain, and a subsequent one-off fight at lightweight saw him nearly get knocked out by Jai Herbert before staging a comeback. A dominant December victory over Bryce Mitchell re-affirmed that Topuria is worth the considerable hype, but the arc of that Herbert fight does leave the lingering worry that he could put himself in danger against a consistent power puncher. That is exactly what Emmett brings to the table.

Emmett’s rise through the ranks was a much slower burn, but the Californian’s UFC career started in much the same place back in 2016, as he stepped in as an afterthought late replacement and walked away with an impressive victory. From there, Emmett plugged away as an unspectacular lightweight before dropping down to featherweight in late 2017, which immediately unlocked his power. While he did not manage to knock out Felipe Arantes, it seemed like he was able to knock the Brazilian down with every punch he landed. The win put Emmett in position to take a late-notice spot against perennial fringe contender Ricardo Lamas, and after scoring a stunning first-round knockout, he has since been established as a relevant featherweight. There was the worry that Emmett might be a flash in the pan for multiple reasons after his first post-Lamas fight—a knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens that saw him suffer multiple career-threatening facial fractures—but he showed little slippage upon his eventual return, scoring knockouts of Michael Johnson and Mirsad Bektic. After winning a 2020 “Fight of the Year” contender against Shane Burgos with a torn ACL, Emmett has established himself as one of the toughest men in the sport both inside and outside of the cage, all while continuing to build some versatility to his central skill: an ability to carry fight-ending power through multiple rounds. After skating by with narrow wins over Dan Ige and Calvin Kattar, Emmett finally met his match in Yair Rodriguez when the two had an interim title fight in February. It was clearly a nightmarish matchup for Emmett. Rodriguez’s mix of speed and power allowed him to lay on a ton of damage while making Emmett look absolutely static, even if the Team Alpha Male rep did give it a solid effort before falling victim to a second-round submission. Topuria has the same type of physical gifts in terms of speed and explosivity, but he is going to take a much riskier path to applying them, choosing to close range and meet Emmett head-on. That essentially makes this fight a bet on Topuria’s durability, assuming Emmett does not start suffering some athletic drop-off at 38 years of age. Emmett is consistently dangerous with his powerful hooks, which makes it a solid bet that Topuria is going to charge into a near-knockout at some point. The lean is that Topuria can survive and connect with multiple accurate shots for each one Emmett lands and eventually win a war of attrition, but it is going to be a particularly difficult path. It would not be a shock if Emmett held serve in spectacular fashion. The pick is Topuria via fourth-round stoppage.

Jump to »
Emmett vs. Topuria
Ribas vs. Barber
Tafa vs. Lane
Santos vs. Onama
Allen vs. Silva
The Prelims
More Fight Odds

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