Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy prediction, pick: Will “The Miracle” suffer his first career loss?

MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom goes in-depth to break down the biggest fights in the UFC. Today, he takes a closer look at UFC Fight Night 241’s main event: Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy.

Edson Barboza (24-11 MMA, 18-11 UFC) UFC Fight Night 241 preview

Apr 15, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Edson Barboza (red gloves) reacts after the fight against Billy Quarantillo (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at T-Mobile Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 38 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 75″

  • Last fight: Decision win over Sodiq Yusuff (Oct. 14, 2023)

  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)

  • Stance/striking style: Orthodox/muay Thai

  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA titles
+ Multiple muay Thai accolades
^ Record of 25-3 (22 by KO)
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt
+ 14 KO victories
+ 1 submission win
+ 8 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid feints and footwork
+ Improved boxing technique
^ Jabs, pivots, counters, etc.
+ Devastating leg kicks
+ Accurate spinning attacks
+ Underrated counter wrestling
+ Solid butterfly guard

Lerone Murphy (13-0-1 MMA, 5-0-1 UFC) UFC Fight Night 241 preview

Lerone Murphy

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 32 Weight: 145 lbs. Reach: 73.5″

  • Last fight: Decision win over Josh Culibao (July 22, 2023)

  • Camp: Manchester Top Team (England)

  • Stance/striking style: Switch-stance/muay Thai

  • Risk management: Good

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA title
+ Amateur MMA accolades
+ Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt
+ 7 KO victories
+ 6 first-round finishes
+ KO power
+ Solid feints and footwork
^ Strikes well from both stances
+ Hard calf kicks
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Works well off over-unders
+ Serviceable takedown ability
^ Favors attempts along the fence
+ Solid scrambling and transitional grappling
+ Good ground-and-pound

Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy point of interest: Muay Thai maelstrom

The main event in Las Vegas features two fighters who are familiar with the art of eight limbs.

Storming onto the UFC scene as a thunderous leg kicker, Edson Barboza became renowned for his initial impressions of violence that reminded MMA fans why muay Thai is such an effective striking art.

After a few years of mixed success, Barboza made his way up to New Jersey to train with Mark Henry, a coach who quietly helped him improve his footwork and fundamentals within the boxing realm.

From hitting pivots to stepping off to the appropriate sides, the Brazilian has done a much better job of facilitating his punches and overall offense. Barboza has always possessed an underrated counter right hand but has since developed his left hand under said upgrades.

Though Barboza throws his jab with much more efficiency, it is the improvements in his boxing counters and bodywork that could serve the American Top Team product particularly well in this fight. However, Barboza will still need to respect the power that’s coming back his way.

Enter Lerone Murphy.

Despite the UFC matchmakers’ best efforts to bury lighter-weight talents on preliminary cards, Murphy appears to have made himself undeniable with the skills shown in his accrual of wins.

A well-coached fighter who looks to be a natural when it comes to striking, Murphy comports himself comfortably from both stances on the feet. Whether Murphy’s launching left-sided power strikes from southpaw or is trying to set up his patent calk kick from orthodox, the English fighter is seamless when switching sides.

Not only can Murphy variate the looks and levels of his jab, but the 32-year-old also displays solid instincts when it comes to leg kick defense and counters that should come in handy this Saturday. That said, Murphy has shown that he is not beyond being caught while kicking either, making counters a potent two-way street.

Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy breakdown: Potential grappling threats

Considering the potential for chaos on the feet, no one should be shocked if this party ends up on the floor at some point.

No stranger to closed-quarter combat, Murphy has shown a semi-surprising willingness to tie up with opposition throughout a fight.

Although Murphy does have a decent reactionary double-leg that he’ll dust off on occasion, the 8-year pro primarily looks to get things done from the clinch. Whether Murphy is muscling his man over from the bodylock or looking to change levels along the fence, the Englishman seems strong from this space and works well off over-unders.

However, since Barboza’s early encounters with wrestlers the likes of Jamie Varner and Danny Castillo, the 15-year pro has steadily strengthened his counter-wrestling acumen. Even in his slightly more recent fight against former lightweight kingpin Khabib Nurmagomedov, Barboza was still able to contest with his counterpart’s underhooks, creating enough space for separations despite being dead tired in the final frame.

More importantly, Barboza – from an offensive perspective – is not beyond shooting a double-leg takedown of his own to help alleviate pressure. Reactionary doubles, at least on paper, wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world given the Brazilian’s edge in experience.

Still, despite giving up his fair share of takedowns, Murphy has shown a solid scrambling process.

Typically looking to locate the fence, Murphy favors wall walking to safety any way he can – usually keeping a strong whizzer for assistance. And if Murphy can get on top, “The Miracle” possesses some ungodly ground-and-pound that can change the dynamic of a fight.

Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy odds

The oddsmakers and the public are favoring the younger man, listing Murphy -115 and Barboza +118 via FanDuel. Considering that Murphy is the undefeated fighter with less mileage, I’m not surprised to see him installed as the odds-on favorite, albeit slightly. Still, it is nice to see some respect given to Barboza given the lack of line movement overall.

Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy prediction, pick

Not only have we seen some notable Brazilian veterans find the fountain of youth this year, but Barboza has quietly been improving during this late-career resurgence of sorts. Aside from being fully settled into his new home of American Top Team, Barboza has made marked upgrades to his boxing game that I see having some play on Murphy.

Although Murphy reenacting a worse version of the Bryce Mitchell knockdown from southpaw is a reality that is on the table for Barboza, the English fighter has shown suspect defense when it comes to protecting his midsection.

Unless Murphy can stop Barboza in the first two frames, then I suspect that the 38-year-old veteran can pull away with bodywork and counters down the stretch.

I’m hoping to see more of Murphy regardless of the result, but the official pick is Barboza by decision.

Prediction: Barboza by decision

Edson Barboza vs. Lerone Murphy start time, where to watch

Barboza and Murphy are expected to make their walks to the octagon at approximately 9:15 p.m. ET (6:15 p.m. PT). The fight streams live on ESPN+.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 241.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie