UFC 268 Main Card Predictions: Part 1

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UFC 268 has an epic main card to show for. From start to finish, each and every matchup has the potential to set the crowd at Madison Square Garden into a wild frenzy of excitement and exhilaration.

Though some of these mixed martial artists are pursuing championship glory, others are simply trying to maintain a level of relevance and legitimacy in divisions that have grown increasingly more competitive.

Kicking off the main card will be the clash between 40-year-old veteran Frankie Edgar and rising talent Marlon Vera, two bantamweight striking experts that have plenty left to prove in this division.

With the Sean Strickland and Luke Rockhold showdown scrapped from the main card, strikers Shane Burgos and Billy Quarantillo’s much-anticipated featherweight matchup was bumped up from the prelims to the main card.

Though neither of these two matchups are title-oriented, expect each showdown to fire up this main card with a bang. On that note, here are the predictions for the first two fights on the main card of UFC 268.

5. Marlon Vera vs Frankie Edgar

Marlon “Chito” Vera:

At only 28-years old, Marlon Vera has become one of the most underrated bantamweight fighters in the UFC. Ranked 13th overall in a division that’s jam-packed with talent, Vera has fallen a little under the radar but has been brewing a storm since he set foot in the octagon back in 2014.

Following a unanimous decision loss back in February of 2018, Vera has won seven of his last nine fights since, which included five straight victories from 2018 to 2019. Bringing rapid quick jabs, sharp leg kicks, and biting elbow shots, Vera has all the striking tools to deal a lot of damage and possesses the shifty elusiveness to stay out of harms way. Just to give you an idea, Vera has yet to lose by knockout since he started his MMA career in 2012.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar:

Frankie Edgar has seen better days over his 14-year career. Since 2018, Edgar has managed to come away with just two wins in six fights, suffering four losses to some of the best featherweight and bantamweight fighters in the UFC. From the brutal KO/TKO he sustained against Brian Ortega in 2018 to the crushing defeat he suffered against Max Holloway in 2019 to the devastating first-round KO/TKO he endured against Chan Sung Jung a few months later, 2021 hasn’t been any better for Edgar so far.

Earlier this year, Edgar found himself once again at the receiving end of another brutal KO/TKO finish, this time against bantamweight title contender Corey Sandhagen who delivered a flying-knee knockout blow that is currently up for Knockout of the Year. Moreover, both of Edgar’s wins went to decision, with his most recent against Pedro Munhoz coming down to a close split-decision call.

Winner: Marlon Vera

Though this is the same Frankie Edgar that won and defended the lightweight belt a decade ago, that same strength and menacing authority he demonstrated then has not been there for him over these last three years. With a string of bad defeats and a gradual drop in prominence, Edgar is up against a tall task in Vera, who’s coming off a strong win against Davey Grant. 

What makes this matchup so exciting boils down to how tough these two mixed martial artists are and just how much it will take for each to defeat the other. However, considering how well versed Vera is on the ground and in the clinch, expect him to come out on top with a big win.

4. Shane Burgos vs Billy Quarantillo

“Hurricane” Shane Burgos:

Over the course of his five-year tenure in the UFC, Shane Burgos has proven to be one impressive mixed martial artist. Prior to taking on both Josh Emmett and Edson Barboza, Burgos was actually a Top 10 fighter within the featherweight division and displayed promising potential. Following a rough KO/TKO from Calvin Kattar back in 2018, Burgos went on to win his next three straight fights, taking out opponents like Cub Swanson and Makwan Amirkhani.

However, Burgos’s last two matchups exposed a major concern with his striking approach that cost him a tough unanimous decision loss to Emmett and a brutal KO/TKO to Barboza earlier this year. Though his vision and elusiveness are quite pristine, Burgos tends to keep his hands down and often leaves his head exposed to nasty striking shots. This enabled Emmett to clip him with a hefty left hook that knocked him down in the third round and granted Barboza the chance to land a vicious right hook that sent him stumbling to the mat before getting pummeled for a KO/TKO.

After going from 10th, to 9th, to now 14th overall in the featherweight rankings, Burgos will look to come out with a big win on Saturday.

Billy Quarantillo:

Ever since Billy Quarantillo jumped onto the scene on Dana White’s contender series back in 2019, he’s been flat-out dominant in every UFC Fight Night match he’s been granted, most recently taking out Gabriel Benitez by KO/TKO earlier this year in July. His striking speed and nimble footwork allow him to pick apart his opponents and deal heavy damage.

But the one blemish Quarantillo has suffered since his UFC career began was his unanimous decision loss against Gavin Tucker. Though Tucker is a talented mixed martial artist, he’s currently unranked and was dealt a devastating knockout loss at the hands of the number nine ranked featherweight in Dan Ige. Though Burgos is no Ige, the fact that Quarantillo lost unanimously to Tucker doesn’t bode well for him, considering that Burgos is significantly better than Tucker.

In other words, Quarantillo has yet to prove that he can stand with Top 15 featherweight contenders, and his fight against Burgos will be his toughest test yet. Though he brings a strong variety of skills both with his striking and jiu-jitsu, Quarantillo will need to deliver his best performance if he intends to come out on top.

Winner: Shane Burgos

Quarantillo is on the rise and hasn’t slowed down. With a significant striking accuracy that is at 71%, Quarantillo doesn’t miss much and makes sure that he delivers the precision needed to break his opponents. Toss in his strong presence on the ground, and Quarantillo has everything he needs to snag a win from Burgos if he finds the opportunity to do so.

With that said, Burgos has the upper hand in this matchup, and for good reason. For starters, Burgos is a seasoned veteran in the UFC and has never lost more than two straight fights in a row. In addition, Burgos brings tremendous power with his striking and is currently posting a takedown defense percentage of 94. Not only will he be extremely tough to take down to the ground, but he can put away Quarantillo with one blow. At only age 30, the New York native has still so much to show for in the UFC and will look to climb his way back up the rankings with a big victory on Saturday.

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