This Saturday, fifth-ranked Josh “The Fighting Falmer” Emmett and fast-rising Ilia “El Matador” Topuria meet in the UFC octagon.
The featherweight contenders will square off in Jacksonville, Florida, topping the night’s Ultimate Fighting Championship card.
While days tick down for their match, the moneyline betting odds, at the time of writing, is 5/2 for Emmett and 3/10 for Topuria. According to the handicappers, it gives Tuporia a chance of winning that exceeds 75 percent.
Emmett’s march to this big fight has been a steep one. It began with collegiate wrestling in high school and college.
The Arizona native who grew up in Sacramento, California, postponed his career as a professional MMA fighter in order to finish college, though he never stopped grappling in his bid to become one of the highest paid UFC fighters around.
After putting in time as a member of the elite Team Alpha Male, he became an MMA pro and won nine fights while losing none.
In 2016, Emmett joined UFC. Cutting a striking figure with his shaved head, intense stare and fierce tattoos, he’ll be entering the octagon with a UFC record of 9-3-0.
Emmett is famous for what Fox Sports in Australia characterizes as his “one-punch knockout power that could turn his opponents lights out at any given moment.”
And after a controversial and debilitating defeat at the hands of Jeremy Stephens in 2018, which would have sidelined a lesser man forever, there is no question as to Emmett’s toughness and resiliency.
After enduring potentially illegal elbows to the head, Emmett suffered a concussion and injuries that left him with no feeling in his face. They combined to take him out of action for 13 months.
Once recovering, however, he has not slowed down at all. Earlier this year, he told Fox, “I’m only focused on winning and things that are going to get me to winning the title. I’m not focused on anything else because it is just noise to me.”
He'll get his chance to step toward that title on Saturday and UFC commentators are eagerly anticipating one of the fights of the year.
But Ilia Topuria will do everything imaginable to stop him. Topuria, with his perfect UFC record of 5-0 has had his eye on the prize for a long time.
Born in Germany, he and his family moved to Spain when he was 15. Topuria had already cut his teeth on wrestling. But, right after arriving in Spain, he took up MMA.
Three years later, following his 18th birthday, Topuria turned pro and his journey into the world of UFC betting tips was only just beginning.
He signed with UFC five years after that and fought his first match, without much in the way of advance notice, against Youssef Zalal. Topuria aced the fight by unanimous decision. With that, his elite career was launched.
Over his next four fights, Topuria established himself as a dangerous man. In confronting El Matador, Emmett will need to take special care to protect his mid-section. Topuria, with his Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt, is notorious for being a punishing body hitter.
Outside of the ring, he is a world-class trash talker. Referring to Emmett, Topuria told ESPN Deportes, “He’ll be proud to share the cage with me for the rest of the night … He’s perfect to be finished in the first round … My only concern is that he shows up on fight night.”
Emmett failing to show up is not among the prop bets on offer, though the match-up may be closer than the handicapping numbers indicate.
According to Betting Insider Journal, Topuria is only a “slight favorite to win,” which might lead the smart money to bet the dog on fight-night this weekend.
Apparently, Stephens agrees, as he gushed enthusiastically about the inner strength of the man he nearly put out of MMA. Likening Emmett to “the Terminator,” he described him as “the toughest guy … I’m most impressed by Josh Emmett. Dude, I’m a fan.”