The time has finally come for the Main Event of UFC Jacksonville on ABC as two of the top contenders in the Featherweight (145 lb) Division will square off in an absolute banger of a fight. No. 5 ranked and former title challenger Josh Emmett will take on the undefeated force that is No. 9 ranked Ilia Topuria. A win here could put either fighter in line for an eventual title shot. Check out our UFC odds series for our Emmett-Topuria prediction and pick.
Josh Emmett is 18-3 as a professional fighter and has gone 9-3 with the UFC since joining in 2016. He's been one of the most consistent fighters in the featherweight division and arguably possesses the heaviest hands anyone has to offer. He went on a terrifying five-fight win streak that saw him dispose of top fighters like Shane Burgos, Dan Ige, and Calvin Kattar. Emmett challenged for the Interim Championship during Alexander Volkanovski's absence, but fell short to Yair Rodriguez in an exciting fight. He'll hope to climb the championship ladder once again with a win. Emmett stands 5'6″ with a 70-inch reach.
Ilia Topuria is perfect at 13-0 as a professional fighter and has won all of his five UFC fights since 2020. He's one of the more dominating prospects in the sport today and has had a scorching-hot run to the top of the division. While a number of his fights have been pulled, Topuria finished Ryan Hall, Jai Herbert, and Bryce Mitchell consecutively in his last three and has made it look easy while doing so. He's clearly ready for the top-heap and will eye a title shot with another dominant win. Topuria stands 5'7″ with a 69-inch reach.
Here are the UFC Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
UFC Jacksonville Odds: Josh Emmett-Ilia Topuria Odds
Josh Emmett: +270
Ilia Topuria: -355
Over (2.5) rounds: +174
Under (2.5) rounds: -225
How to Watch Josh Emmett vs. Ilia Topuria
Stream: ESPN+, fuboTV
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET/ 12:00 p.m. PT (Main Card)
*Watch sports LIVE with fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why Josh Emmett Will Win
At 38 years old, Josh Emmett continues to defy the odds and remains one of the most dangerous fighters in this division, despite the new crop of talent on the rise. Emmett is extremely measured in his striking approach and will use the first round of a fight to time his opponents' movements. He leads with a stiff jab and can easily break through a lazy arm guard. Emmett is most dangerous when his opponent is backing up and second-guessing themselves. From there, Emmett lands massive punches and can easily knock anyone out with the right shot. He's also a nightmare to grappling with and has extremely suffocating top pressure on the ground.
While he looked untouchable in his run to the Interim Title fight, Emmett came back down to Earth against a much more explosive and active fighter in Yair Rodriguez. Emmett had a huge mismatch in the movement of Rodriguez and couldn't get into a steady rhythm with his striking. To win this fight as a big underdog, Emmett will have to stay patient and wait until Topuria exposes himself. He'll be lacking a step in speed, but Emmett will have a puncher's chance throughout every second of this fight.
Why Ilia Topuria Will Win
Ilia Topuria has made each one of his fights to this point look easy and seems to be the next title contender in the Featherweight Division. He's a relentless grappler with a full arsenal of striking attacks. Like his opponent, Topuria has similar one-punch knockout ability and can do serious damage if he's landing his boxing combinations. He has very fast hands and is eager to use his kicks. He'll be the much faster fighter, so he should look to use those kicks and slow Emmett down even more. Topuria is also 12 years younger than Emmett and will be much more athletic in the grappling exchanges. If he can hurt Emmett with his striking, don't be surprised if he drags him down and submits him shortly after.
Topuria will have to be defensively-minded and not leave himself exposed in this one. Emmett needs just a small opening to land a devastating blow, so Topuria should look to use his speed and control the distance during this fight. We've seen him completely neutralize talented grapplers like Bryce Mitchell and while it's a big step-up in competition, don't be surprised if he can do the same to the tested veteran. As the heavy favorite, Topuria will look to dispose of Emmett quickly and take his place in the top-5 of the division.
Final Josh Emmett-Ilia Topuria Prediction & Pick
Josh Emmett looked like a world-beater in his run to the Interim Title, but he clearly struggled against a much faster and active fighter. While Emmett may be the stronger guy, he's going to have a hard time grabbing a hold of Ilia Topuria. In the striking, Topuria is simply the faster fighter and should win if he can avoid the knockout. The clear pick here is Ilia Topuria, but there's not much value on his betting line. Instead, let's take a double-chance on Topuria to get a stoppage-win. His energy and aggressive wrestling will be the difference here as he has the edge in most aspects of the fight.
Final Josh Emmett-Ilia Topuria Prediction & Pick: Ilia Topuria by KO/TKO or Submission (-250)