Quite a few UFC heavyweights are booked for upcoming bouts, and I’ll give my thoughts on those brand new matchups in the current MMA odds and ends.
Ben Rothwell vs. Blagoy Ivanov in March
Long-time heavvyweight contender Ben Rothwell will return to the Octagon when he chooses on Blagoy Ivanov at a yet-to-be-determined UFC event in March. MMA.bg first broke the news of this bout and Rothwell’s return into the Octagon. Rothwell (36-10) is 6-4 overall from the UFC dating back to 2009. He has fought on average only once a year, owing in part as a result of injuries and to drug suspensions. He has not fought since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, after which he was suspended by USADA for 2 years after testing positive for prohibited substances. But before the loss to JDS, Rothwell had won four fights in a row such as a TKO win over Alistair Overeem. He must immediately jump back into the top-15 if he returns into the cage. Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) also lost a choice to JDS in his last fight, which was his UFC debut. Prior to that he had won five straight fights in WSOF/PFL. I believe Ivanov will seem better than how he did against JDS, but I would still need to lean towards Rothwell here just due to his expertise and achievement in the Octagon these years.
Junior dos Santos vs. Derrick Lewis, UFC Fight Night 146
Heavyweight contenders Junior dos Santos and Derrick Lewis are set to battle UFC Fight Night 146, that is set for March 9 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. MMAjunkie.com broke the information. JDS (20-5) had a excellent comeback year in 2018 with clear victories over Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov. Lewis (21-6, 1 NC) is coming off of a submission reduction to Daniel Cormier in his unsuccessful bid to win the UFC heavyweight title, but had beaten Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov before that. This ought to be a quality battle between two hard-hitting heavyweights, but JDS is the considerably more well-rounded fighter and I expect him to be the favored here, though obviously Lewis has a puncher’s chance. I anticipate JDS for a 2-to-1 favorite here.
Jeff Hughes vs. Daniel Spitz, UFC Fight Night 146 As well, top heavyweight prospect Jeff Hughes will create his Octagon debut against Daniel Spitz in UFC Fight Night 146. The news was reported by the Nolan King of floCombat. Hughes (10-1) has won four straight fights such as a KO win over Josh Appelt on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to get him signed into the UFC. Prior to that he’d been the LFA heavyweight champion, and his only career loss was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is 1-2 at the UFC with losses to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer along with a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has booked Hughes a very winnable fight for his Octagon introduction here against a guy like Spitz who does not appear to be UFC-caliber by any way. I would expect Hughes to be a favored.
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