Quite a few UFC heavyweights are reserved for upcoming bouts, and I’ll present my thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ben Rothwell vs. Blagoy Ivanov at March
Long-time heavvyweight contender Ben Rothwell will return to the Octagon when he chooses on Blagoy Ivanov in a yet-to-be-determined UFC event in March. MMA.bg first broke the news of the bout and Rothwell’s return into the Octagon. Rothwell (36-10) is 6-4 overall in the UFC dating back to 2009. He’s fought only once per year, owing in part due to injuries and also to drug suspensions. He hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, and he had been suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for prohibited substances. However, before the reduction to JDS, Rothwell had won four fights in a row such as a TKO win over Alistair Overeem. He must immediately jump back in the top-15 when he returns to the cage. Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) also lost a decision to JDS in his last struggle, which had been his UFC debut. Prior to that he had won five straight fights in WSOF/PFL. I think Ivanov will seem better than how he did against JDS, but I’d still have to lean Rothwell here just due to his experience and success 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, which is set for March 9 in Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. MMAjunkie.com broke the news. JDS (20-5) had a excellent comeback year in 2018 with apparent victories over Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov. Lewis (21-6, 1 NC) is coming from a submission reduction to Daniel Cormier in his failed bid to win the UFC heavyweight title, but’d conquered Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov before that. This ought to be a quality fight between two hard-hitting heavyweights, but JDS is the much more well-rounded fighter and that I expect him to be the favorite here, though of course Lewis has a puncher’s chance. I’d still anticipate JDS to be a 2-to-1 favorite here.
UFC Fight Night 146 vs. Daniel Spitz, jeff Hughes At the same time, top heavyweight prospect Jeff Hughes will create his Octagon debut against Daniel Spitz at UFC Fight Night 146. That the news was reported by floCombat’s Nolan King. Hughes (10-1) has won four straight fights including 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 had been the LFA heavyweight champion, and his lone career reduction was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is currently 1-2 in the UFC with reductions to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer along with also a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has booked Hughes a very winnable fight for his Octagon debut here against a guy like Spitz who doesn’t seem to be UFC-caliber by any means. I’d expect Hughes to be a favorite to win this fight.
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