Quite a few UFC heavyweights have been booked for upcoming bouts, and I’ll give my thoughts on those 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 the 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 per year, owing in part as a result of injuries and also to medication suspensions. He has not fought since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, after which he had been suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for banned substances. However, before the loss to JDS, Rothwell had won four fights in a row including a TKO win over Alistair Overeem. He must immediately jump back in the top-15 if he returns to the cage. Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) also lost a decision to JDS in his final fight, which had been his UFC debut. Prior to that he’d won five straight fights in WSOF/PFL. I think Ivanov will seem better than how he did against JDS, but I would still need to lean towards Rothwell here just because of his expertise and success in the Octagon all these years.
Junior dos Santos vs. Derrick Lewis, UFC Fight Night 146
Heavyweight contenders Junior dos Santos and Derrick Lewis are set to clash at UFC Fight Night 146, that is set for March 9 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. MMAjunkie.com broke the news. JDS (20-5) had a great comeback year in 2018 with clear victories over Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov. Lewis (21-6, 1 NC) is coming off of a submission loss to Daniel Cormier in his failed bid to win the UFC heavyweight title, but’d beaten Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov before that. This should be a quality battle between two hard-hitting heavyweights, but JDS is the much more well-rounded fighter and that I expect him to be the favored here, though of course Lewis has a puncher’s chance. I would still anticipate JDS for a favorite here.
UFC Fight Night 146 vs. Daniel Spitz, jeff Hughes At the same time, top heavyweight prospect Jeff Hughes will make his Octagon debut against Daniel Spitz in UFC Fight Night 146. FloCombat’s Nolan King reported that the news. Hughes (10-1) has won four consecutive fights such as a KO win over Josh Appelt on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series for him signed to the UFC. Prior to this he had been the LFA heavyweight champion, and his lone career loss was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is 1-2 at the UFC with reductions to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer and a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has booked Hughes that a very winnable fight because of his Octagon debut here against a man like Spitz who doesn’t seem to be UFC-caliber by any way. I would expect Hughes for a giant favorite to win this battle.
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