The UFC continued their recent series of struggle announcements late into the week, and also the newly-revealed bouts are recorded below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Saparbek Safarov vs. Nick Negumereanu Due to an injury to Gokhan Saki, light heavyweight Saparbek Safarov will take on Octagon newcomer Nick Negumereanu at UFC Fight Night 147, set for March 16 at The O2 Arena in London, England. The news was broken by nolan King of FloCombat. Safarov (8-2) has been finished by Gian Villante and Tyson Pedro in his initial two UFC fights and that he hasn’t fought in over a year now. Negumereanu (9-0) is an undefeated 24-year-old prospect fighting from Romania who has completed all of his pre-UFC competitions inside the space. Despite taking the fight on short notice and creating his Octagon debut, I enjoy Negumereanu to win this particular battle. It is a pure fade on the chinny Safarov, that I expect to get cut from the UFC when he loses this fight. The chances are already out for this one, and indeed the UFC newcomer is a 2-to-1 preferred to get his hand raised.
Marlon Vera vs. Frankie Saenz The UFC has re-booked the bantamweight bout between Marlon Vera and Frankie Saenz that has been scrapped days ahead of UFC 235 for UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. Vera (12-5-1) is 6-4 at the UFC and is coming from back-to-back stoppage wins over Guido Cannetti and Wuliji Buren. Saenz (13-5) is 5-3 at the UFC and conquered Henry Briones and Merab Dvalishvili in his last two bouts by choice. I don’t see the line shifting much from where it shut before Saenz got hurt. Start looking for the line to be identical to that which it finished it, with Vera as a close 2-to-1 favourite.
Poliana Botelho vs. Lauren Mueller, UFC 236
Because of an arm injury, Paige VanZant is from her women’s flyweight bout against Poliana Botelho in UFC 236 and instead Lauren Mueller is taking the battle. The card is set for April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Botelho (7-2) is 2-1 at the UFC but lost by submission to Cynthia Calvillo in her last fight. Mueller (5-1) is 1-1 in the UFC but was filed by Yanan Wu in her final struggle. It is another battle involving two flawed fighters who may go either way, but according to title value I would anticipate Botelho to be favored here.
Greg Hardy vs. Dmitry Smoliakov, UFC on ESPN 3
Controversial heavyweight Greg Hardy will return at UFC on ESPN 3 against Dmitry Smoliakov. The card is currently set for April 27 in BB&T Center at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Igor Lazorin broke the news. Hardy (3-1) dropped by DQ to Allen Crowder in his UFC debut as a huge favorite but had won his three prior pro MMA bouts by knockout. Smoliakov (9-2) has been finished at bout of his UFC appearances before bouncing back with a submission win on the Russian regional arena in January. But at 36 decades of age he has no upside and the UFC is bringing him in here to lose. I would not advocate putting the juice on Hardy after what occurred in his UFC debut, but I fully expect him to become a monster favored yet again for this particular fight.
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