A number of UFC heavyweights have been reserved for upcoming bouts, and I will give my thoughts on those brand new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ben Rothwell vs. Blagoy Ivanov, UFC Event at March
Long-time heavvyweight contender Ben Rothwell will return to the Octagon if he chooses on Blagoy Ivanov in a yet-to-be-determined UFC event in March. MMA.bg first broke the news of this bout and Rothwell’s return to the Octagon. Rothwell (36-10) is 6-4 overall in the UFC dating back to 2009. He has fought only once a year, owing in part due to injuries and to drug suspensions. He hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, and he was suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for prohibited substances. However, prior to the loss to JDS, Rothwell had won four fights in a row including a TKO win over Alistair Overeem. He must immediately jump back into the top-15 if 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 this he’d won five straight struggles in WSOF/PFL. I think Ivanov will look better than how he did against JDS, but I’d still need to lean Rothwell here simply 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 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 apparent victories over Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov. Lewis (21-6, 1 NC) is coming from 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 much more well-rounded fighter and I expect him to be the favored here, though obviously Lewis has a puncher’s chance. I’d 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. The news was reported by floCombat’s Nolan King. Hughes (10-1) has won four straight fights such as a KO win over Josh Appelt on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series for him signed into the UFC. Prior to that he’d been the LFA heavyweight champion, and his only career reduction was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is 1-2 in the UFC with losses to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer and a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has booked Hughes a very winnable fight for his Octagon debut here against a man like Spitz who doesn’t seem to be UFC-caliber by any way. I would expect Hughes to be a favored to win this battle.
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