The UFC continued their current string of fight announcements late to the week, and the newly-revealed bouts are listed below in the MMA odds and ends.
Saparbek Safarov vs. Nick Negumereanu, UFC Fight Night 147 Because of an injury to Gokhan Saki, light heavyweight Saparbek Safarov will take on Octagon newcomer Nick Negumereanu in UFC Fight Night 147, set for March 16 in The O2 Arena in London, England. The news was broken by nolan King of FloCombat. Safarov (8-2) was 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 a undefeated 24-year-old prospect fighting from Romania that has finished all of his pre-UFC opponents inside the distance. Despite taking the fight on short notice and making his Octagon introduction, I like Negumereanu to win this particular fight. It’s a pure fade about the chinny Safarov, who I hope to get cut out of the UFC if he loses this battle. The odds are already out with this one, and indeed the UFC newcomer is a 2-to-1 favorite to get his hands raised.
Marlon Vera vs. Frankie Saenz, UFC Fight Night 148 The UFC has re-booked that the bantamweight bout between Marlon Vera and Frankie Saenz which was scrapped days ahead of UFC 235 for UFC Fight Night 148, which takes place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. Vera (12-5-1) is 6-4 at the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back stoppage wins over Guido Cannetti and Wuliji Buren. Saenz (13-5) is 5-3 in the UFC and defeated Henry Briones and Merab Dvalishvili in his last two bouts by decision. I really don’t see the line changing much from where it closed before Saenz got injured. Look for the line to be identical to that which it finished it, with Vera as a near 2-to-1 favorite.
Poliana Botelho vs. Lauren Mueller, UFC 236
Due to an arm injury, Paige VanZant is from her women’s flyweight bout against Poliana Botelho at UFC 236 and instead Lauren Mueller is taking the fight. 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 entry to Cynthia Calvillo in her last fight. Mueller (5-1) is 1-1 at the UFC but was filed by Yanan Wu in her last fight. It’s another battle involving two faulty fighters who could go either way, but based on title worth I’d expect Botelho to be preferred 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 set for April 27 at BB&T Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Igor Lazorin broke the information. Hardy (3-1) dropped by DQ to Allen Crowder in his UFC debut as a huge favored but had won his three prior pro MMA bouts by knockout. Smoliakov (9-2) has been completed in bout of his UFC appearances before bouncing back with a entry win on the Russian regional scene in January. But at 36 decades old he does not have any upside and the UFC is bringing him here to lose. I would not trust laying the juice Hardy after what happened in his UFC debut, but I fully expect him to be a monster favored yet again for this particular fight.
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