The UFC continued their recent series of fight announcements late to the week, and the newly-revealed bouts are listed below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Saparbek Safarov vs. Nick Negumereanu Because of an injury to Gokhan Saki, light heavyweight Saparbek Safarov will now take on Octagon newcomer Nick Negumereanu at 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 first two UFC fights and he hasn’t fought in over a year today. Negumereanu (9-0) is an undefeated 24-year-old prospect fighting out of Romania who has completed all his pre-UFC opponents within the distance. Despite taking the fight on short notice and making his Octagon debut, I like Negumereanu to win this fight. It is a pure grin on the chinny Safarov, who I hope to get cut from the UFC if 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 hands raised.
UFC Fight Night 148 vs. Frankie Saenz, marlon Vera 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 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. Vera (12-5-1) is 6-4 in the UFC and is coming from 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 choice. I don’t see the lineup changing much from where it closed before Saenz got injured. Start looking for the line to be identical to that which it ended it, with Vera as a close 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 in UFC 236 and rather Lauren Mueller is shooting the battle. The card has been set for April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Botelho (7-2) is 2-1 in the UFC but dropped by entry to Cynthia Calvillo in her last struggle. Mueller (5-1) is 1-1 at the UFC but was submitted by Yanan Wu in her final fight. It’s another fight between two flawed fighters that may go either way, but according to title worth I would anticipate 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 in 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 favorite but’d won his three former pro MMA bouts by knockout. Smoliakov (9-2) was completed in bout of his UFC appearances before bouncing back with a submission win over the Russian regional arena in January. But at 36 years of age he has no upside and the UFC is bringing him in here to lose. I wouldn’t trust laying the juice on Hardy after what happened in his UFC debut, but I fully expect him to be a monster favored yet again for this fight.
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