The UFC was busy announcing bouts for upcoming fight cards in recent weeks, and below are my thoughts on a few of the newly-announced bouts for UFC Philadelphia and UFC Russia.
Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson, UFC on ESPN 2 Featherweight contender Josh Emmett will return from a lengthy layoff when he takes on Michael Johnson in UFC on ESPN two, which takes place March 30 in Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ESPN broke news of this struggle. Emmett (13-2) is currently 4-2 at the UFC but hasn’t fought since a brutal KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018. He rocketed up the rankings with a knockout win over Ricardo Lamas but the reduction to Stephens at which he broke his nose was a big setback. Johnson (19-13) is 11-9 in the UFC and is coming from back-to-back decision wins over Andre Fili and Artem Lobov. However, he’d lost three straight fights prior to that. Although Johnson is inconsistent, we understand how good he is when he is at his best, as well as Emmett coming from such a long layoff you need to fade him here and prefer Johnson to win this fight.
Ray Borg vs. Pingyuan Liu, UFC on ESPN 2 Ray Borg will proceed up to bantamweight when he chooses on Pingyuan Liu in UFC on ESPN 2. The Philly Voice broke news. Borg (11-3) is currently 5-3 at the UFC but has not fought since a submission loss to Demetrious Johnson in October 2017. He was one of the greatest flyweights in the UFC but will soon be moving up to bantamweight today and it’s going to be intriguing to see whether he can make a run in his new weight class. Liu (13-5) is riding a nine-fight win series including a 2-0 mark at the Octagon with wins over Damian Stasiak and Martin Day. Even though he is moving up to bantamweight, there’s no doubt Borg will be a large favorite here just based on his UFC experience and degree of competition.
Marcin Tybura vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov, UFC Fight Night 149
Heavyweights Marcin Tybura and Shamil Abdurakhimov will square off UFC Fight Night 149, set for April 20 in Yubileyny Sports Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tybura (17-4) is 4-3 in the UFC and chose over Stefan Struve in his last outing. Abdurakhimov (19-4) is currently 4-2 at the UFC and is coming from back-to-back wins over Andrei Arlovski and Chase Sherman. It is heavyweight MMA so that you can never be certain of the result, but I believe Tybura is the better fighter and should be favored here.
Emil Weber Meek vs. Sultan Aliev, UFC Fight Night 149
Welterweights Emil Weber Meek and Sultan Aliev will also fulfill at UFC Fight Night 149. Meek (9-4, 1 NC) is currently 1-2 at the UFC and is coming off of successive declines to Kamaru Usman and Bartosz Fabinski. Aliev (14-3) is 1-2 at the UFC and is coming off of a TKO loss to Warlley Alves. Both guys are disappointments in the UFC, but Meek usually gets more respect from bettors and that I assume he will be favored here.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Roman Kopylov, UFC Fight Night 149
And lastly, a middleweight bout will see Krzysztof Jotko take on UFC newcomer Roman Kopylov at UFC Fight Night 149. Jotko (19-4) is 6-4 at the UFC but is driving a three-fight losing skid including back-to-back KO declines to Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. Kopylov (8-0) is making his UFC debut after going undefeated in the Russian regional arena. It’s difficult to back Jotko following his recent win streak, and I anticipate the undefeated Kopylov to be the preferred here.
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