MMA ODDS AND ENDS FOR WEDNESDAY: HIGH-PROFILE UFC HEAVYWEIGHTS BACK IN ACTION

Quite a few UFC heavyweights have been booked for upcoming bouts, and I’ll present my thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ben Rothwell vs. Blagoy Ivanov in March
Long-time heavvyweight contender Ben Rothwell will return to the Octagon if he takes on Blagoy Ivanov in a yet-to-be-determined UFC event in March. MMA.bg first broke the news of the bout and Rothwell’s return to the Octagon. Rothwell (36-10) is 6-4 overall in the UFC dating back to 2009. He’s fought only once a year, owing in part due to accidents and also to medication suspensions. He has not fought since a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, and he had been suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for banned 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 into the cage. Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) also lost a choice to JDS in his final struggle, which had been his UFC debut. Prior to that he had won five straight struggles in WSOF/PFL. I think Ivanov will seem better than how he did against JDS, but I’d still need to lean Rothwell here just due to his expertise and achievement 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 battle UFC Fight Night 146, which is set for March 9 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. MMAjunkie.com broke the information. JDS (20-5) had a excellent 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 failed 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 would still expect JDS to be a 2-to-1 favorite here.
Jeff Hughes vs. Daniel Spitz, UFC Fight Night 146 At the same time, top heavyweight prospect Jeff Hughes will create his Octagon debut against Daniel Spitz at UFC Fight Night 146. That the news was reported by the Nolan King of floCombat. Hughes (10-1) has won four consecutive fights including a KO win over Josh Appelt on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series to get him signed into the UFC. Prior to that he’d been the LFA heavyweight champion, and his lone career reduction was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is currently 1-2 at the UFC with losses to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer along with a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has reserved Hughes a very winnable fight for his Octagon debut here against a guy like Spitz who does not appear to be UFC-caliber by any means. I’d expect Hughes for a giant favorite.
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