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

Quite a few UFC heavyweights have been reserved for upcoming bouts, and I will give my thoughts on these new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Ben Rothwell vs. Blagoy Ivanov, UFC Event in March
Long-time heavvyweight contender Ben Rothwell will return to the Octagon when he chooses on Blagoy Ivanov at 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 on average only once a year, owing in part as a result of injuries and also to drug suspensions. He hasn’t fought because a decision loss to Junior dos Santos back in April 2016, after which he had been suspended by USADA for two years after testing positive for prohibited substances. But before the loss to JDS, Rothwell had won four fights in a row such as a TKO win over Alistair Overeem. He should immediately jump back in the top-15 when he returns to the cage. Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) also lost a decision to JDS in his final struggle, which had been his UFC debut. Prior to this he’d won five straight struggles in WSOF/PFL. I believe Ivanov will look better than how he did against JDS, but I would still have to lean towards Rothwell here simply due to his expertise 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 battle UFC Fight Night 146, which can be 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 unsuccessful bid to win the UFC heavyweight title, but’d conquered Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov before that. This ought to be a quality fight between two hard-hitting heavyweights, but JDS is the much more well-rounded fighter and that I expect him to be the favored here, though of course Lewis has a puncher’s chance. I’d still anticipate JDS to be a 2-to-1 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 at UFC Fight Night 146. FloCombat’s Nolan King reported the news. Hughes (10-1) has won four consecutive fights such as 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 only career reduction was a TKO defeat to Dan Spohn. Spitz (6-2) is 1-2 at the UFC with losses to Walt Harris and Mark Godbeer and a TKO win to Anthony Hamilton. The UFC has booked Hughes that a very winnable fight for his Octagon debut here against a man like Spitz who does not seem to be UFC-caliber by any means. I would expect Hughes for a giant favorite to win this battle.
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