NEW UFC BOUTS ANNOUNCED INCLUDING RETURN OF GREG HARDY

The UFC continued their recent series of fight announcements late to the week, and also the newly-revealed bouts are listed below in today’s MMA odds and ends.
UFC Fight Night 147 vs. Nick Negumereanu, saparbek Safarov Because of an injury to Gokhan Saki, light heavyweight Saparbek Safarov will now take on Octagon newcomer Nick Negumereanu in UFC Fight Night 147, set for March 16 in The O2 Arena in London, England. Nolan King of FloCombat broke the news. Safarov (8-2) has been completed by Gian Villante and Tyson Pedro in his initial two UFC fights and he hasn’t fought in over a year now. Negumereanu (9-0) is an undefeated 24-year-old prospect fighting from Romania who has completed all of his pre-UFC competitions within the distance. Despite taking the fight on short notice and creating his Octagon introduction, I enjoy Negumereanu to win this battle. It’s a pure grin about the chinny Safarov, who I expect to get cut out of the UFC if he loses this battle. The odds are already out with this one, and really the UFC newcomer is a 2-to-1 favorite to receive his hand raised.
Marlon Vera vs. Frankie Saenz 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 in Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tennessee. Vera (12-5-1) is 6-4 in 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 conquered Henry Briones and Merab Dvalishvili in his last two bouts by decision. I really don’t see the lineup shifting much from where it closed before Saenz got injured. Start looking for the line to be equal to what it ended it, with Vera as a near 2-to-1 favorite.
Poliana Botelho vs. Lauren Mueller, UFC 236
Because of an arm injury, Paige VanZant is out of her women’s flyweight bout against Poliana Botelho in UFC 236 and instead Lauren Mueller is taking the fight. The card has been set for April 13 in State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Botelho (7-2) is 2-1 at the UFC but dropped by entry to Cynthia Calvillo in her final struggle. Mueller (5-1) is 1-1 at the UFC but has been submitted by Yanan Wu in her final fight. It is another battle involving two flawed fighters who may go either way, but based on title value I would anticipate Botelho to be favored 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 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Igor Lazorin broke the information. Hardy (3-1) lost by DQ to Allen Crowder in his UFC debut as a massive favorite but had won his three prior pro MMA bouts by knockout. Smoliakov (9-2) has been finished in bout of his UFC looks before bouncing back with a entry win over the Russian regional arena in January. But at 36 decades of age he has no upside and the UFC is bringing him in here to shed. I wouldn’t advocate putting the juice Hardy after what happened in his UFC debut, but I fully expect him to be a monster favorite yet again for this particular fight.
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