The UFC has been occupied 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 long layoff when he takes on Michael Johnson in UFC on ESPN 2, which takes place March 30 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ESPN broke news of this struggle. Emmett (13-2) is 4-2 at the UFC but hasn’t fought because a brutal KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018. He rocketed up the rankings with a knockout win over Ricardo Lamas however, the reduction to Stephens where he broke his nose was a significant 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. But he had lost three consecutive fights before that. Though Johnson is inconsistent, we know how great he is when he is at his best, and with Emmett coming off of such a long layoff you need to fade him and favor Johnson to win this fight.
Ray Borg vs. Pingyuan Liu, UFC on ESPN 2 Ray Borg will move up to bantamweight when he takes on Pingyuan Liu in UFC on ESPN 2. The Philly Voice broke news. Borg (11-3) is 5-3 in the UFC but has not fought as a submission reduction to Demetrious Johnson in October 2017. He was one of the best flyweights in the UFC but will soon probably be moving up to bantamweight today and it will be interesting to see if 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. Though he is going up to bantamweight, there’s no doubt Borg is going to be a big favorite here just according to his UFC expertise 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’s heavyweight MMA so you can’t ever be sure of the result, but I believe Tybura is the better fighter and ought to be preferred here.
Emil Weber Meek vs. Sultan Aliev, UFC Fight Night 149
Welterweights Emil Weber Meek and Sultan Aliev will even meet at UFC Fight Night 149. Meek (9-4, 1 NC) is currently 1-2 at the UFC and is coming off of consecutive declines to Kamaru Usman and Bartosz Fabinski. Aliev (14-3) is 1-2 at the UFC and is coming from a TKO loss to Warlley Alves. Both guys are disappointments in the UFC, but Meek generally gets more respect from bettors and that I suppose he will be preferred here.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Roman Kopylov, UFC Fight Night 149
And finally, a middleweight bout will see Krzysztof Jotko take on UFC newcomer Roman Kopylov in UFC Fight Night 149. Jotko (19-4) is 6-4 in the UFC however 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 is hard to back Jotko after his recent win streak, and I expect the undefeated Kopylov are the preferred here.
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