There were several new fight announcements in the last few days, and here are my thoughts on the new fights.
Nad Narimani vs. Nasrat Haqparast, UFC Fight Night 127
Filling in on short notice for the injured Alex Reyes is Cage Warriors featherweight champion Nad Narimani, who will move up to lightweight when he takes on Nasrat Haqparast at UFC Fight Night 127. GNP1.de broke the news. The card takes place this Saturday at The O2 Arena in London, England. Narimani (10-2) is coming off of three-straight wins including an upset victory over Paddy Pimblett in his last fight. He’s a solid veteran and has earned his shot in the UFC, though he will have to move up 10lbs to do so. Haqparast (8-2) lost a decision to Marcin Held in his UFC debut but overall is a very promising prospect. He knocked out a bunch of guys on his way to the UFC and at only 22 he has a lot of time to grow into his game. This looks like a pretty competitive fight on paper, but I’m expecting Haqparast to come in as a slight favorite since he has more hype behind him.
John Lineker vs. Brian Kelleher, UFC 224
A terrific bantamweight fight between John Lineker and Brian Kelleher has been scheduled for UFC 224, which goes down Saturday, May 12 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Guilherme Cruz of MMAFighting.com confirmed the news. Lineker (30-8) is one of the top bantamweights in the sport and has an excellent 11-3 record inside the Octagon. The Brazilian is one of the most powerful punchers in the lighter weight class and has solid grappling as well. He’s coming off of a decision win over Marlon Vera and has overall won seven of his last eight fights. He’s only lost to elite fighters in both the flyweight and bantamweight divisions and is still amongst the most dangerous guys at 135. Kelleher (19-8) is 3-1 overall in the UFC and is coming off of the biggest win of his career, a decision nod over Renan Barao in his last bout. He has won two-straight fights since losing to Vera. The American called out Lineker and he got his wish as the UFC ultimately booked this fight. But it may prove to be to be a bad matchup for him. I’m expecting a competitive, exciting fight here but I definitely favor Lineker to win the bout.
Sam Alvey vs. Gian Villante, UFC Fight Night 130
The UFC has booked a light heavyweight matchup between Sam Alvey and Gian Villante for UFC Fight Night 130, according to a report by Mark LaMonica of Newsday. The card takes place June 1 at Adirondack Bank Centre in Utica, NY. Alvey (32-10, 1 NC) moved up to light heavyweight in his last outing and knocked out UFC newcomer Marcin Prachnio. He couldn’t make the 185lbs middlewight limit anymore and he could have a second win in his career at 205lbs. Villante (16-9) is coming off of a split decision win over Francimar Barroso but prior to that had lost two-straight bouts. He takes way too much damage in his fights, though he’s always in exciting battles. Despite being the bigger fighter, Villante doesn’t have the chin or the power advantage in this fight, and he gets hit way too much. I’d lean towards Alvey collecting another win at 205lbs in this one.
NSAC Suspends Calvillo, Oleksizjcuk
The Nevada State Athletic Commission announced suspensions for Cynthia Calvillo and Michal Oleksizjcuk, with Calvillo getting nine months for marijuana and Oleksizjcuk a year for clomiphene, and his win over Khalil Rountree at UFC 219 was overturned to a No Contest.