The UFC welterweight division continues to add new high-profile matchups. Just a few days after Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington was targeted for an interim title fight at UFC 224, two more great matchups have been booked. Here are my thoughts on those two new main events, as well as some other bouts recently announced by the UFC, listed in chronological order.
Sean Strickland vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, UFC 224
A welterweight bout between Sean Strickland and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos is the latest addition to the stacked UFC 224 card. The event takes place Saturday, May 24 at Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and this bout rumor was reported by Combate. Strickland (19-2) is an impressive 6-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a decision win over Court McGee. Dos Santos (18-5) is 4-1 in the UFC and has won “Fight of the Night” three times, including in his decision win over Max Griffin in his last fight. Both guys are excellent fighters who are constantly improving their games and I expect a very close betting line here.
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Kamaru Usman, UFC Chile
A welterweight bout between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Kamaru Usman has been officially announced by the UFC as the headliner of UFC Fight Night 129, which takes place Saturday, May 19 at Movistar Arena in Santiago, Chile. Ponzinibbio (26-3) is 8-2 in the UFC and is currently riding a six-fight win streak, with a decision win over Mike Perry his last time out. Usman (12-1) is a perfect 7-0 in the UFC and defeated Emil Weber Meek in his last outing. Both guys are elite welterweights and this should be a great fight. Look for Usman to be favored heading into this fight due to his wrestling advantage.
Darren Till vs. Stephen Thompson, UFC Liverpool
A welterweight showdown between Darren Till and Stephen Thompson is expected to headline UFC Fight Night 130, which takes place Sunday, May 27 at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. BJPenn.com reported the matchup. Till (16-0-1) is 4-0-1 in the UFC and knocked out Donald Cerrone in spectacular fashion in his last fight. Thompson (14-2-1) is 9-2-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Jorge Masvidal. This is one hell of a matchup between two of the welterweight division’s elite strikers. All the hype is behind Till right now so I think he’ll be favored, but I personally favor Thompson to win this fight and will be eyeing him as an underdog. I’ll be very curuous to see how the public swings the odds for this one.
Dan Ige vs. Mike Santiago, UFC 225
And finally, a welterweight bout between Dan Ige and Mike Santiago is heading to UFC 225, which takes place Saturday, June 9 at United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The UFC confirmed the booking. Ige (8-2) recently made his UFC debut but lost a unanimous decison to Julio Arce. Santiago (20-11) has lost both of his UFC fights so far against Zabit Magomedshapirov and Mads Burnell. Neither fighter looks like they’ll stick around the Octagon for long but I’d imagine Ige is a slight favorite heading into this one.