A couple of exciting welterweight bouts were revealed for upcoming March fight cards, and I’ll give my initial thoughts on these new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Curtis Millender vs. Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, UFC Fight Night 146
Surging welterweights Curtis Millender and Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos will meet at UFC Fight Night 146, which takes place March 9 at Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas. Globo revealed the news first. This is an important welterweight fight between two fighters on hot streaks that should bump the victor up into the top-10 in the world at 170lbs.
Millender (17-3) is a perfect 3-0 so far in the UFC, and he went 4-0 overall in 2018 including his time in LFA. He began his UFC debut with a bang when he knocked out Thiago Alves, then followed it up with decision wins over Max Griffin and Siyar Bahadurzada. Overall, Millender has won nine straight fights and many believe he has the potential be a future champion due to his size for the welterweight divison and his elite striking technique. Dos Santos (20-5) has gone 6-1 in the UFC and has not lost inside the Octagon since a split decision defeat to Nicholas Dalby in his debut. His last two fights were incredible as he showed off his awesome knockout power with brutal wins over Sean Strickland and Luigi Vendramini. He’s already broken into the top-15 rankings and could jump into the top-10 if he beats Millender. This is a really good, competitive fight on paper that I could see either man taking. I honestly think it’s about as close to as even of a fight as you can get, and I’m expecting a Pick ’em line at the sportsbooks.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson vs. Anthony Pettis, UFC Fight Night Nashville
Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis has decided to make the move up to welterweight, and he’ll make his debut in his new weight class against top contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in what is an intriguing battle between elite strikers. The pair will meet at a UFC Fight Night card that has not been announced yet on March 23 in Nashville, Tennessee, according to a report from ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. The scribe reports that the bout has been verbally agreed to, and the UFC should officially announce it soon.
Thompson (14-3-1) is 9-3-1 in the UFC and in his last outing lost an extremely controversial decision to Darren Till. He’s only 1-2-1 in his last four fights, but it’s hard to say he’s on a decline when two of those non-victories came against UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, and his win over Jorge Masvidal showed he’s still a top fighter at 170lbs. Pettis (21-8) is 8-7 overall in the UFC and in his last fight was TKOed by Tony Ferguson in a 2018 “Fight of the Year” contender. All of Pettis’ previous bouts came at featherweight and lightweight so this move to welterweight is intriguing. Having said that, I don’t think I could pick Pettis here just based on all the damage he’s taken as of late and the fact Thompson is a natural welterweight. Look for Thompson to open as a solid favorite here.