The UFC has been busy announcing new fights. Below are some of the new upcoming bouts set for spring UFC cards, and my initial thoughts on them.
Michel Prazeres vs. Ismail Naurdiev, UFC Fight Night 145
Due to an injury to Ramazan Emeev, Ismail Naurdiev has taken a short-notice fight against Michel Prazeres at UFC Fight Night 145, taking place February 23 at The O2 Arena in Prague, Czech Republic. MMABrasil broke the news. Prazeres (26-2) is 10-2 in the UFC overall and is riding an eight-fight win streak at the moment. He had trouble making the lightweight limit of 155lbs and since moving up to welterweight has arguably looked even better with back-to-back wins over Zak Cummings and Bartosz Fabinski. Naurdiev (17-2) is making his UFC debut on the strength of back-to-back knockout wins. He has experience fighting in ACB, and the majority of his wins have come by stoppage. But he has also fought a very low level of competition and Prazeres is a major step up. I expect Prazeres to be a solid favorite here, and he deserves it after the recent run he’s went on inside the Octagon.
Enrique Barzola vs. Kevin Aguilar, UFC on ESPN 2
Featherweights Enrique Barzola and Kevin Aguilar are set to meet at UFC on ESPN 2, taking place March 30 at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. MMAWeekly broke the news. Barzola (15-3-1) is 5-1 in the UFC and is currently riding a four-fight win streak with all of his wins coming by decision. Barzola’s record is impressive, but his lack of finishing instincts could hurt him as he progresses up the featherweight ranks. Aguilar (16-1) is coming off of a successful UFC debut when he won a unanimous decision over Rick Glenn, and overall he’s riding an eight-fight win streak. His only career loss came against Leonard Garcia back in 2013, but otherwise he’s been perfect in his MMA career. This is a pretty solid matchup between two guys on win streaks but based on his ability to actually finish a fight I’d have to favor Aguilar to get his hand raised.
Tom Breese vs. Ian Heinisch, UFC Fight Night 147
Due to an injury to Cezar Ferreira, Ian Heinisch is stepping up as an injury replacement to take on Tom Breese at UFC Fight Night 147, taking place March 16 at The O2 Arena in London, England. Breese (11-1) is 4-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a TKO win over Dan Kelly in his middleweight debut. Heinisch (12-1) is currently riding a four-fight win streak and is coming off of a successful UFC debut when he defeated the aforementioned Ferreira by decision. His only career defeat came against Markus Perez, who just submitted Anthony Hernandez at UFC Fight Night 144. This looks like a really solid matchup between two middleweights with future title aspirations. Both Breese and Heinisch are very well-rounded fighters and this is going to be a close fight. I’d have to favor Breese just based on the fact the fight is in England, but I expect Heinisch to be very competitive in this matchup and he could be worth looking at as a dog.