There are a few intriguing new bouts that have been revealed for upcoming fight cards, and below are my initial reactions to these bouts in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Johnny Walker vs. Misha Cirkunov, UFC 235
An injury to Ovince Saint-Preux has knocked him out of his UFC 235 matchup against Misha Cirkunov, and filling in on short notice will be Johnny Walker. UFC 235 take place March 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAFighting.com broke the news of this replacement matchup. Walker (16-3) looks like he might be the next big thing at 205lbs. The Brazilian is on an eight-fight win streak and is 2-0 in the UFC with back-to-back KOs over Justin Ledet and Khalil Rountree. He is a star in the making and this fight will give him the opportunity to beat a ranked fighter and jump into the division’s top-10. Cirkunov (14-4) is 5-1 in the UFC with all of his wins coming by stoppage, but he himself has been knocked out twice. Cirkunov was arguably the best prospect in the light heavyweight division at one point, but Walker is now, and I’d have to believe Walker will be a big favorite to win this fight.
Alejandro Perez vs. Cody Stamann, UFC 235
Due to an injury to Song Yadong, Alejandro Perez will now take on Cody Stamann at UFC 235. Perez (21-6-1) is 7-1-1 in the UFC and beat Eddie Wineland in his last fight. Stamann (17-2) is 3-1 in the UFC and is coming off of a submission loss to Aljamain Sterling. Perez has an awesome record but stylistically Stamann presents matchup problems for him. I think Perez will be the favorite due to his win streak, but Stamann is very live here.
Luis Pena vs. Steven Peterson, UFC Fight Night 148
Featherweights Luis Pena and Steven Peterson will meet at UFC Fight Night 148, taking place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Rodney James broke the news. Pena (5-1) is 1-1 in the UFC and lost a split decision to Michael Trizano his last time out. Peterson (17-7) is 1-1 in the UFC as well and is coming off of a split decision win over Matt Bessete. Close fight here between two guys who need to find some more consistency, but based on his popularity Pena will surely be the betting favorite in this one despite making his 145lbs debut.
David Branch vs. Jack Hermansson, UFC on ESPN 2
Middleweights David Branch and Jack Hermansson are set to lock horns at UFC on ESPN 2, taking place March 30 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Branch (22-5) is 2-2 in his latest stint in the UFC but is coming off of a surprising KO loss to Jared Cannonier. Hermansson (18-4) is 5-2 in the Octagon and is coming off of back-to-back stoppage wins over Thales Leites and Gerald Meerschaert. Branch was on a great win streak for a while but the two knockout losses he has in the UFC concerns me. I’d have to favor Hermansson in this one just based on his momentum and also the fact he’s the younger and bigger fighter in this matchup.