The UFC recently revealed the initial lineup for UFC on ESPN 3, which takes place April 27 at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. The rumored main event between middleweight sluggers Yoel Romero and Paulo Costa was not officially announced, but the UFC did confirm a previously-reported light heavyweight bout between Glover Teixeira and Ion Cutelaba, as well as a bantamweight bout between John Lineker and Cory Sandhagen. You can find my recently-posted thoughts on those bouts via the hyperlinks. As for my thoughts on the other newly-announced bouts, you can read them below.
Carla Esparza vs. Livia Renato Souza, UFC on ESPN 3
The most notable of the new matchups announced is a women’s strawweight bout between Carla Esparza and Livia Renata Souza. Esparza (13-6) is 4-4 in the UFC and is a former champion, but she is coming off of a beatdown TKO loss to Tatiana Suarez. Souza (13-1) is 2-0 in the UFC and is a former Invicta champion herself, currently riding a four-fight win streak overall. This is a winnable fight for Esparza but I don’t know how anyone can have faith in her at this point. She might be a small favorite here, but all the upside is with Souza.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Augusto Sakai, UFC on ESPN 3
Heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Augusto Sakai will meet on this card. Arlovski (27-18, 1 NC) is 6-8 in his latest stint in the UFC and is currently riding a three-fight losing skid with a decision loss to Walt Harris his last time out. Sakai (12-1-1) is coming off of a TKO win over Chase Sherman in his UFC debut and is on a three-fight win streak overall. Arlovski is an easy fade at this point and I expect Sakai to bet a solid favorite here.
Jim Miller vs. Jason Gonzalez, UFC on ESPN 3
Lightweights Jim Miller and Jason Gonzalez are set to do battle. Miller (29-13, 1 NC) is 18-12, 1 NC all-time in the UFC but has fallen on hard times as of late with losses in five of his last six bouts. Gonzalez (11-4) is just 1-2 in the UFC and was finished in both his losses. Miller will be the favorite here based on name value but I don’t know if you can trust him at this point.
Dhiego Lima vs. Court McGee, UFC on ESPN 3
There’s also a welterweight bout between Dhiego Lima and Court McGee. Lima (13-7) is just 2-6 in the UFC but is coming off of a brutal KO win over Chad Laprise at UFC 231. McGee (19-7) is 8-6 in the UFC and defeated Alex Garcia via decision in his last fight. I could see this one going either way, either Lima tests McGee’s fading chin or McGee takes him down and smothers him. Look for a close betting line here, with maybe a slight lean to McGee.
Jessica Penne vs. Jodie Esquibel, UFC on ESPN 3
And finally, women’s strawweights Jessica Penne and Jodie Esquibel have been re-booked for this event as their bout at UFC on ESPN 1 recently fell through after Penne hurt her ankle in warmups. Clearly, it wasn’t a super-serious injury as she will be fighting just over a month later. Penne was a small favorite before the fight was pulled just hours before it was scheduled to occur, and I’d assume the new line will be set right where it left off.