The UFC is headed back to the City of Brotherly Love later this month, and a couple fights have been added on short notice. UFC on ESPN 2 takes place March 30 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and my initial thoughts on these new bouts are below.
Kevin Holland vs. Gerald Meerschaert, UFC on ESPN 2
Middleweights Kevin Holland Gerald Meerschaert are set to clash at UFC on ESPN 2 in what should be a fun fight for the fans. The Philly Voice broke the news. Holland (13-4) dropped a decision to Thiago Santos in his UFC debut but rebounded nicely with a submission win over John Phillips. Overall, he’s won five of his last six fights. Meerschaert (28-10) is 4-2 in the UFC but is coming off of a submission loss to Jack Hermansson. Both Holland and Meerschaert are very underrated and exciting fighters at middleweight, but given Holland’s youth and physical advantages in this fight, I would make him the favorite here.
Ray Borg vs. Kyler Phillips, UFC on ESPN 2
Due to an injury to Pingyuan Liu, Ray Borg now meets short-notice replacement opponent Kyler Phillips in a bantamweight bout. Borg (11-3) is 5-3 overall in the UFC but hasn’t fought since a submission loss to Demetrious Johnson in October 2017. He has dealt with a lot in his young career and hopefully he can put the past behind him. Phillips (6-1) is making his UFC debut after picking up a head kick KO in LFA just a few weeks ago. He’s a veteran of the Contender Series and looks like a very promising prospect, however, he lacks the UFC experience that Borg has. I think Phillips has a chance to win this fight, but you still have to favor Borg.
Alex Perez vs. Mark de la Rosa, UFC on ESPN 2
Moving up from flyweight to bantamweight is Alex Perez, and he’ll take on Mark de la Rosa. Perez (21-5) won his first three UFC fights before getting knocked out by Joseph Benavidez in his last outing. Prior to that, he was riding an eight-fight win streak. De la Rosa (11-1) is 2-1 in the UFC and his wife Montana de la Rosa is having a lot of success in the Octagon, but the fact he struggled in a narrow split decision win over Joby Sanchez was troubling. Like most bantamweight bouts, this should be competitive, but I’d still favor Perez to get his hand raised.
John Makdessi vs. Jesus Pinedo, UFC Fight Night 148
Due to injuries to Chris Gruetzemacher and Nasrat Haqparast, their original opponents John Makdessi and Jesus Pinedo will now fight at UFC Fight Night 148, taking place March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Considering both men are lightweights who just lost their opponents, this was the way to keep both men on the card. Makdessi (16-6) is 9-6 in the UFC and is coming off of back-to-back wins over Ross Pearson and Abel Trujillo. Pinedo (16-4-1) is on a seven-fight win streak and beat Devin Powell by decision in his UFC debut. Makdessi has a ton of experience in the Octagon but Pinedo is just 22-years-old and looks like a great prospect. I’d expect a close line here but given Pinedo’s youth and upside he’s probably the play in this one.