UFC Ft. Lauderdale is set to take place April 27 at BB&T Center, and the main event was expected to be a five-round middleweight bout between Yoel Romero and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. Unfortunately, Romero has pulled out with injury and the UFC is scrambling to find a new opponent for Souza. A few other bouts on the card have also seen changes occur, and I’ll give my initial thoughts on them below.
Alex Oliveira vs. Mike Perry, UFC on ESPN 3
An exciting welterweight bout between Alex Oliveira and Mike Perry will take place at UFC on ESPN 3. ESPN first broke the news that Perry is filling in on short notice for the injured Li Jingliang.
Oliveira (19-6-1, 2 NC) is 9-4, 1 NC in the UFC and is coming off of a brutal submission loss to Gunnar Nelson in his last fight. He’s always in exciting fights win-or-lose, but is lacking that signature victory and hasn’t yet proven he can take the next step into contender status. Perry (12-4) has a 5-4 record in the UFC but was submitted by Donald Cerrone in his last fight. We all know he has knockout power, but he hasn’t shown much else besides his punching power. This one could go either way as both men are offensively talented yet defensively flawed. I’d have to favor Oliveira as he’s better on the ground, but Perry is certainly live in this fight with his KO power.
Carla Esparza vs. Virna Jandiroba, UFC on ESPN 3
Due to an injury to Livia Renata Souza, Carla Esparza will now face Virna Jandiroba in a women’s strawweight bout. Combate broke the news. Esparza (13-6) is the former UFC women’s strawweight champion and has a 4-4 record overall in the Octagon, including a TKO loss to Tatiana Suarez in her last outing. Jandiroba (14-0) was the Invicta women’s strawweight champion after going 3-0 in the promotion. Esparza will likely be favored due to having more UFC experience, but the unbeaten Jandiroba is absolutely a live dog in this fight.
Ben Saunders vs. Takashi Sato, UFC on ESPN 3
Also added to UFC on ESPN 3 is a welterweight bout between Ben Saunders and Takashi Sato. Asian MMA broke the news. Saunders (22-11-2) is just 2-4 in his third stint in the UFC, and is coming off of back-to-back stoppage losses to Lyman Good and Sergio Moraes. He looks to be on quite the decline. Sato (14-2) is a Pancrase vet who won his last fight, but overall looks like a questionable signing by the UFC. Given Saunders is from Florida, maybe the UFC thinks they are giving him a winnable fight here, but Sato may surprise and get the knockout win.
Gilbert Burns vs. Eric Wisely, UFC on ESPN 3
Lightweights Gilbert Burns and Eric Wisely are set to meet. Combate had the news. Burns (14-3) is 7-3 in the UFC and is coming off of a decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Wisely (30-9-1) is making his return to the Octagon after going unbeaten over his last nine fights on the regional circuit. He had one previous stint in the UFC back in 2012, when he went 0-2. This is a weird fight, and the only thing I can think of is that no one wanted to fight Burns, who I expect to be a massive favorite to defeat Wisely.
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Thomas Gifford, UFC on ESPN 3
And finally, lightweights Roosevelt Roberts and Thomas Gifford will meet at UFC on ESPN 3. Roberts (7-0) has finished all of his pro fights including a submission win over Darrell Horcher in his UFC debut. Gifford (14-7, 2 NC) is making his UFC debut after going undefeated over his last five bouts on the regional circuit. Gifford seems like a decent prospect but Roosevelt has already proven he can win in the UFC and I expect him to be favored quite heavily in this one.