The UFC yesterday announced two new matchups yesterday: a middleweight bout between Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Francis Carmont and a featherweight bout between Darren Elkins and Jeremy Stephens. Let me give my take now on both fights, starting with Souza/Carmont, which is set for UFC Fight Night 36 next February in Brazil. This is a pretty bad matchup for Carmont in my opinion. Although he was able to use his size and strength in his last few fights to score decisions over Costa Philippou, Tom Lawlor and Lorenz Larkin, those fighters are inferior MMA grapplers to Carmont — OK, maybe not Lawlor, as he was robbed by the judges there, but still — and I highly doubt that Carmont will find that sort of success in the grappling department against Souza, who is a much better grappler than Carmont. Although Carmont will have the physical edge, I still don’t think he’ll be able to get Souza down to the ground, and even if he does, Souza is always extremely dangerous with his submissions. On the feet, Carmont is definitely improving, but Souza is improving at a higher rate and I’m confident in saying he is the better striker in this matchup. Although Carmont has some nice kicks and does a good job at switching stances, Souza is a much smoother boxer and if this fight against Carmont stays staying, I give him a decided advantage. Actually, I give him Souza advantage everywhere in this matchup and that’s why I’m guessing he opens around -280 or so, and possibly even higher. Those are just my initial thoughts, but I feel I have a pretty good read on both fighters and I definitely think Souza should be able to win this fight in impressive fashion. Now I’ll give my take on Elkins/Stephens, which is set to take place at January’s UFC on FOX 10 card. What a wild fight this one is, and a pretty tough one to predict the outcome of. Although Elkins is one of the best and most underrated featherweights on the planet, I think Stephens has looked absolutely sensational since dropping down to 145 and a win over Elkins would put him very close to a title shot due to his exciting style and name value. Because Elkins rarely gets respect from the betting public, I’d have to guess that Stephens actually opens as a small favorite here, possibly around -160 or so with the comeback on Elkins at +120. But to be honest, I think that Elkins’ wrestling-heavy style is very tough for anyone in the UFC featherweight division to handle and if he can get Stephens down on his back, I think he takes this fight. Still, I don’t know if I want to bet against Stephens right now considering how dominant he’s looked at 145, but again, these are just my initial thoughts and my final pick and bet will obviously depend on how the line looks when it comes out in January.