UFC 170’s loss is UFC on FOX 11’s gain. The promotion late last night announced that Rustam Khabilov vs. Rafael dos Anjos has been scratched from this month’s UFC 170 event due to an undisclosed injury to Khabilov, and now dos Anjos will move to the UFC on FOX 11 card in April, where he’ll take on Khabib Nurmagomedov in an important lightweight contest. As well, the UFC announced a middleweight bout between Yoel Romero and Brad Tavares and a lightweight tilt between Pat Healy and Jorge Masvidal will also take place at UFC on FOX 11. In addition to these three bouts, UFC on FOX 11 boasts previously announced matches of Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum, Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza and Miesha Tate vs. Liza Carmouche. So far, it’s looking like one of the best cards on paper in a long time. As far as the three new fights go, I’ll give my quick take on them now.
- dos Anjos vs. Nurmagomedov: Funny enough, dos Anjos originally thought he signed to fight “The Eagle” before learning it was actually fellow Russian Khabilov who he was tapped to face at UFC 170. As fate would have it, though, dos Anjos now gets the fight he originally wanted and he’ll take on Nurmagomedov in a lightweight fight that will send the winner into the title picture. Although dos Anjos has improved his game tremendously in recent years, especially in the takedown defence department, Nurmagomedov is a different kind of beast with his grappling and he’ll enter this fight as a heavy favorite. I’m thinking Nurmagomedov opens anywhere from -250 to -300, and while that might seem high, consider the public hype behind the young Russian is at an all-time high right now and public perception is an important part of line setting.
- Romero vs. Tavares: An excellent middleweight affair between up-and-comer Tavares and elder statesmen Romero is also set for UFC on FOX 11. This is a fantastic fight between two 185ers coming off of big wins, and it should be a lot of fun to watch. Although Romero is a powerful specimen of a man, Tavares is a very underrated fighter and is good at winning rounds on the judges’ scorecards. I think he has a good chance of grinding out Romero here, but it’s hard to bet against “Soldier of God” at the moment. Look for Romero to be around 2-to-1 and possibly even higher in this spot, but this is not a gimme fight for the Cuban. Not at all.
- Healy vs. Masvidal: And finally, a lightweight bout between Healy and American Top Team’s Masvidal will also take place at UFC on FOX 11. It’s a fun fight between two former Strikeforce veterans, but based on the styles one would figure this is Masvidal’s fight to lose as he is close in the grappling department to Healy and by far the better striker. Having said that, Healy is a tough grinder and if he can take this fight to the latter stages who knows, maybe he can pull off a submission. Still, I expect Masvidal to be around 2-to-1 here.
All in all, UFC on FOX 11 is looking extremely stacked, and I can’t wait for April to roll around so we get to see how these fights play out.