A brand new batch of bouts have been announced for an upcoming UFC card in Brazil next year. Below are the new fights, along with my initial thoughts on them.
Thiago Alves vs. Max Griffin, UFC on ESPN+ 2
Welterweights Thiago Alves and Max Griffin will square off at UFC on ESPN+ 2, which takes place February 2 at Centre de Formacao Olimpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil. Combate broke the news. Alves (22-13) is one of the all-time greatest welterweights in UFC history, having gone 14-10 overall inside the Octagon since 2005. However, he’s really tailed off in recent years as he’s lost four of his last five bouts including back-to-back losses to Curtis Millender and Alexey Kunchenko. Griffin (14-5) is 2-3 in the UFC and is coming off of a loss to Millender as well. Griffin is only three years younger than Alves but to me he has a lot more left in the tank. I would have to favor Griffin in this fight, although Alves will surely be fired up fighting in Brazil again.
Mara Romero Borella vs. Taila Santos, UFC on ESPN+ 2
Also added to UFC on ESPN+ 2 is a women’s flyweight bout between Mara Romero Borella and Taila Santos. Borella (11-5-2) is 1-1 in the UFC with a submission win over Kalindra Faria and a decision loss to Katlyn Chookagian her last time out. She was recently involved in a drug bust in Italy and was suspended by the Italian version of USADA, but her suspension obviously didn’t affect her ability to fight in the UFC as she’ll compete in just a few months from now. However, you’d have to think having drug charges on her plate is going to weigh on her mind. Santos (15-0) is undefeated and picked up a win on the Brazilian Contender Series her last time out. She’s only 25 years old and has shown an incredible ability to finish fights with 12 stoppage wins so far in her MMA career. It’s hard not to like the 25-year-old Santos in this one against the 32-year-old Borella, and I expect her to be heavily favored.
Magomed Bibulatov vs. Rogerio Bontorin, UFC on ESPN+ 2
As well, flyweights Magomed Bibulatov and Rogerio Bontorin will meet at UFC on ESPN+ 2. Bibulatov (14-1) is 1-1 in the UFC with a decision win over Jenel Lausa and a KO defeat to John Moraga his last fight. The Moraga KO was over a year ago and Bibulatov will need to bounce back from that shocking defeat considering the flyweight division may no longer go on. Bontorin (14-1, 1 NC) has finished 13 fights and won on the Braziian Contender Series to get into the UFC. He is just two fights removed from losing to UFC veteran Michinori Tanaka, but besides that loss hasn’t tasted defeat in his career. These are two solid prospects and the line should be very close to a Pick ’em. It looks like a tough fight to call from the early looks of it, but I’d expect Bibulatov to be the favorite just based on the fact he’s always received tremendous betting support.