A number of new UFC bouts were revealed over the weekend. Here they are, along with my initial thoughts on them.
Joseph Benavidez vs. Dustin Ortiz, UFC on ESPN+ 1
A rematch between flyweight contenders Joseph Benavidez and Dustin Ortiz is set for UFC on ESPN+ 1, which takes place January 19 at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, New York. Newsday broke the news. Benavidez (26-5) is coming off of a huge TKO win over Alex Perez and is overall 13-3 in the UFC. Aside from a split decision loss to Sergio Pettis earlier this year, he’s been arguably the best flyweight in the world not named Demetrious Johnson over the last half decade. Ortiz (19-7) is coming off of three straight wins and overall is 8-5 in the UFC. Benavidez and Ortiz previously fought in 2014 with Benavidez winning by decision, and I’d have to favor that resulting happening again this time around despite Ortiz’s hot streak.
Livia Renata Souza vs. Sarah Frota, UFC on ESPN+ 2
Women’s strawweights Livia Renata Souza and Sarah Frota will meet at UFC on ESPN+ 2, which is set for February 2 at Centro de Formação Olímpica do Nordeste in Fortaleza, Brazil. Combate broke the news. Souza (12-1) is on a three-fight win streak and defeated Alex Chambers in her UFC debut. Frota (9-0) picked up a knockout win on the Brazilian Contender Series to get signed by the UFC. Frota is a very intriguing prospect but it’s hard not to favor Souza here considering her superior body of work in Invicta and the UFC.
Jim Crute vs. Ryan Spann, UFC 234
Light heavyweight prospects Jim Curte and Ryan Spann will battle at UFC 234, which takes place February 10 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. Crute (9-0) recently picked up a submission win over Paul Craig in his UFC debut. Spann (15-5) is 1-0 in the UFC and is on a five-fight win streak overall. I’m very high on both guys but would favor Crute to win in his home country.
Nadia Kassem vs. Montana de la Rosa, UFC 234
Also added to UFC 234 is a women’s strawweight bout between Nadia Kassem and Montana de la Rosa. Kassem (5-0) won a decision against Alex Chambers in her UFC debut, but that was fight over a year ago. De la Rosa (9-4) is 2-0 in the UFC with a submission win over Rachael Ostovich her last time out. Very close fight to call here but I’d favor de la Rosa due to experience.
Nik Lentz vs. Scott Holtzman, UFC on ESPN 1
Lightweight Nik Lentz and Scott Holtzman meet at UFC on ESPN 1, which is set for February 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. ESPN broke the news. Lentz (29-9-2, 1 NC) is 13-6-1, 1 NC in the UFC and is coming off of a TKO win over Gray Maynard. Holtzman (12-2) is 5-2 overall in the UFC and beat Alan Patrick via KO in his last fight. Although Holtzman is on a nice win streak it’s hard to go against Lentz due to his wrestling and grinding ability.
Renan Barao vs. Luke Sanders, UFC on ESPN 1
Also added to UFC on ESPN 1 is a bantamweight bout between Renan Barao and Luke Sanders. ESPN also announced this fight. Barao (34-7, 1 NC ) is 9-6 overall in the UFC but he is curently on a three-fight losing skid and at risk of being cut. Sanders (12-3) is 2-3 in the UFC but has been finished in all three of his losses. Both guys have been very disappointing lately and if they weren’t fighting each other I’d look to fade them both. I guess I’d give a slight lean to Barao due to his previous championship experience, but it’s just so hard to trust him anymore.
Note: A bantamweight bout between Alex Caceres and Kron Gracie that was set for UFC 233 has been moved to the UFC on ESPN 1 event.