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The UFC has been busy announcing bouts for upcoming fight cards lately, and below are my thoughts on a few of those newly-announced bouts for UFC Philadelphia and UFC Russia.
Josh Emmett vs. Michael Johnson, UFC on ESPN 2 Featherweight competition Josh Emmett will come back from a lengthy layoff if he takes on Michael Johnson at UFC on ESPN two, which takes place March 30 in Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ESPN broke news of the fight. Emmett (13-2) is 4-2 in the UFC but hasn’t fought because a brutal KO loss to Jeremy Stephens in February 2018. He rocketed up the ranks with a knockout win over Ricardo Lamas but the loss to Stephens at which he broke his nose was a big setback. Johnson (19-13) is 11-9 at the UFC and is coming from back-to-back choice wins over Andre Fili and Artem Lobov. However, he had lost three consecutive fights before that. Although Johnson is inconsistent, we understand how great he is when he is at his best, and with Emmett coming from such a lengthy layoff you have to fade him here and prefer Johnson to win this battle.
Ray Borg vs. Pingyuan Liu, UFC on ESPN two Ray Borg will move up to bantamweight when he chooses on Pingyuan Liu at UFC on ESPN 2. The Philly Voice broke the news. Borg (11-3) is 5-3 in the UFC but has not fought since a submission reduction to Demetrious Johnson in October 2017. He was among the best flyweights from the UFC but will probably be moving up to bantamweight now and it will be interesting to see whether he could make a run in his new weight class. Liu (13-5) is riding a nine-fight win streak including a 2-0 mark at the Octagon with wins over Damian Stasiak and Martin Day. Even though he is going up to bantamweight, there’s no doubt Borg is going to be a large favorite here just based on his UFC experience and degree of competition.
Marcin Tybura vs. Shamil Abdurakhimov, UFC Fight Night 149
Heavyweights Marcin Tybura and Shamil Abdurakhimov will square off UFC Fight Night 149, set for April 20 in Yubileyny Sports Palace at St. Petersburg, Russia. Tybura (17-4) is 4-3 at the UFC and won a decision over Stefan Struve in his final outing. Abdurakhimov (19-4) is currently 4-2 in the UFC and is coming from back-to-back wins over Andrei Arlovski and Chase Sherman. It’s heavyweight MMA so you can never be sure of the result, but I think Tybura is the better fighter and ought to be preferred here.
Emil Weber Meek vs. Sultan Aliev, UFC Fight Night 149
Welterweights Emil Weber Meek and Sultan Aliev may also fulfill at UFC Fight Night 149. Meek (9-4, 1 NC) is currently 1-2 in the UFC and is coming off of successive declines to Kamaru Usman and Bartosz Fabinski. Aliev (14-3) is currently 1-2 at the UFC and is coming off of a TKO loss to Warlley Alves. Both men are disappointments in the UFC, but Meek generally gets more respect from bettors and that I assume he will be preferred here.
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Roman Kopylov, UFC Fight Night 149
And lastly, a middleweight bout will see Krzysztof Jotko take on UFC newcomer Roman Kopylov at UFC Fight Night 149. Jotko (19-4) is 6-4 in the UFC but is riding a three-fight losing skid including back-to-back KO declines to Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. Kopylov (8-0) is making his UFC debut after going undefeated on the Russian regional scene. It is hard to back Jotko following his recent win streak, and I expect the undefeated Kopylov are the preferred here.
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