Last weekwe got news that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to combat Anthony Smith. The UFC created that struggle official over the weekend, and the March 2 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada is currently a go with all the GOAT seeking to defend his title in the primary event.
Besides the confirmation of Jones vs. Smith, a couple other struggles for UFC 235 were revealed over the weekend, and I will give my first thoughts on these brand new matchups in the current MMA odds and ends.
Frankie Saenz vs. Marlon Vera, UFC 235 Because of an injury to Thomas Almeida, veteran Frankie Saenz is stepping up on short notice to resist the surging Marlon Vera in a bantamweight bout at UFC 235. Ariel Helwani of ESPN broke the news. Saenz (13-5) is 5-2 overall from the UFC and is coming from back-end choice wins over Henry Briones and Merab Dvalishvili. At one point it seemed like he can get cut from the UFC after enduring a three-fight losing skid, but he has bounced back nicely since then. At age 38, this can be the last opportunity he has to make a title run.
Vera (12-5-1) is just 6-4-1 from the UFC but he’s fought a high level of competition inside the Octagon and his record does not do justice to the type of fighter he is. Vera is coming from back-to-back stoppage wins Guido Cannetti and Wuliji Buren and at age 26 is starting to really come into his own as a fighter. No doubt Vera is going to be looking to keep this fight with Saenz around the feet while Saenz will be searching for the takedown. Though Saenz is a tricky veteran and will probably make this battle more competitive than the lineup will suggest, it is hard to go from the younger Vera and I expect him to be a big preferred to get the win.
Charles Byrd vs. Edmen Shahbazyan, UFC 235
Middleweights Charles Byrd and Edmen Shahbazyan are set to clash at UFC 235 too. This battle is official according to the UFC. Byrd (10-5) had an excellent UFC debut last spring when he submitted John Phillips in the first round at UFC Fight Night 127. He was a gambling favorite because of his next battle against Darren Stewart at UFC 228, but after a strong first round he faded badly and has been brutally knocked out. At age 35, Byrd seems to be more of a gatekeeper as opposed to a late-blooming contender that some believed he may be after his successful stint on the Contender Series.
Shahbazyan (8-0) was undefeated heading into his UFC debut with all his wins coming by first-round knockout, but fought in a split decision win on the above Stewart. He did get the nod and at age 21 must find out a lot from that fight, but he showed a lot of holes against Stewart that a veteran like Byrd could exploit. I’d still have to prefer Shahbazyan somewhat just due to the age difference and the knockout energy, but I have a feeling this fight is going to be more aggressive than many want to think.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on the links.
Read more: jasonthompson1.com