UFC Ft. Lauderdale is set to take place April 27 in BB&T Center, and the main event was expected to be a five-round middleweight bout between Yoel Romero and Ronaldo”Jacare” Souza. Regrettably, Romero has pulled out with injury and the UFC is scrambling to find a new opponent for Souza. A few other bouts on the card also have seen changes occur, and I will give my initial thoughts on them under.
Alex Oliveira vs. Mike Perry, UFC on ESPN 3
An intriguing welterweight bout between Alex Oliveira and Mike Perry will happen at UFC on ESPN 3. ESPN first broke the news that Perry is filling in on short notice for the wounded Li Jingliang.
Oliveira (19-6-1, 2 NC) is 9-4, 1 NC at the UFC and is coming from a brutal submission loss to Gunnar Nelson in his final struggle. He’s constantly in exciting struggles win-or-lose, but is lacking that signature success and has not yet proven he can take another step in to contender status. Perry (12-4) has a 5-4 record in the UFC but has been submitted by Donald Cerrone in his last struggle. Most of us know he’s got power, but he has not shown much else besides his punching power. This one can go either way as both men are talented yet defensively flawed. I’d have to favor Oliveira as he’s better on the ground, but Perry is certainly live in this fight together with his KO power.
Carla Esparza vs. Virna Jandiroba, UFC on ESPN 3
Because of an accident to Livia Renata Souza, Carla Esparza will face Virna Jandiroba in a women’s strawweight bout. Combate broke the news. Esparza (13-6) is the prior UFC women’s strawweight champion and has a 4-4 record overall in the Octagon, including a TKO loss to Tatiana Suarez in her last outing. Jandiroba (14-0) was the Invicta women’s strawweight champion after going 3-0 in the advertising. Esparza will likely be favored because of having more UFC expertise, but the unbeaten Jandiroba is completely a live dog in this fight.
Ben Saunders vs. Takashi Sato, UFC on ESPN 3
Additionally added to UFC on ESPN 3 is a welterweight bout between Ben Saunders and Takashi Sato. Asian MMA broke the news. Saunders (22-11-2) is just 2-4 in his third stint at the UFC, and is coming from back-to-back stoppage losses to Lyman Good and Sergio Moraes. He looks to be on quite the decline. Sato (14-2) is a Pancrase vet who won his last fight, but overall looks like a questionable signing by the UFC. Given Saunders is from Florida, possibly the UFC thinks they are giving him a winnable battle here, but Sato may surprise and get the knockout win.
Gilbert Burns vs. Eric Wisely, UFC on ESPN 3
Lightweights Gilbert Burns and Eric Wisely are set to meet. Combate had the news. Burns (14-3) is 7-3 at the UFC and is coming from a decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Wisely (30-9-1) is making his return to the Octagon after going unbeaten over his last nine fights on the regional circuit. He had one previous stint in the UFC back in 2012, when he went 0-2. This is a weird fight, and the one thing I can imagine is that nobody wanted to fight Burns, that I expect to be a huge favorite to defeat Wisely.
Roosevelt Roberts vs. Thomas Gifford, UFC on ESPN 3
And lastly, lightweights Roosevelt Roberts and Thomas Gifford will meet at UFC on ESPN 3. Roberts (7-0) has finished all his pro fights including a submission win over Darrell Horcher within his UFC debut. Gifford (14-7, 2 NC) is making his UFC debut after moving undefeated over his final five bouts in the regional circuit. Gifford appears to be a good possibility but Roosevelt has already proven he can win in the UFC and I expect him to be preferred fairly heavily in this one.
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