The UFC is planning on booking an intriguing lightweight bout between top-15 wrestlers. My thoughts on that new matchup plus a couple new bouts added to Nashville in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Kevin Lee vs. Gregor Gillespie, May UFC Event
The UFC is targeting a lightweight bout between Kevin Lee and Gregor Gillespie to headline a yet-to-be-announced event in May, according to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. The fight is not finalized yet but is likely to be made official soon. Lee (17-4) is 10-4 in the UFC and in his last fight lost a five-round decision to Al Iaquinta. Before the Iaquinta loss, Lee had put on a beatdown on Edson Barboza and despite a submission loss to Tony Ferguson before that, he remains one of the best lightweights in the game today. Gillespie (13-0) is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC and in his last fight picked up a TKO win over Yancy Medeiros. Lee is one of the top-ranked lightweights in the UFC and is actually the younger fighter in this matchup, but I really believe in Gillespie and think he has the potential to be a champion in this sport. It’s going to be a hard-fought fight, but one I believe Gillespie can win. I’m curious to see what the betting line will be for this one, but if Gillespie is a dog there would surely be value betting on him at plus money.
Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Jesus Pinedo, UFC Fight Night 148
A fun lightweight bout between Chris Gruetzemacher and Jesus Pinedo will take place at UFC Fight Night 148, set for March 23 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Gruetzemacher (12-4) is 2-2 in the UFC and is coming off of a brutal TKO win over Joe Lauzon. Pinedo (16-4-1) is riding a seven-fight win streak and defeated Devin Powell by decision in his UFC debut. Pinedo is a very nice prospect but Gruetzemacher has more experience against a high level of competition and based on the win over Lauzon he has to be at least slightly favored here.
Eric Shelton vs. Jordan Espinosa, UFC Fight Night 148
A rare flyweight bout between Eric Shelton and Jordan Espinosa is set for UFC Fight Night 148. Shelton (12-5) is 2-3 in the UFC and is coming off of a split decision win over Joseph Morales. Espinosa (13-5, 1 NC) is riding a four-fight win streak including a knockout win in Dana White’s Contender Series last summer. Shelton hasn’t been anything special in the UFC while Espinosa looks like he has some solid potential. I’d expect a close line here, with a slight lean to the more dynamic Espinosa.
Chris Gutierrez vs. Ryan MacDonald, UFC Fight Night 148
Also at UFC Fight Night 148, bantamweight Chris Gutierrez will meet short-notice replacement Ryan MacDonald. Gutierrez (12-4-1) is coming off of a submission loss to Raoni Barcelos in his UFC debut but had won three straight fights before that. MacDonald (10-0) is an undefeated prospect who is coming off of a submission win in LFA. He is taking the fight on short notice for an injured Martin Day. This should be a competitive fight but despite the short notice, the fact that MacDonald has never lost may make him a small betting favorite at open here.
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