A familiar face is set to return to the Octagon, and I’ll give my thoughts on the UFC’s re-signing and his upcoming matchup in today’s MMA odds and ends.
Louis Smolka vs. Sumudaerji, UFC Fight Night 141
Former UFC flyweight contender Louis Smolka has re-signed with the UFC and will return as a bantamweight when he takes on Octagon newcomer Sumudaerji at UFC Fight Night 141, which takes place November 25 at Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China. The UFC’s re-signing of Smolka was first reported by MMAOB’s very own James Lynch, while the matchup news was first reported by MMAjunkie. With the card just a little over a week away, both fighter won’t have much time to get prepared for this bout.
Smolka (14-5) went 5-5 in the UFC but was cut after losing four straight fights. He openly admitted to having a drinking problem and it appears he has turned his career around. Since leaving the UFC, Smolka has gone 3-0 with three finishes, including a TKO win just two weeks ago at a regional show in Calfornia. Smolka has fought the majority of career at flyweight but considering he is 5’9″ if he is able to put on some mass he should be able to hang with the bantamweights in the UFC. Sumudaerji (10-2) is a 22-year-old Chinese prospect who is making his UFC debut. All of his victories have come via knockout or submission and he looks like an intriguing addition to the UFC roster. Keep in mind, though, that his opposition has been extremely poor, with most of his opponents having only one or two MMA bouts. Smolka, therefore, is going to be a big step up in competition for him.
Although Sumudaerji has a really good record and will be fighting in his home country, the level of opponents he’s fought has been very low and you can’t ignore all the experience Smolka has fighting in the UFC. I’d peg Smolka as a big favorite here to get the win in his return to the UFC.
Benson Henderson Forgoes Free Agency, Re-Ups with Bellator
Just another note here as MMAjunkie reported that former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has decided not to test free agency and has instead re-signed with Bellator. Henderson (26-8) has been a disappointment since signing with Bellator, as he’s gone just 3-3 overall in the promotion. However, he finally appears to be turning things around as he’s won his last two fights, including a submission win over Roger Huerta and a decision win over Saad Awad. He has alternated between welterweight and lightweight but he appears to be much better suited for the lightweight division. Should Bellator decide to do a lightweight tournament like they have for the welterweight and heavyweight divisions, Henderson would be a shoe-in to join it. Having said that, he has also asked Bellator to be an alternate for the welterweight tournament, so he could potentially fight at 170lbs if the UFC needs him. Either way, it’s nice to see Henderson get paid well for his work, though he still needs that key win in Bellator to really prove his worth.