Last week, we have news that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones was cleared by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to combat Anthony Smith. The UFC made that struggle official on the weekend, along with the March 2 event at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada is currently a go with the GOAT seeking to defend his name in the main event. Besides the confirmation of Jones vs. Smith, a few other struggles for UFC 235 were also revealed over the weekend, and I’ll give my initial thoughts on those new matchups in today’s MMA odds and ends. UFC 235 vs. Marlon Vera, frankie Saenz Because of an accident to Thomas Almeida, veteran Frankie Saenz is stepping up on short notice to fight the slumping Marlon Vera in a bantamweight bout at UFC 235. Ariel Helwani of ESPN broke the information. 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 stage it looked like he may get cut from the UFC after suffering a three-fight losing skid, but he’s bounced back well since then. At age 38, this is the last opportunity he’s got to make a title run. Vera (12-5-1) is just 6-4-1 in the UFC but he has fought a high amount of competition inside the Octagon and his album does not do justice to the type of fighter he is. Vera is coming off of 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 will be looking to keep this battle with Saenz on the feet while Saenz will be searching for the takedown. Though Saenz is a tricky veteran and will likely make this battle more competitive than the lineup will suggest, it’s difficult to go from the younger Vera and I expect him to be a sizeable favorite for the win. Charles Byrd vs. Edmen Shahbazyan, UFC 235 Middleweights Charles Byrd and Edmen Shahbazyan are set to battle at UFC 235 too. This fight is official as per the UFC. Byrd (10-5) had an excellent UFC debut last spring when he filed John Phillips at the first round at UFC Fight Night 127. He was a gambling favorite for his next fight against Darren Stewart in UFC 228, however after a strong first round he faded badly and was brutally knocked out. At age 35, Byrd looks to be more of a gatekeeper rather than a late-blooming competition that some believed he may be following his successful stint on the Contender Series. Shahbazyan (8-0) was undefeated heading into his UFC debut with all his wins coming from first-round knockout, but struggled in a split decision win over the aforementioned Stewart. He’d get the nod and at age 21 should learn a lot from that fight, but he showed a lot of holes from Stewart that a veteran like Byrd may exploit. I would still need to prefer Shahbazyan somewhat just because of the age gap and the knockout energy, but I have a feeling this struggle is going to be more aggressive than most want to believe. Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links and MMA Odds Breaker is going to be compensated should you make a purchase after clicking on the links. Read more here: