They say the best things in life are free, and that statement will hold true this Saturday in San Antonio, Texas when the UFC presents UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs Stephens free on Fox Sports 1.
UFC begins its night with new comers Joe Ellenberger (14-1) taking on James Moontasri (7-1) in the lightweight division. You may know Joe as UFC welterweight contender Jake Ellenberger’s twin brother, but what you may not know is that of his 14 victories, 12 have come by way of stoppage (8 KO/TKO’s, 4 submissions). However, Moontasri also knows how to finish as majority of his fights never go to the judges (3 KO/TKO, 2 submissions). It’s safe to assume that this fight won’t go to the cards.
Next up is a light heavyweight battle between Clint Hester (10-3) and Antônio Braga Neto (9-1). You may remember Clint Hester from The Ultimate Fighter: Jones vs Sonnen season as a member of Team Jones. Since the show, Hester has gone 3-0 inside the world famous Octagon by defeating Bristol Marunde, fellow cast member Dylan Andrews, and Andy Enz. But in order for him to continue his perfect streak in the UFC, he’ll have to get past Antônio Braga Neto. Neto, who made his UFC debut over a year ago, is looking to add Clint Hester to his list victims. Among this Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace’s list is a who’s who of fighters: former Strikeforce fighter Anthony Smith, former UFC fighter and WEC welterweight contender Brock Larson, former Bellator middleweight tournament winner Maiquel Falcão, and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil winner Cezar Ferrira.
Fight 3 of 6 features two frightening featherweights as Ricardo Lamas (13-3) battles Hacran Dias (21-2-1). Lamas is coming off a disappointing 5 round decision loss to champion Jose Aldo, but is looking to get back to his winning ways. Before his loss to the champ, Lamas was 4-0 in the UFC by beating Matt Grice, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki, and Erik Koch. Expect him to try to make a statement against Dias as he is looking to get another shot at Aldo. But making that statement against Dias is easier said than done though. Dias was riding a 9 fight win streak before suffering a decision loss against Nik Lentz. Dias can either beat you standing (3 KO/TKO’s), on the ground (9 submissions), or grind you out to a decision (9 decisions). No matter who wins this fight, you better believe Jose Aldo will be watching.
Halfway done with the night, but don’t expect a halftime show. After those three wars, the UFC will be diving right into a middleweight clash between Cezar Ferrira (7-3) and Andrew Craig (9-2). Winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, Vitor Belfort protégé, Cezar Ferrira is looking to rebound from a KO loss from CB Dalloway. Before the loss, Cezar was 3-0 in the UFC by beating Sergio Moraes in the TUF: Brazil final, Thiago Santos, and Daniel Sarafian. Standing across from Cezar is Andrew Craig. You may remember Andrew Craig from his UFC debut when he took the place of injured Jared Hamman and upsetting the hometown hero Kyle Noke. Since that upset, Craig has gone on to beat Rafael Natal and Chris Leben. In addition to those victories, Craig also has a Fight of the Night honor under his belt from when he battled Luke Barnatt and came up short. Both of these guys are exciting fighters and this fight has Fight of the Night written all over it.
The co-main event of the evening features welterweights Kelvin Gastelum (8-0) taking on Nicholas Musoke (12-2). Gastelum is known for winning The Ultimate Fighter: Jones vs Sonnen as a part of Team Sonnen. In the show’s finale, Gastelum derailed the Uriah Hall hype train by beating him all three rounds to win the show. His next two Octagon appearances resulted in submitting Brian Melancon by rear naked choke and then squeaking out a split decision against Rick Story. In order to keep his perfect record alive, Gastelum has to first get through the Swede, Nicholas Musoke. Musoke is riding a 7 fight win streak with one no contest, and he’s 2-0 in the UFC with a submission victory over Alessio Sakara and a unanimous decision win over Viscardi Andrade. Together, both men are unbeaten in 15 bouts, but come Saturday, one streak will come to an end.
[NOTE: Kelvin Gastelum is coming into the fight overweight. The fight is now a catchweight at 172.75]
The main event of the night is a very significant fight as the winner of Cub Swanson (20-5) and Jeremy Stephens (23-9) is guaranteed a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight title. Cub has been on the brink of a title shot for a while now, but now he has his chance. He’s riding a 5 fight win streak in the featherweight division and has been impressive in all 5 of those fights. He has gotten past George Roop, Pearson, Charles Oliveira, Dustin Porier, and Dennis Siver, and of those 5 guys, he has finished 4 by way of KO/TKO (Porier being a unanimous decision victory). In order for him to finally get his shot at the title, he’ll have to get past the man they call “Little Heathen.” Jeremy Stephens has found a career resurgence in the featherweight division by getting past Estevan Payan, Rony Jason, and Darren Elkins. If he were to get past Swanson, he’ll finally get what he has wanted ever since he’s gotten into the UFC in 2007: a shot at the title.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow night as the fights are free on Fox Sports 1!
Photo from UFC’s facebook