The first event is in Macao, China for the UFC, but the night will hopefully finish on an even higher note in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Former lightweight champion Benson Henderson puts his number one contender-ship on the line when he takes on the fifth ranked Brazilian Rafael Dos Anjos. The first fight of the night, only being shown on Fight Pass, will get the event started at 7:30 pm EST. Airing will then move to FOX Sports 2 for the prelims at 8 pm EST, then switching over to the main card on FOX Sports 1 at 10 pm EST. With another double-header going into the books, and continuing on all the way into October, the success just continues to build up for the top Mixed Martial Arts promotion in the world.
#1 Benson Henderson (21-3) vs. #5 Rafael Dos Anjos (21-7) Lightweight Bout –Benson Henderson sure had a message for his critics and doubters in his last fight. Highly criticized for being a decision fighter, and nearly pulling out multiple split decision victories, Henderson finally put a closing stamp on a fight when he stopped Rustam Khabilov back in June. People turn their head away when Henderson is brought up among the best in his division, but there is no denying that Henderson has done enough to earn him another shot at the UFC lightweight title. A man who has beaten some of the best will have to do so again when he takes on the game Brazilian Rafael Dos Anjos. At first glance, Dos Anjos does not exactly thrill the audience in any particular way. Once a one-dimensional lightweight fighter, he has really turned his striking game around, and it showed when he finished Jason High with strikes his last fight. Dos Anjos will come into the fight as the underdog, but when the two fighters are under a microscope, both of their styles are quite similar. It may be anyone’s guess on how this fight will end. Henderson has fought the best of the best and Dos Anjos has not. Henderson was once the champion in the lightweight division, which he defended three times, and Dos Anjos has yet to fight for UFC gold. The former champion looks better on paper here, and will more than likely be the busier fighter between the two come fight night. Benson Henderson via Unanimous Decision.
#13 Mike Pyle (26-9-1) vs. Jordan Mein (28-9) Welterweight Bout –First it was Mein versus Thiago Alves, then it was Brandon Thatch. Finally Mein finds stability in a date with Mike Pyle inside the octagon. The match up between the two provides an exquisite striking bout between two lethal finishers, which will almost guarantee that someone is not walking away with this one unscathed. Pyle is deadly in the clinch, using his sharp joints at the knee and elbow to slice and dice his opponents with ease. Mein provides a very unpredictable stand up style, being able to strike from either stance, and finds satisfaction at punishing his opponent’s bodies. Pyle is starting to get up there in age, and has been labeled with the “gatekeeper” status in the welterweight division. Mein’s record shows he has been in quite a few wars himself, but the Canadian is only 24 years old and has shown flashes of a contender at times inside the cage. In this case, it is younger versus the wiser, but the young man is pretty wise himself. Jordan Mein via Unanimous Decision.
#12 Francis Carmont (22-9) vs. #15 Thales Leites (23-4) Middleweight Bout –Thales Leites is starting to hit his stride, while his middleweight foe Carmont has back-to-back losses coming into this fight. There was once much build up behind the name Francis Carmont, a strong physical specimen who showcased some strong Muay Thai with a good wrestling base, but the hype stalled, as Carmont has underwhelmed, being outworked in his last two fights. Leites has shown that he may have figured out his striking game, or at least enough of it to get into his world of grappling. Leites likes to put immediate pressure on his foe, and either pull them down into his domain in grappling, or just ride them out to the final bell. It is hard to vote against the recent rise of Leites here, so look for the Brazilian to possibly pull out a choke submission in the third round. Thales Leites via Submission.
Max Holloway (9-3) vs. Clay Collard (13-4) Featherweight Bout –Holloway may not look the part, but the young 22-year-old featherweight could potentially be a ranked fighter by the end of the year. After a tough loss against Conor McGregor, Holloway has bounced back, finishing his last two fights. Clay Collard will make his debut in the UFC, somewhat of an unknown among many. Collard may surprise everyone and get the victory, but there is just too much potential in Holloway for the prospect to suffer a loss against a newcomer. Max Holloway via Submission.
James Vick (5-0) vs. Valmir Lazaro (12-2) Lightweight Bout –A teammate of featherweight champion Jose Aldo, Valmir Lazaro has consistently shown his striking prowess, finishing nine out of twelve victories. Vick is inexperienced, and can be quite predictable as the fight continues on. Taking it to the ground will be the undefeated fighter’s game plan come tomorrow night, but it may be hard to come by, as Aldo’s camp is known for sporting some very impressive take down defense. Valmir Lazaro via Unanimous Decision.
Chas Skelly (11-1) vs. Tom Niinimaki (21-6-1) Featherweight Bout –Watching Niinimaki’s last fight against Niklas Backstrom, Skelly is probably smirking at the opportunity presented to himself. Backstrom controlled Niinimaki easily on the ground, and wound up choking him out within the first round. Chas Skelly is an accomplished wrestler, and will look to do the same as Tom’s last opponent. Niinimaki must keep this fight standing and keep his distance striking in order to beat Skelly. It will all come down to whether or not the Finnish featherweight worked extensively on his take down defense or not. Chas Skelly via Unanimous Decision.
In other notable fights on the card, Ben “Killa B” Saunders makes his return back to octagon against a debuting Chris Heatherly. A fighter who was quite the question cut by Dana White and company, Saunders was just recently cut by Bellator as well, leading to his presence back with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. For anything and everything UFC related, follow the Guardian Liberty Voice for all the news and analysis.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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