UFC Fight Night 44 Preview

ufc_fn44Lighter weight classes get a bad rap as they are considered a boring group as they do not produce the knockouts that people love. The UFC’s lighter weights have proven that these lighter weight classes can produce plenty of great fights. In the UFC the lighter weights are some of the best divisions in the promotion. The lightweight division is leading the way as the 155 pound division is widely considered the best in the UFC. The other lower weight classes are quickly catching up as well with Demetrious Johnson continuing to fend of very exciting fighters in the Flyweight division and a new champion in the Bantamweight division there is plenty of action in these weight classes. The Featherweights are also catching up with Jose Aldo ruling the division as one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC but below him there is a large collection of great fighters all fighting for the chance to unseat the champion. The battle has been a great one as multiple fighters continue to fight for that shot. Two more will enter the octagon looking to enter that title conversation as both Jeremy Stephens and Cub Swanson are both on hit streaks heading into their main event in San Antonio. For Jeremey Stephens it is a resurgence of sorts as he would rise through the rankings of the lightweight division for years but he could never gain a foothold in the division and would never reach the top of the division. Since switching to a new weight class he is undefeated and has risen to be the #11 spot in the division rankings. Stephens has taken to his new weight class and has risen fast up the rankings but he has yet to face the best in the division to truly earn enough respect to enter the title conversation. He is right on the cusp of it though as he has made plenty of noise in the division and now gets to face one of the best featherweights and one of the hottest fighters in the UFC. Cub Swanson was a good but not a great fighter in the WEC but the potential was there and for that reason the UFC would give him a contract. He would show that it was not a mistake as he would lose his first fight before going on a five fight run. He has done it in spectacular fashion as well with four knockouts in his five wins as he has quickly become one of the more exciting fighters in the UFC. For that he has risen to the #4 fighter in the division. Swanson is not too far off from a title shot if he can continue to be exciting and continue to finish fights. Meanwhile Jeremy Stephens is just looking to put a top 5 fighter on his list of wins to show that he is truly ready to compete in the featherweight division. There are different stakes for both fighters in this main event as Swanson has a lot more to lose as the higher ranked fighters. The fight stylistically will be a matchup between two well-balanced fighters in a pairing that seems to be more common every fight. For Stephens the balance comes from his training in MMA from the age of 18 and after 10 years he has seen plenty in the world of MMA. He has been training every aspect of the fight game for 10 years but he is still a striker at heart and will stand and bang if he can. Swanson is a wrestler at heart but has made his living with his hands more than anything with four KO wins in his last 5 fights. With both fighters feeling comfortable anywhere the fight goes there is a good chance that both with stand until they get caught with a big punch and try to take the fight to the ground. It is sure to be a good matchup between the two fighters as both matchup well against each other and have a tendency to put on exciting fights. When it comes to the end though, it will be Cub Swanson who takes the win with a third round KO to move closer to that title shot he has been waiting for since entering the UFC.

Before these two featherweights face off to move up the rankings two relatively unknown fighters will get their chance to make an impression on the UFC. It is a chance that not many get as two fighters that are just getting started get the chance to fight in a co-main event. Kelvin Gastelum has seen some of the pressure of a co-main event as the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 17. He has fought under the spotlight before and would win a contract for his efforts but this will be the first time he has a chance to make an impression outside of the show. He has done well since winning the show winning two straight fights including a split decision win over Rick Story in his last fight. Gastelum is a bigger name though and for Nico Musoke he is a big name to add to the win column and to begin a very young career. Musoke has had two fights in the UFC so far and both have been wins but none have involved any major names. Now he gets a name that he can beat and can help him move up in competition. Both fighters have not made a massive impact on the UFC yet and although Gastelum is a TUF winner he is still near the bottom of the welterweight division. They will look to take full advantage of the opportunity of a co-main event where there will be plenty of people watching. It will be a change from their usual undercard fights and the winner will be the one who can overcome the pressure and fight their fight.


Fight Card

Main Event:
Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Main Card:
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nico Musoke (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira vs. “Highlight” Andrew Craig (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas vs. Hacran “Barnabe” Dias (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Antonio Braga Neto vs. Clint Hester (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Joe “Excalibur” Ellenberger vs. Bryan Barberena (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Colton Smith vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira

Johnny “Brutal” Bedford vs. Cody “The Renegade” Gibson (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Marcelo “Magrao” Guimaraes vs. Andy “Tank Mode” Enz (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg vs. Ryan “Baby Face Benoit (Sportsnet 360/Fox Sports 1)

Oleksiy “The Boa Constrictor” Oliynyk vs. Anthony Hamilton (UFC Fight Pass)

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