UFC Fight Night 49 Preview

ufc_fn49The UFC lightweight division has been one of the toughest divisions in the UFC for years and everyone knows it. People have been saying it for the last few years and it remains at the same level year after year with only more talent entering the division. Standing at the top of the division right now is the one time Strikeforce champion Anthony Pettis. As Pettis recovers from injury the rest of the division continues to fight for position behind him and leading that charge is former champion Benson Henderson. Henderson won the title in 2012 and seemed like he may be the one to clear out the division. He was one of the biggest lightweights in the division and could overpower most of his challengers. That was until the one man who beat him in Strikeforce beat him again in the UFC. Pettis took the belt from Henderson at UFC 164 by submission when he locked in an armlock in the first round. Since then Henderson has not fallen off too much from his run to the title and as the title holder. With so much talent in the division an immediate rematch was out of the question and Henderson was forced to fight his way back into the title shot. It was not as difficult as some former champions as he remained one of the top fighters in the lightweight division and has proven that he deserves another shot at the title. After his title loss to Pettis, Henderson took on a top contender in Josh Thomson and took home a win in a split decision. Then he continued to fight top talent in the division defending his top contender spot when he beat Rustam Khabilov via submission. Henderson has clearly shown that he is the top contender in the division but he will not be getting a title shot anytime soon as the backup in the division has pushed him behind in the line. With Gilbert Melendez expected to get the next shot, Henderson has been reduced to defending his spot in the rankings. He is the man who is holding the key to a title shot in the lightweight division. It is almost as if Henderson is a champion in his own right with everyone eyeing that #1 ranking that Henderson has right now. Meanwhile Henderson is looking to keep the ranking so that when the next title fight is finished he is standing there waiting for the champion and his shot at the title once again. To get there he will need to beat Rafael dos Anjos who is 6-1 in his last seven fights and is looking to make his own impact on the division. After an impressive KO win over Jason High he stands at #5 in the division with a chance to move much closer to a title shot. If dos Anjos can beat Henderson there is no doubt that he will be in the conversation. With two fighters that have backgrounds in fighting on the mat this fight could end up on the ground fairly quick. For Henderson he will be looking to use his wrestling background to take the fight to the ground and use his size to work ground and pound. That ground and pound can open up some spots for submissions as well and Henderson is not scared to go for any finish in any way on the ground. dos Anjos is a traditional Brazilian fighter that prefers to constantly attack for submissions using Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Either way this fight is likely head to the ground as two fighters look to grind out a win in the hopes that they stay at the top of the lightweight division. When all is said and done though it seems as though Benson Henderson is not far off from his dominant self that won the title two years ago and because of that he seems ready to take on all challengers including dos Anjos, which he will do with a unanimous decision win.

Before two top lightweights face off two welterweights will look to get noticed in another tough division. Mike Pyle and Jordan Mein are not household names and in fact many causal MMA fans don’t even know them that well. That is because neither has been able to make any big impact in a division that has included some of the biggest stars in the UFC. It is tough to break through when the main story has been about GSP and who is fighting GSP for the past few years. When GSP left fighting the talk began about who could replace them and the eventual lineup for title shots. While the top fighters are trying to get back into contention with a new champion other fighters are looking to move their way up in the rankings and begin to get noticed among the chaos. Pyle and Mein are in perfect position to do just that as they get the co-main event spot at UFC Fight Night 49. Neither fighter has put together a big enough win streak to make a push up the rankings but they hope that a big win while in focus can help them make a run. For Mein it is a chance to improve on an impressive young career by taking this very short notice fight, while for Pyle it is a chance to get what he has been working for since entering the UFC in2009. Both fighters are well-rounded but Mein has the distinct advantage in the fact that he, like fellow British Columbia native Rory MacDonald, has been trained from the start in every aspect of mixed martial arts. Then again Pyle has the experience of a veteran fighter to help him along the way. Both fighters will square off looking to make an impression as the co-main event at UFC Fight Night 49.

Fight Card

Main Event:
“Smooth” Benson Henderson vs. Rafael Dos Anjos

Main Card:
Mike “Quicksand” Pyle vs. Jordan “Young Gun” Mein

Thales Leites vs. Francis “Limitless” Carmont

Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. “Cassius” Clay Collard

Valmir “Bidu” Lázaro vs. James “The Texecutioner” Vick

Tom “Stoneface” Niinimaki vs. Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly

Undercard:
Neil Magny vs. Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia

Beneil “Benny” Dariush vs. Tony Martin

Matt “The Crowbar” Hobar vs. Aaron “The Model” Phillips

Ben “Killa B” Saunders vs. Chris “Stump” Heatherly

Wilson Reis vs. Joby Sanchez

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