By Lance LeVan
UFC Fight Night 44 is being held in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, June 28. This is a very unusual weekend. There are two UFC Fight Nights technically on the same day. Fight Night 43 in New Zealand and Fight Night 44 in San Antonio, Texas. The NZ fights will start at 5am EST (because of the time differential). The San Antonio fights will start at their regular time (10pm EST). Both of these Fight Nights are exciting, in the fact that we are seeing a lot of new blood (excuse the pun) in the UFC. Any one of these faces could be the next Anderson Silva or Jon Jones. I am also proud to say that I will be in attendance at this UFC Fight Night in San Antonio.
(#4) “Cub” Swanson (20-5-0) vs. (#11) Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens (23-9-0).
This is going to be a five round featherweight (145lbs) fight. This is going to be a slugfest! Both of these fighters like to throw punches and both like the ground-and-pound aspect of the fight. Not only that, but both fighters are black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. On paper they are VERY evenly matched. Even their records are similar. Again, at this level of fighting…it is difficult to predict outcomes. Since one lucky punch or a freaky submission could end someone’s night very quickly. I am very certain that this fight will wind up on the mat…and that there is going to be a lot of high level grappling going on once it does. Since I am a Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I am going to be very interested in watching this match very closely. However, I think that Cub has a slight advantage in this fight. My prediction: Swanson wins by submission in the third round.
(#11) Kevin “Mini Cain” Gastelum (8-0-0) vs. Nico Musoke (12-2-0, 1NC)
This is a three round welterweight (170 lbs) fight. When you look at these two fighters on paper, they appear to be very similar and very evenly matched. But when you see that Gastelum only has eight fights…and he is already ranked #11, you start to see the difference. Gastelum is 8-0, and it is in one of the most stacked weight classes in the UFC. He has not fought any of the top-level prospects yet…but this will only be his ninth fight. Musoke is riding a seven-fight win streak and is coming in looking to make a name for himself. Knocking off this up-and-coming fighter would definitely make Dana White and the UFC sit up and take notice. Gastelum is a brawler that has had six of his fights end in referee stoppage. Musoke is a well-rounded fighter who is not afraid to get in there and mix it up. Gastelum is a wrestler, as well as a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There is a 3” height difference between the two fighters. Depending on the reach difference, this may be to Musoke’s advantage. But if Gastelum can close the distance and take Musoke down… I think he has the advantage in the ground-and-pound game. I guess we’ll find out once the cage closes and the bell rings. I think this is going to be a good test for both fighters. My prediction: Gastelum wins via TKO in the second.
Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira (8-3-0) vs. Andrew “Highlight” Craig (9-2-0)
This is a middleweight (185 lbs) fight that should be action-packed. I have to be honest and admit that I do not know much about these two fighters. Both are fairly new to the UFC but they have some experience in the ring. “Mutante” fought on TUF: Brazil… so he’s been around the UFC already, and he has four fights in the octagon. His last fight was again CB Dollaway, who is a beast. Craig has fought in Legacy and Bellator. Craig actually won the Legacy FC Middleweight championship. One of the more notable wins he has was against UFC veteran Chris Leben. Ferreira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a master of Capoeira. Craig is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Like I’ve said about several of the other fights tonight, if either fighter wins decisively…it could propel them into the top 20 rankings. But if they go into the fight…stall and try to win by points, I don’t think Dana or the UFC would have any problems showing either fighter the door. An impressive showing by either fighter, win or lose, could impress Dana enough to warrant a contract extension. We’ll see what they bring to the cage Saturday night. Will they try to win by “not losing” or will they leave everything they have in the ring for 15 minutes. My prediction: Craig wins via split decision.