UFC Fight Night 49 takes place tomorrow night in Oklahoma and you can see our predictions for all the fights below.
Benson Henderson vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Two well rounded fighters on display here with dos Anjos in particular having improved his game over time with good striking now also complementing his dangerous submission game, while Henderson is a man with few holes in his armor, able to mix it up on the feet, in the clinch and on the mat to good effect.
So, technique wise it’s close, but I favor Henderson here for a number of other reasons like his cardio, his experience fighting the full five rounds, his unbreakable will and his knack for finding a way to win.
That’s often what has set him apart from his opponents and as good as he is I don’t think dos Anjos will be the one to buck that trend.
Ben Henderson to win by decision
Mike Pyle vs. Jordan Mein
Despite his TKO loss to Matt Brown last year I’m still a believer in Mein’s striking. He picks his shots well from range, showing good accuracy, movement and combinations. On the feet Pyle’s best at closer range, but Mein’s natural style will make it difficult for him to do so.
Pyle is a crafty veteran who’s the more skilled of the two on the mat, so Mein should be looking to keep this fight standing at all costs, and I believe he has the takedown defense to do that.
Truth be told Pyle has more potential ways to win here, but I think the younger, fresher Mein’s striking will prove to be the deciding factor on the night.
Jordan Mein to win by TKO in Rd2.
Francis Carmont vs. Thales Leites
Carmont is an imposing figure with good wrestling and solid striking, though on the feet he’s not proven to be as fearsome as you might expect. Leites has excellent jiu-jitsu and isn’t as one-dimensional as he was in first run in the UFC on the feet, even earning a rare TKO victory last time out.
I’m not all that convinced by Carmont, but I think he has the edge here on the feet and if he’s careful not to leave limbs exposed he can outmuscle his opponent on the mat and stifle his submission threat to grind out an ugly but much needed win.
Francis Carmont to win by decision.
Max Holloway vs. Clay Collard
It’s been a whirlwind few days for Collard who comes in on extremely short notice to make his debut on the main card of a UFC event on FOX Sports 1 against Holloway.
Collard’s compiled a 13-4 record on the regional circuit and is first and foremost a striker which just so happens to be Holloway’s stock and trade. Holloway puts his punches together well, has good composure and is ever-improving, making this a tough fight for Collard even if you cast aside the length of time he’s had to prepare.
Max Holloway to win by TKO in Rd3.
James Vick vs. Walmir Lazaro
TUF semi-finalist Vick welcomes Lazaro to the Octagon in this lightweight match-up. Both men are at their best on the feet and are unusually tall for the weight class with Vick being 6ft 3″ while Lazaro is 6ft.
Lazaro has done well in his career to date and has a number of finishes on his record, but the level of opposition has been questionable, and Vick, who in addition to his current 5-0 record and a submission win over Ramsey Nijem last time out also defeated the likes of Daron Cruickshank and Joe Proctor on TUF, is a safer bet to emerge with his hand raised tomorrow night.
James Vick to win by decision.
Chas Skelly vs. Tom Niinimaki
Skelly is primarily a wrestler who’s happy roughing up opponents from the clinch, while Niinimaki is a skilled grappler who’s at his best on top controlling the action.
This looks like being a close one and much may depend on who’s able to get the other on their back more often. I like Niinimaki to emerge the most successful in that regard and the fact that he appears to be the more skilled of the two overall should be enough for him to edge out Skelly on the scorecards.
Tom Niinimaki to win by decision.
Neil Magny vs. Alex Garcia
Beneil Dariush vs. Tony Martin
Aaron Phillips vs. Matt Hobar
Ben Saunders vs. Chris Heatherly
Wilson Reis vs. Joby Sanchez