Almost twenty years in the making, the UFC make their second trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma after last hosting an event in the city in 1995. The card will be headlined by a pivotal lightweight tilt between former champion Benson Henderson and hungry contender Rafael Dos Anjos, in a battle between two fighters close to the top of the ladder. Henderson has won two straight and racked up an impressive 9-1 record inside the Octagon, while Dos Anjos has won six of his last seven.
In the co-main event, Mike Pyle and Jordan Mein square off after their respective opponents, Demian Maia and Brandon Thatch, fell out due to injury. The veteran Pyle is fourteen years Mein’s senior, though Mein is in fact the more experience of the two fighters, fighting a staggering 37 times as a professional.
Thales Leites will look for fourth Octagon win in a row after returning to the promotion, and in the process will hand Francis Carmont a third straight loss if he can get past the tough Frenchman. Carmont has been on a recent skid after going 6-0 in his opening six Octagon bouts, and will look to re-find the form that led to an eleven fight winning streak.
Elsewhere on the main card are bouts between prospects Max Holloway and Clay Collard, James Vick faces Valmir Lazaro and Chas Skelly looks to bounce back from his first professional loss against Tom Niinimaki. The preliminary card is headlined by a contest between a pair of welterweights who have recently been on a tear, as TUF 16 alum Neil Magny meets Alex Garcia.
This article will give play-by-play coverage for every fight on the card.
Main Card: FOX Sports 1
Unfortunately the top three fights of the night are unable to be covered due to other commitments.
Max Holloway vs. Clay Collard
Prospect Max Holloway meets Clay Collard, who replaces Mirsad Bektic on a week’s notice. Holloway fights for the ninth time inside the Octagon after going 5-3. All three of his losses have come against top ranked fighters. Clay Collard is 13-4 (1 NC) and could make a big impression if he gets past Holloway.
Round 1 – Leg kick from Collard. Collard is pushing forward, Holloway landing a knee in the clinch. Head kick from Holloway, who then lands a right hand. Holloway with a body kick, and a combination. Collard pressing the action, left hand lands for Holloway. Knee to the body from Blessed, Colllard pressing forward nonetheless. Collard with nice combinations, and he catches the kick of Holloway, landing a combination. Collard to the body. Holloway mixing it up, landing a combination then getting the trip before standing straight back up. Flying knee then a punching combination from Collard, before a kick to the body. Counter right for Holloway lands, then a spinning back kick. Spinning back kick from Holloway. Collard trying to taunt his opponent. Holloway with a knee to the body. Good combination from Blessed, and a kick up high before a spinning back kick. Collard with a combination. Huge rights from Holloway. He’s hurting Collard. Spinning back kick. Collard in trouble. But he just presses forward trying to land some shots of his own. Fun first round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Holloway.
Round 2 – Both fighters land on that exchange. Collard landing the leg kick at the end of his combos. He’s struggling to find the range, though. Body kick then a knee to the body from Holloway. Another solid right hand from Blessed, but Collard responds with a right of his own. Collard catches the kick, attempts to get it to the mat but he’s unable to make him pay. Great combination by Holloway, who has Collard covering up. Flying knee. Collard sticking in there and pushing forward with combinations. Collard catches the kick and looks for a takedown. He’s unable to get it and they separate from the clinch. Body kick caught by Collard, but Holloway gets him to the ground, getting the back before Collard explodes to get to his feet. Nice exchange. Collard taunting Holloway throughout. Holloway with some solid combinations, landing the high kick also. Collard very gassed. He shoots in and Holloway avoids it, jumping on him and getting the back – now the guard. He’s setting up a triangle on Collard. He may be working on the left arm of Collard too. Collard on top, lands a short elbow after escaping the attack of Holloway. Collard stuck in a triangle and slams Holloway at the end of the round
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Holloway (20-18 Holloway.
Round 3 – The crowd responding well to this fight. Collard drops dow with a poor TD attempt. Collard pressing the action but Holloway avoiding thusfar. Holloway with a knee to Collard on the ground, that seemed a little dodgy. Holloway on top with 3 minutes remaining in the third round. Holloway has the back, flattening Collard out but unable to sink the choke in. Big shots from Blessed now. Short elbow. Huge elbows landing from Holloway. He’s pouring it on now. These elbows are really hurting Collard. 90 seconds left in the third. He has the back again. Big shots. The referee steps in.
Result: Holloway via TKO (strikes) at 3:47 in third round.
A fun fight, Collard did well considering the short notice, but Holloway improves to win his third in a row.
James Vick vs. Valmir Lazaro
James Vick has fought just once since 2011, and looks to remain undefeated against 12-2 UFC debutant Valmir Lazaro.
Round 1 – Vick with the jab, while Lazxaro lands a leg kick. Leg kick from Lazaro once again. That one was checked by Vick. Superman punch by Vick, with Lazaro mixing the counter. Vick trying to frustrate Lazaro by sticking and moving, using the jab. Big right from Lazaro lands. Nice left jab from Vick, who then lands to the body. Flying knee attempted by Vick, who gets countered. Body kick from Vick, then a high kick. They’re both exchanging here on the feet, hard to judge who’s getting the better. Stiff right from Lazaro. Good head movement from the Brazilian. Slip from Vick but Lazaro fails to capitalise. Vick seemed to wobble Lazaro with that combination. A lovely combination from Vick, that hurt Lazaro, and the Brazilian responds by getting a takedown. Incredible sweep from Vick, getting the mount momentarily before Lazaro gets back up. A huge left and right hook from Lazaro. High kick by Vick. Lazaro gets the trip but Vick up almost immediately. Right hook from Lazaro, Vick counters with a body shot. Overhand right lands for Lazaro as Vick leaves an opening. Good combination of straights from the American as the round draws to a close.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Vick.
Round 2 – Vick gets in a right before avoiding Lazaro’s attack. Good combination lands for the Brazilian, finishing it with the kick. Lazaro doubles up the jab and lands a leg kick. Lazaro looking better in the second. Vick with the overhand right landing. Vick with a combination but countered by Lazaro. Beautiful, crisp combo by Lazaro. He’s doing a lot better in the second. The leg kicks from Lazaro are hurting Vick. Vick tries to sneak the body kick in but it’s caught. Spinning attack from Vick misses. He has a cut on the left eye. Stiff right by Lazaro. A huge right by Vick and Lazaro is on jelly legs! He goes for the takedown but Vick avoids it! And a straight right from Lazaro. Huge combination by Vick. Straight right. High kick just misses from Vick. Lazaro seems a little recovered. He goes for a left hook. They’re changing jabs now. Good combo from Lazaro. Vick presses forward with a combination of his own. Lazaro gets the trip and has half guard just at the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Lazaro (19-19).
Round 3 – High kick attempted by Vick. Jab then to the body by Lazaro. Huge right lands for Vick, that tagged Lazaro. He ducks the head kick of Vick. Huge right once again from Vick. Lazaro with the level change but Vick working on the neck. He lets go and Lazaro has the clinch. Vick reversing it and now has Lazaro pressed up against the fence. He escapes and lands a left on the exit. A lot of head movement by Lazaro, and he did a good job avoiding Vick’s strikes there. High kick from the American. 1-2 from Lazaro. Both fighters landing. Huge high kick drops Lazaro! He gets up and now shoots in on Vick. The referee halts the action after an accidental groin strike. Straight right from Vick. Both are trying wild techniques. Good knee lands to Lazaro’s head but the Brazilian fighter hanging in there. Lazaro misses a winging strike. Straight left by Vick. Uppercut misses by some way from the American. Flying knee at the end of the round, Lazaro shaking him off and he ends the fight on the mat.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Vick (29-28 Vick).
Result: Vick via unanimous decision (29-28 x2, 30-27).
Vick explains how he felt some Octagon rust, but he remains undefeated in a relatively fun contest.
Chas Skelly vs. Tom Niinimaki
Skelly and Niinimaki lost their last bouts inside the Octagon; Skelly’s first ever loss, and Niinimaki’s first loss after winning his UFC debut.
Round 1 – Niinimaki is very aggressive from the get go. A nice left as Skelly comes in for the takedown. Niinimaki pushing down on the head, but Skelly gets the back now, just one hook in, he adjusts and gets the second. Niinimaki trying to shake him off, but Skelly trying to avoid it. Skelly doing a good job of keeping control from this position, but now Niinmaki gets out and is now working on a guillotine! Skelly gets out though and now has the mount! And the back again! Crazy exchange. He might have the choke. One hook in. He gets the tap! Big win for Chas Skelly.
Result: Skelly via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:35 in first round.
Impressive stuff from Chas Skelly, who hands Tom Niinimaki his second straight loss.
Preliminary Card: FOX Sports 2
Neil Magny vs. Alex Garcia
This is a very intriguing fight, Garcia was touted as the next big thing coming into his last fight, but was a little underwhelming against Sean Spencer. Neil Magny has shown massive improvements in recent performances, winning three straight.
Round 1 – Garcia presses forward with a 1-2, and catches the kick of Magny. Garcia trying to land some big hooks. Magny with the jab. Garcia misses with the hook, but does a good job avoiding the strikes of Magny. 1-2 from Garcia, but Magny ducks under and has the clinch now, with the back of Garcia. He drags him down and has both hook in, trying to work on a head & arm choke but Garcia uses the leg of Magny to get on top. Magny gets up and now has Garcia down again, getting the back once again. Guard now. Garcia trying to explode but recognised by Magny, who now has half guard and is starting to pepper the body of Garcia. Magny keeping active with short shots, nothing significant but they’re adding up. 1 minute left in the round. Garcia pushes Magny away, with the American landing some leg kicks before the round comes to a close.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Magny.
Round 2 – Garcia has seemingly hurt his right knee. He lands a left hook as Magny presses forward. Garcia tries to throw the right kick, perhaps to throw Magny off. Garcia with a winging right and then slams Magny to the ground, who gets guard. Magny trying to keep busy from the bottom with some short shots, and Garcia is doing little in this position. John McCarthy warns them for inactivity. Magny wrapping up the arms of Garcia now, who opts to stand up. A slow shot from Garcia, Magny defending it and getting the clinch. Magny working some knees to the damaged leg of Garcia. Garcia defends Magny’s effort to trip him. They separate, Magny backing him up and landing the jabs. Magny succeeding with his combinations. Garcia with the overhand right before attempting the takedown, Magny defending well but forced against the fence in the clinch. They separate, Magny getting the better on the feet as the round comes to a close.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Magny (20-18 Magny).
Round 3 – The doctor comes in to check on Garcia mid-round, and says that he’s good to go. Garcia once again attempting the overhand right before lifting Magny and dumping him to the ground, but sticking with the guard again. Magny active from the bottom, but Garcia needs to do something big and advance his position. Short shots from the American, as Garcia is struggling to land from the top. Another warning from McCarthy. Garcia posturing up, and uses it to pass and get the back of Magny. Magny standing but Garcia has one hook in, he should be able to stop Garcia from mounting offence though. Elbows to the thigh from Magny. Garcia still unable to get the second hook, and he is forced to give up the back and attempt another takedown. Magny recognises it and reverses the clinch, but Garcia reverses once again and gets the takedown. Short shots from Garcia, who now may be attempting a choke. Garcia transitions onto the back, Magny standing again and forced to give up one of the hooks. A lot of boos from the crowd as the fight lacks activity. Magny with a big slam by Garcia, but he seemed to avoid much damage by moving his head. Magny gets a trip at the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Garcia (29-28 Magny).
Result: Magny via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 x2).
4-0 in 2014 is Neil Magny, who hands Alex Garcia his first UFC loss. Solid performance, albeit slightly boring.
Beneil Dariush vs. Tony Martin
Both fighters looking to rebound from losses in their last bout, but Dariush looked very impressive in his UFC debut. Martin the favourite for this lightweight contest.
Round 1 – Martin taking the centre, opens up with a big leg kick. He doubles up on the left then lands a body kick. Dariush missing with the combination as he presses forward. Big combination with a nice uppercut from Martin. Overhand right by Martin. Dariush to the body with the kick. He misses the overhand left, and again. Dariush very laboured with his attacks. Martin now backing Dariush up, and has his nose bloodied. Dariush missing as he pushes forward, Martin gets hit with a body kick though. Martin’s movement working well, as Dariush struggling to find his range. Body kick lands for Dariush, who then lands to the leg. Uppercut from Martin. He doubles up on the left. Big combination from Dariush, with a knee to the body at the end. Martin reserves the subsequent clinch and separates. Left by Martin lands, Dariush ducks under and gets the clinch, dropping to get a takedown and trying to get the back but Martin reverses, getting to his feet and has the clinch now. Martin has the back now in the clinch. Dirty boxing from the American. They both land combinations. Body kick by Dariush. 30 seconds left. Uppercut from Martin, then a left but huge left lands for Dariush. Dariush lands the takedown and gets the back of Martin at the end of the first.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Martin.
Round 2 – Dariush screams before the round starts. Nice combination there. Martin lands as Dariush presses forward. Dariush slips as he presses forward. Clinch again, this time Dariush engaging and has Martin against the fence. He gets him down but Martin with a lovely kimura sweep and getting to his feet. He has Dariush against the fence now. Short knees exchanged from both fighters, trying to keep active to avoid the referee separating them. Martin drops for a takedown but Dariush avoids it, circling away and landing with a nice knee to the body. Martin looking for the takedown and defended once again impressively by Dariush. The referee separates them with around 2 minutes left. Martin with a cut above his right eye, he looks gassed too. Dariush going in for a takedown and Martin once again trying that same sweep, but Dariush recognising that and remaining on top, this time in half guard. Dariush goes into the mount, goes for the arm triangle, moves into side control and forces the tap! That was quick work, absolutely brilliant stuff.
Result: Dariush via submission (arm triangle choke) at 3:38 in second round.
Brilliant work from Dariush, quick work as he got into a dominant position and he hands Martin his first submission loss.
Aaron Phillips vs. Matt Hobar
Both fighters were unsuccessful in their UFC debuts after having a lot of success elsewhere. 25 year-old Phillips looking to rebound from his first loss against 27 year-old Hobar, who is the -225 favourite.
Round 1 – Phillips with a leaping right, Hobar getting the clinch and attempting a single leg takedown. Hobar with the combination. Phillips is smiling a lot, and seems very relaxed. Nice leg kick from Phillips. Hobar with the level change, and he gets Phillips down, who lands some elbows from the bottom and momentarily tries to circle for an armbar. Now he’s going for the triangle. Hobar once again out, and he gets into half guard now. Phillips staying busy from the bottom with a lot of short strikes. Phillips once again trying to set up a triangle and failing, Hobar into half guard now. Phillips pushing him away, tries to get up but Hobar keeps a hold of the ankle and gets it back to the ground. Hobar now in north-south, and into side control. Short elbows from Hobar from the top. He’s trying to pin the arm of Phillips and land some strikes, but Aaron recognises this. Phillips regains guard, great work. He pushes him, but Hobar staying on top after eating a couple of upkicks. Huge upkick as Hobar goes into side control. Hobar keeping control, landing short strikes on top. Nice hooks from Hobar, now keeping busier. Phillips again landing with the upkick as Hobar stands while Phillips is in his guard. Hobar back in the guard with some strikes to end the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Hobar.
Round 2 – Phillips with the knee, Hobar getting the takedown but AP immediately works his way back up. Hobar gets the back inside the clinch, but Phillips uses the leg of Hobar to get top position, but Hobar recognises that to work his way on top but stretching the legs in a banana split-esque way. Knees from Hobar in the clinch. Phillips with a big knee to the body, but Hobar trying to get the fight to the ground against the fence. They’re exchanging short strikes in the clinch but not keeping too active. Phillips with a big knee. He’s doing a better job of avoiding the ground. They separate. Overhand right from Hobar almost lands. 1-2 from Phillips, and a left. Body kick from Hobar, but missing on the follow-up. They exchange knees. Overhand right and a left from Hobar, who gets the muay thai clinch and lands the knees. Short elbow from Hobar. Phillips with a left hook. Big takedown by Hobar with 90 seconds remaining. Phillips keeping busy from the bottom again, and lands the upkicks while Hobar gets up momentarily, into the half guard now. This is frustrating for Phillips. Short elbows from Hobar. Good short strikes from Hobar, keeping active in this position. He’s opening up a little more as the round comes to a close.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Hobar (20-18 Hobar).
Round 3 – Hobar shoots in and has the fight to the mat, half guard immediately. Hobar is very tired but still keeping busy with strikes from the top. Phillips straight back up, in the clinch and landing some shots but Hobar with short shots of his own landing. Huge takedown from Hobar, this time into side control. Hobar working on a head & arm choke, but Phillips defending thusfar. Hobar now in the guard, Phillips with no attempt to get the fight up to the feet. Now Phillips trying to get back up but Hobar still has control. Hobar with control of the body of Phillips as they’re in the clinch, landing a knee before attempting a takedown. Phillips with a wide stance, trying to defend. Good work from Phillips but Hobar is relentless. Short shots by Phillips, but he’s planted to the mat. Hobar in guard, short shots landing with 1 minute remaining and he looks on the verge of a first UFC victory unless AP can pull something off in the dying moments. Phillips with short shots from the bottom but nowhere near enough. Hobar into half guard, now Phillips giving up the back and trying to get back up. Knees from Hobar in the clinch. Phillips lands a knee in the clinch, Hobar with a left hook and the round comes to a close.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Hobar (30-27 Hobar).
Result: Hobar via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Disappointing loss for Phillips, but solid performance by Hobar, who looked much improved from his UFC debut.
Ben Saunders vs. Chris Heatherly
Ben Saunders making his return here against Chris Heatherly, who seems relatively overlooked for this fight. Should be a fun one.
Round 1 – Saunders taking the centre, opening up with a high kick, then going to the body. Nice leg kicks land for Saunders, but Heatherly catches one and gets him to the mat. Full guard for Saunders, who is trying to utilise a rubber guard. Short shots for Saunders. He may be going for a triangle here. He is. He’s trying to adjust and tighten it up. Short elbows but Heatherly sneaks out. Omoplata from Saunders, possibly trying to sweep with this. He’s done it! An omoplata finish! Eddie Bravo is happy as hell.
Result: Saunders via submission (omoplata) at 2:18 in first round.
A big win for Ben Saunders, and a surprising method of victory also. He gets back to the UFC in tremendous fashion.
Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass
Wilson Reis vs. Joby Sanchez
Wilson Reis is making his flyweight debut after making a 1-1 start inside the Octagon, while Joby Sanchez makes his UFC debut after defeating Antonio Banuelos. Interested to see how Sanchez can do on short notice against his second veteran in a row.
Round 1 – Sanchez on his bike with a lot of movement, Reis taking the centre and stalking his opponent. This seems to be the strategy going forward for both fighters. Reis lands the leg kick. Sanchez attempts the superman punch and ducks under Reis’s counter. Solid inside leg kick from Reis. A slow start from both fighters, trying to get the distance going. Body kick from Sanchez, Reis somewhat checking it. Outside leg kick but Reis unable to follow up. Sanchez leaps in with a right hook. Reis really softening the lead leg of Sanchez. Sanchez with the right then an uppercut, great combination. Straight left as he backs Sanchez up. Left high kick from Reis. Stiff right from Sanchez lands. He presses forward but eats a big leg kick. Sanchez does a great job of ducking under the combination of Reis, getting in the clinch before separating. Beautiful knee pick after the overhand right, getting into side control then momentarily getting the back. Sanchez regains guard, good job there. Reis gets the back again though! 1 minute remaining. Sanchezx standing but still a dangerous spot. That was a good approach from Sanchez, who survives the rest of the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Reis.
Round 2 – Sanchez pushing forward, but Reis gets the better with a big left. Sanchez with a huge left hook dropping Reis momentarily! Absolutely huge shot there. Huge right high kick drops Reis! Holy moly! He follows it up! But Reis right back up. Now a big body kick from Sanchez. What a start to the round. Reis is still wobbly. He tried for the takedown and the clinch but Sanchez staying on his feet, keeping patient. Nice body kick from Sanchez. Still left lands for Reis. Sanchez ducks under the left of Reis, who gets the clinch now and drops down for a takedown. He gets it. Sanchez straight back up, but Reis has him in the clinch against the cage. Another takedown, and he has the back once again. Sanchez stands, Reis working some short shots. Sanchez with the elbows to the thighs and he forces Reis to let go. 2 minutes. Reis with a big body kick, Sanchez somewhat blocked it but that was still big. Reis with the combination as Sanchez misses. Good body shot then a right from Sanchez, who then land a left hook. Reis shoots in with a deep double leg but Sanchez defends. Reis has him against the cage now, he’s struggling to feet the fight down to the ground. And now he does. And the back again. He has him down this time, but Sanchez almost shakes him off. Reis adjusts. The round comes to a close. That would have been 10-8, but Reis did a good job towards the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Sanchez (19-19).
Round 3 – Reis takes the centre. Sanchez misses a leaping hook. Reis with the body kick as Sanchez presses forward. A nice stiff left lands for Reis. 1-2 from Sanchez. Reis with the level change and he gets Sanchez to the mat, giving up his back to get to his feet – that’s an impressive technique for Sanchez. Reis has him against the fence and drags him to the mat, into mount, now back mount. Sanchez stands. Reis with both hooks in, landing short shots to the head. Sanchez shakes him off, but Reis has the clinch again and takes Sanchez down, getting the back once again but Sanchez shakes him off and gets to his feet. Joby needs a knockout, it would seem. Left hook from Sanchez, Reis countering. Sanchez missing with winging hooks. Beautiful disguised left from Reis, who gets the clinch and drags Sanchez down to the ground. Reis has the back, and is now working for the rear naked. He may have it. Only one hook in, but he’s still trying to crank on the neck. Sanchez looks okay here. Sanchez escapes and reverses the position, getting the guard now. Reis makes his way back up. Sanchez pushing forward, trying to land some combinations. Desperation mode for Sanchez now. Just 10 seconds left. Sanchez with a straight right. Sanchez misses a combination as the round comes to a close.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Reis (29-28 Reis).
Result: Reis via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
A fun fight to start the contest. Reis has now won six of his last seven, makes a successful flyweight debut and hands Sanchez his first loss, but Joby looked good considering the short notice and the fact it was his debut.