UFC’s doubleheader ended strong with their return to Tulsa in almost twenty years. An upset shook up the Lightweight Division, a vicious knockout sent a Canadian into the Welterweight Rankings, and a couple of entertaining slugfests had the Oklahomans leaving satisfied. Now it was time to see who was next for the main card winners from UFC Fight Night 49.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Bobby Green
Controversial or not, Rafael dos Anjos (22-7) earned this biggest win of his MMA career, knocking out former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion, Benson Henderson. He is mostly known for his grappling, but with the training he has done at Kings MMA and Evolve MMA, his striking has improved greatly. Dos Anjos won his last two fights via TKO, though the stoppages were questionable. He has won seven of his last eight and with a win over the #1 UFC Lightweight; he could be next in line for a title shot or at least be a fight away.
Similar to dos Anjos, Bobby Green (28-5) is coming off the biggest victory of his career, earning a controversial Split Decision over #3 UFC Lightweight, Josh Thomson. He broke into the Top 10 UFC Lightweight Rankings with that performance. “The King” is currently on an 8-fight winning streak, 4-0 since joining the UFC after Strikeforce merged with the promotion.
With dos Anjos and Green coming off career-changing upsets over two former champions and Top 5 UFC Lightweights, it’s only appropriate for them to meet in the Octagon next. A title shot could be at stake if these two happen to get matched up.
Jordan Mein vs. Kelvin Gastelum
In his thirty-eighth professional MMA fight, Jordan Mein (29-9) knocked out Mike Pyle to break into the Top 15 UFC Welterweight Rankings. Prior to the knockout, “Young Guns” earned a Split Decision over Hernani Perpetuo after losing to Matt Brown in the fight before via second-round TKO – a fight in which Mein dropped Brown and nearly finished in the first. Mein is 3-1 in the UFC and is slowly climbing the rankings.
TUF 17 Winner, Kelvin Gastelum (9-0) continues to remain undefeated in his young professional MMA career. He is 3-0 since moving down to the Welterweight Division after defeating Uriah Hall at Middleweight to win his season of The Ultimate Fighter. However, he has struggled to make weight in his last two bouts. Gastelum made weight on his second attempt against Rick Story, but forfeited 20% of his purse after missing weight against Nico Musoke.
In December, the UFC will be holding their last FOX card for the year in Phoenix. Gastelum – who fights out of Arizona – could be fighting on that card and Mein should be his opponent. The winner of this potential fight will most likely break into the Top 10 of the UFC Welterweight Division.
Thales Leites vs. Tim Boetsch
Training at Nova Uniao has been paying dividends for Thales Leites (24-4). The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt earned his second-straight knockout, handing Francis Carmont his third-straight defeat twenty seconds into the second round. He has won seven consecutive bouts, 4-0 since he returned to the UFC. The former title challenger is a win shy of entering the Top 10 UFC Middleweight Rankings.
The week before, Tim Boetsch (18-7) made an epic comeback in his home state of Maine. “The Barbarian” knocked Brad Tavares out after being dominated in the opening round. Despite being 2-3 in his last five fights, he has managed to maintain his spot in the Top 15 UFC Middleweight Rankings, sitting at #14. He’s 6-3 since moving down to Middleweight, holding notable wins in the division over Hector Lombard, Yushin Okami, and CB Dolloway.
With Leites and Boetsch having fights a week apart and both being at the lower end of the UFC Middleweight Rankings; they’re bound to fight next. Depending on Boetsch, he and Leites could be fighting at UFC 179 in Brazil. A spot in the Top 10 could be in store for the winner of this potential bout.
Max Holloway vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
In what should have been Fight of the Night, Max Holloway (10-3) went to war with late replacement, Clay Collard, in a Catchweight Bout of 149 lbs. He eventually finished “Cassius” in the third round with a TKO. “Blessed” is on a 3-fight winning streak and a fight shy of being ranked. Holloway is 6-3 in the UFC, holding wins over Leonard Garcia, Justin Lawrence and Andre Fili.
In the first show of 2014, Tatsuya Kawajiri (33-8-2) made his long-awaited UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 34 in Singapore, choking Sean Soriano out within the first minute of the second round. However, he couldn’t do the same in his next fight as Clay Guida earned a Unanimous Decision over “Crusher” at UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi. His 6-fight winning streak was ended in the process. Kawajiri has forty-three fights under his belt and has been fighting since 2000, competing for Strikeforce, DREAM, ONE FC, Shooto, and most notably, PRIDE.
Despite coming off a loss, Kawajiri is still a Top 15 UFC Featherweight. With Holloway on a roll, he deserves a shot at a ranked opponent. Not only is it a good test for Holloway, this fight will show if Kawajiri can hang with the new breed.
James Vick vs. Beneil Dariush
After yet another long break from fighting, James Vick (6-0) returned with a Unanimous Decision victory over UFC newcomer, Valmir Lazaro. He remains undefeated despite not being very active since 2011. He made his UFC debut just over a year ago, submitting Ramsey Nijem in fifty-eight seconds. Vick competed on the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, fighting for Team Cruz, making it to the semi-finals.
Earlier on the same card, Beneil Dariush (8-1) submitted Tony Martin with an Arm-Triangle in the second-round. He bounced back from the first loss of his MMA career back in April, losing to Ramsey Nijem via TKO. Prior to that loss, he made his UFC debut in January, submitting Charlie Brenneman in the first-round.
With Vick and Dariush coming off wins on the same card, it would be fun to see these two step into the Octagon next as they continue to climb one of the UFC’s deepest division. Both fighters are known for their finishes as a majority of their fights have ended within the first round.
Chas Skelly vs. Sean Soriano/Andre Fili
After almost getting caught in a Guillotine by Tom Niinimaki, Chas Skelly managed to escape and transition to the back, catching “Stoneface” in a Rear Naked Choke for his first UFC win. He lost his UFC debut at UFC on FOX 11, suffering his first loss to Mirsad Bektic via Majority Decision. He is a member of Team Takedown – home to Jared Rosholt and UFC Welterweight Champion, Johny Hendricks – and has competed under the Bellator and Legacy FC banners.
In two weeks, Andre Fili (13-2) will face Sean Soriano (8-1) to open up UFC’s first card in Connecticut since 2005. Andre Fili is coming off a third-round submission loss to Max Holloway, ending a 9-fight winning streak. The Team Alpha Male prospect won his debut the fight before with a second-round TKO over Jeremy Larsen. Sean Soriano suffered his first loss in his career, losing to Tatsuya Kawajiri via second-round submission. He trains with the Blackzilians in Florida.
The winner of Fili vs. Soriano should face Skelly next. It would make for a great striker vs. grappler classic for the upcoming Featherweights.
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