The UFC is more saturated than ever, and as a result, there are five events this month alone! Of course, this means that most UFC fans aren't paying attention to Ultimate Fight Night 49 yet, which won't take place until August 23.
The card, headlined buy a lightweight bout between former champion Benson Henderson and Rafael dos Anjos, just added two new bouts, as well as an alteration to another one.
The additions were a pair of welterweight fights, each involving a former challenger to Anderson Silva when he dominated the middleweight division.
The first of these two fights is between former submission specialist turned boring decision fighter Francis Carmont (22-9) and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Thales Leites (23-4). While Carmont has lost two straight, Leites is on a six fight winning streak, including a 3-0 record in his newest UFC stint. In fact, he's 9-1 since his initial release from the UFC back in August of 2009, just one fight after losing to Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Championship less than two months earlier.
The other is between Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demina Maia (19-6) scrappy veteran Mike Pyle (26-9-1), who has 16 submission victories of his own. Pyle is one of those guys who's never had a bad stretch in his entire career, which is quite an accomplishment for any fighter, let alone one who's fought 36 times! The worst stretch of his career, when he started 1-2 in his UFC career over five years ago, was followed up by an 8-2 record since.
Maia, arguably one of the top two Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specialists in the UFC, avenged the only losing streak of his career on May 31, when he defeated Alexander Yakovlev via decision. He still needs a win in Tulsa, since a loss would mean his third in four fights, and that could spell the end of his to date seven-year UFC tenure.
While all of those fights are relevant, perhaps the most exciting news to come out about this card is what will happen with Jordan Mien. The young but experienced Canadian, who was supposed to face Thiago Alves before Alves' injury history resurrected, will now face wrecking machine Brandon Thatch.
Despite being just 24 years old, Mien (28-9) has fought an incredible 37 times already! He began his career with six fights in six months, going a mere 3-3 in 2006, kicked off with a loss to Rory Macdonald. In seven fights in 2007, the Canadian went a much better 6-1, including four tko victories. He fought four times in 2008 and three times in 2009, but in 2010, he fought six times. In each of those three years, he only lost one fight.
Then, in perhaps his finest year to date, Mien had his first and thus far only undefeated one, in 2011. He went 5-0 that year, including wins over UFC vets Joe Riggs and Josh Burkman, as well as experience vets like Evangelista Santos and Marius Zaromskis.
He went 2-1 in 2012, won his UFC debut against Dan Miller at UFC 158 last year, and followed up with a back and forth tko loss to the surging Matt Brown. Fractured nasal and orbital bones prevented him from competing for nearly a year, but on April 19, 2014, Mein defeated Hernani Perpetuo to avenge the loss.
His opponent, Brandon Thatch (11-1) , is nothing short of brutal. Not just any kind of brutal, but savagely brutal. He has never gone the distance in any win (his lone loss was a split decision in his second fight), having garnered all 11 of his victories via finish in the first round. Ten of his victories have come in the first half of the first round, with eight coming in the first two minutes. Six of his victories came in the opening minute, and four of them lasted less than 20 seconds!
He is 2-0 in the UFC, and a win could vault him into the top ten, despite not even being raked at the moment.
So far, the lineup is as follows, in no order.
Benson Henderson vs. Rafael dos Anjos
Mike Pyle vs. Demian Maia
Francis Carmont vs. Thales Leites
Chas Skelly vs. Tom Niinimäki
Jordan Mein vs. Brandon Thatch
The card also includes a fight between former Legacy FC Bantamweight Champion Matt Hobar and Aaron Phillips, and even though that fight will likely wind up on Fight Pass, this card is relatively stacked for a Fight Night card. Thankfully, it's on Fox Sports 1, so no need to pay $10/month to catch most of this card. Hopefully, the card lives up to its potential.