Cub Swanson knew with a win he was likely staring down a featherweight title shot, but there was no playing it safe as he threw everything at Jeremy Stephens for five rounds looking to get the finish.
Swanson showcased a diverse striking game throughout the fight including a crippling body kick that twice landed flush on Stephens’ midsection, nearly finishing him in the process. To Stephens’ credit, he attacked Swanson in the second round and put a few combinations together that almost swung the fight in his favor.
Swanson turns things back around in rounds three through five with quick footwork and a barrage of attacks that kept Stephens guessing as the final seconds ticked away. When it was over Swanson out landed Stephens 66 to 60 in head strikes with 29 leg kicks landed as well. A complete performance, but was it enough to earn the title shot against Jose Aldo or Chad Mendes?
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Only Dana White knows the answer to that question.
In the co-main event, Kelvin Gastelum survived a rough weight cut on Friday and a bad first round on Saturday to come storming back and dominate Nico Musoke for the final two rounds to win a unanimous decision.
The unfortunate side of Saturday’s main card were six fights and six decisions, but the preliminary fighters stepped up in a big way with several exciting affairs and some slick submission wins earlier in the night.
MAIN EVENT: Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy Stephens
Swanson with a nice front kick to get things going as Stephens is the aggressor early. Swanson follows that with a body kick that lands as well. Stephens looks for the cartwheel kick, but Stephens blocks effectively. Stephens unloads a huge right hand that backs Swanson off. Swanson lands a good right but as he moves forward Stephens counters with a big punch of his own and lands on top with about 10 seconds to go in the round. Swanson lands volume, Stephens with the power edge.
R1 10-9 Cub Swanson
Stephens nails Swanson with an uppercut and he follows that with another right hand as he starts to find his range. Swanson jumps in with a right hand that catches Swanson flush in the jaw. Stephens connects with another overhand right and Swanson is stunned. Swanson connects with a right of his own on the counter as Stephens looks for a knee to the body. Stephens with a stiff body kick as the round goes under one minute and he swoops in for a quick takedown before they bounce back to the feet. Big round for Stephens
R2 10-9 Jeremy Stephens
Swanson on his horse this round with a lot more movement and he hurts Stephens with a body kick that crushes the ribs. Stephens is in trouble and he goes for the takedown to slow things down. Swanson is looking for the kill but Stephens seems to have recovered now. Stephens dives in for the takedown again as Swanson defends.
R3 10-9 Cub Swanson
Swanson moving less this round, but he’s opening up with his leg kicks a lot this more, looking to zap away the lead power from Stephens. Swanson slips and Stephens look for a takedown, but he can’t land it. Looks like Stephens is losing steam in the fourth round but he’s still dangerous as he pops a right hand that snaps Swanson’s head back. Swanson puts together a nice combination as the round comes to a close
R4 10-9 Cub Swanson
Stephens countering Swanson’s attacks well but he has to be in desperation mode knowing a finish is probably the only way he walks out a winner tonight. Swanson hits another thunderous body kick and he smells blood again, gunning for the finish. Stephens seems okay now but he’s definitely banged up and hurting. Stephens nails two big right hands back to back that lands flush on Swanson’s jaw. Close round, Stephens could have swung things his way with those last two punches.
R5 10-9 Jeremy Stephens
FOX Sports scores the fight 48-47 for Cub Swanson
Official result: Cub Swanson def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
Analysis: Cub Swanson gets the win and a real gutsy performance after a rough second round where Stephens put some real hurt on him. Swanson showed dynamic striking and patience dealing with one of the real power punchers in the division. Now the question becomes was Swanson’s performance enough to earn the title shot against either Jose Aldo or Chad Mendes? He has losses to both of them in the past, but with six wins in a row it’s going to be really hard to deny him. The only way Swanson might possibly get knocked out of the title shot is if Mendes beats Aldo and the former champion earns an automatic rematch.
Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nico Musoke Round 1: Musoke with some great striking combinations including a few kicks to back Gastelum off before they get stuck in the clinch. Seems to be a theme tonight. Gastelum goes for the takedown, but Musoke reverses before they stand back up again. Musoke slips under and gets a big slam on Gastelum before he takes the back and looks to sink in the hooks. Musoke looking for the choke, but with about 20 seconds to go, Gastelum reverses and lands in guard.
R1 10-9 Nico Musoke
Round 2: Gastelum much stronger to start this round, he’s unloading some huge shots on Musoke against the cage. Musoke covers up and gets out of there, but Gastelum is quick on his feet and he’s getting aggressive here. Gastelum is just drilling Musoke with punches this round, completely one sided fight now. Gastelum’s uppercut is slipping through repeatedly as Musoke backs up. Gastelum comes storming back after a rough start to this fight.
R2 10-9 Kelvin Gastelum
Musoke rushes forward to look for the takedown, but he’s starting to lose some steam. Gastelum gets out and he’s attacking from the outside. Gastelum is head hunting right now but Musoke gets inside to clinch up against the cage again. Gastelum circles out and nails Musoke witih a big body kick. Gastelum putting his combinations together going up high and then to the body. Gastelum started slow but he certainly closed like a champion
R3 10-9 Kelvin Gastelum
The final Fight Trax numbers had Gastelum out striking Musoke to the head 68 to 29, which served as the most lopsided stat of the fight.
FOX Sports scores the fight 29-28 Kelvin Gastelum
Official result: Kelvin Gastelum def. Nico Musoke by unanimous decision (29-28 on all cards)
Analysis: Kelvin Gastelum had a slow start, which immediately brought up thoughts of him missing weight a day earlier. He was sluggish and slow to react, but apparently he just needed time to wake up because the final 10 minutes were a far cry from the first round. Gastelum apologized for missing weight on Friday and now that becomes his real test going forward. He’s approaching a top 10 ranking in the division, but he has to learn the best way to get down to 170 pounds because that’s the last thing he wants hanging over a very promising career.
Cezar ‘Mutante’ Ferreira vs. Andrew Craig
Ferreira with an early left that drops Craig down and he’s looking for a submission. Craig is able to regain his composure and get back to the feet. An eye poke pauses the fight as Craig is given a minute to recover. Craig stings Ferreira with a right hook for his best strike of the fight so far. Craig goes for a punch and Ferreira explodes with a takedown as they both hit the mat in emphatic fashion.
R1 10-9 Cezar Ferreira
Ferreira is measuring his strikes this round while Craig is being very tentative, most likely after getting rocked by a couple of early shots from the Brazilian. Ferreira shoots in for a double leg takedown, but Craig keeps his balance and they get stuck in the clinch. Ferreira looks for a spinning kick but doesn’t land as the round comes to an end
R2 10-9 Cezar Ferreira
Ferreira lands an elbow strike that busts Craig open and he’s wearing a mask of his own blood. Ferreira gets the fight to the mat and he’s working for a rear naked choke from the back as the Brazilian locks on the body triangle. The fighters get back up and Craig unloads a big head kick that drops Ferreira! He’s going for the finish, but Ferreira is back up and he seems to have his composure back.
R3 10-9 Cezar Ferreira
Official result: Cezar ‘Mutante’ Ferreira def. Andrew Craig by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Analysis: Another lackluster fight outside of a few shining moments. Ferreira dropped Craig early, but then Craig nearly ended the fight late with a Hail Mary head kick. In the end, Ferreira got the win and is back on track after his knockout loss to C.B. Dollaway in his last fight. Ferreira is still a work in progress, no need to rush him along too fast but he’s got great potential for the future.
Ricardo Lamas vs. Hacran Dias
Dias tearing away at Lamas’ lead leg with kicks as Lamas is looking for a boxing-centric attack. Surprisingly, Dias is actually the one that shoots in for the takedown but Lamas shrugs him off to get the fight back to the clinch against the cage. Now Lamas is looking for the takedown, but Dias defends well. Dias uncorks a couple more punches before the round ends. Close first round.
R1 10-9 Hacran Dias
Lamas takes Dias down briefly to open the round and then works to the back before Dias gets back and separates. The fighters keep exchanging position on the cage as both look for the takedown without much success. Lamas starts putting together some solid combinations, but Dias lands a big overhand right that staggers the former featherweight title contender. Dias follows up with two more good punches, but Lamas is recovered and he quickly adjusts to take the fight down. Dias is back up again with no problem. Another hard round to score
Lamas out seeking the takedown again, putting Dias on the defensive. Lamas takes Dias’ back as he starts looking for a rear naked choke while standing, but the Brazilian shrugs him off as he falls to the mat. Now Dias gets a takedown as Lamas tries for a guillotine choke. Dias maintaining control but Lamas with a nice reversal and they are standing again. Lamas with a kick and punch before shooting in for a takedown again. Fight comes to an end as the San Antonio crowd boos quite loudly.
Fight Trax shows Lamas in control for 5:23 to 3:47, which obviously helped him win rounds and ultimately the fight
R3 10-9 Ricardo Lamas
FOX Sports scores the fight 29-28 Ricardo Lamas
Official result: Ricardo Lamas def. Hacran Dias by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Analysis: What started out as a fight with a lot of potential ended up as a three round snoozer by the time it was over. Lamas fought extremely safe after tasting Dias’ power early. Maybe he was concerned about losing two fights in a row or falling to another Nova Uniao fighter, but either way Lamas did nothing to raise his stock in this one. Just a forgettable fight all around.
Clint Hester vs. Antonio Braga Neto
Hester moving quick on his feet tossing out punches and kicks, but Neto gets inside to try for the takedown. Neto gets Hester on the ground against the cage as he starts to improve his position. This is the last place Hester wanted to be. Neto is opening up some shots from the top and Hester is trapped, but not much damage being done. Dominant round for Neto.
R1 10-9 Antonio Braga Neto
Neto looked winded in his corner after putting everything he had to get the finish in that first round. Hester comes out and immediately lands a big body kick and punch as Neto is standing flat footed without a ton of movement. Neto looks for the takedown and Hester reverses with a nice throw. Not a good move because Neto reverses immediately and lands in the mount. Neto loses the mount, but moves to half guard and he’s looking for a kimura from the top as the round comes to an end.
R2 10-9 Antonio Braga Neto
Hester has to know he’s down and he’s unloading some seriously heavy shots but he gets sloppy and slips to the mat and Neto pounces to land on top. Disastrous turn of events for Hester. Neto stays in control but Hester turns and lands on top. Hester opening up some ground and pound as he’s stuck in Neto’s guard. The fighters are back up with just over 30 seconds to go, but Neto swoops in and takes the fight back down as the round and the fight comes to an end.
R3 10-9 Clint Hester
FOX Sports scores the fight 29-28 Antonio Braga Neto
Official result: Clint Hester def. Antonio Braga Neto (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Analysis: A pretty uneventful fight and seemingly a bad decision when it was all over. Neto controlled the majority of the action on the ground while Hester landed some solid strikes, but all in very short bursts without dominating much of the fight at all. Neto said before the fight he’s moving down to welterweight after this one while Hester manages to pick up his fourth win in a row.
Joe Ellenberger vs. James Moontasri
Ellenberger wastes no time to shoot for the takedown against Moontasri, who is primarily a striker with a Taekwondo background. The fighters separate and Moontasri fires off a big knee, but Ellenberger is unphased as he pushes forward again looking for the takedown. Moontasri nails Ellenberger with a big uppercut and he goes down! Ellenberger holds on as Moontasri jumps down into his guard. Ellenberger is stood back up and he’s wobbled in a bad way. Ellenberger goes down to the mat again, but Moontasri gets stuck without landing much damage and the round comes to an end.
R1 10-9 James Moontasri
Moontasri goes for a spinning back kick, but Ellenberger times it well and gets the takedown on the counter. Ellenberger has Moontasri’s back and he’s looking for the choke before transitioning to the mount where he starts raining down elbows. Ellenberger moves in for a D’arce choke, but Moontasri escapes. Both fighters are tiring but a great comeback from Ellenberger this round.
R2 10-9 Joe Ellenberger
Ellenberger presses the action against the cage to start the final round as Moontasri defends the takedown. Moontasri fires a head kick but Ellenberger again moves in for the takedown. Ellenberger continues to work for a grappling heavy attack as Moontasri defends. He loses position and Moontasri ends up on top but time is running out in the round and the fight.
According to Fight Trax, Moontasri out landed Ellenberger 52-23 in head strikes, but in the control game Ellenberger was up by over a minute in total time along with two takedowns during the fight.
R3 10-9 Joe Ellenberger
FOX Sports scores the fight 29-28 for Joe Ellenberger
Official result: Joe Ellenberger def. James Moontasri by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)
Analysis: Crazy first two rounds between these two and complete shift in momentum after Moontasri was up big early looking for the finish only to see Ellenberger power back to get the win. It’s been a long road and seemingly a dozen opponents for Ellenberger to finally get his debut in the UFC and he made the most of it. Moontasri will certainly be back as well. His striking was a ton of fun to watch, he just has to get that killer instinct to put an opponent away when they are hurt, but Moontasri undoubtedly had those first time Octagon jitters.
Colton Smith vs. Carlos Diego Ferreira
Colton Smith looks for a takedown to start the fight, but Ferreira ends up with a Judo throw to reverse positions and land the fight on the mat. Ferreira wastes no time locking up a rear naked choke as Smith is stuck down on all fours. Ferreira puts the pressure on and Smith has no choice but to give up. Very impressive performance from the UFC newcomer
Official result: Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Colton Smith by submission (rear naked choke) at 38 seconds, R1
Analysis: Carlos Diego Ferreira looked really comfortable for a first time UFC fighter landing that Judo throw and then immediately locking on the rear naked choke. Ferreira will be a solid prospect to add to the lightweight division, undefeated and a serious ground fighter. As for Colton Smith, that’s three losses in a row and he hasn’t looked good in any of them. Chances are he will be another unemployed Ultimate Fighter winner within a few weeks.
Johnny Bedford vs. Cody Gibson
Johnny Bedford comes out like a ball of fire and nails Gibson with a jumping knee, but the second time UFC fighter starts winging punches and clips him with a right hand. Bedford goes crashing to the canvas as his head snaps back and Gibson follows up to lay on some more strikes. The referee swoops in and stops the fight as Bedford pops right back up in protest. Gibson definitely hurt him, but that was an awful stoppage
Official result: Cody Gibson def. Johnny Bedford by TKO (strikes) at 38 seconds, R1
Analysis: Well the fight was fun for the few seconds it lasted. The referee really blew the call on this one although watching in slow motion on the replay, Bedford’s head really did snap back and smack the canvas on the way down from Gibson’s punch. Still, he wasn’t given any kind of chance to defend once he was on the mat. It’s unfortunate for Gibson, who could have potentially earned a very impressive stoppage, but now the attention will be about the referee’s mistake.
Marcelo Guimares vs. Andy Enz
Guimares gets a big slam but Enz bounces back like nothing ever happened. Enz fires back with two big right hands that land flush on the Brazilian’s jaw. Enz using his reach advantage to give Guimares nightmares so far. Guimares tries to press the fight against the cage, but Enz is defending well.
R1 10-9 Andy Enz
Enz has established a great straight right that continues to pop Guimares in the mouth. Guimares fires with a big overhand right that nails Enz behind the ear and follows with a second one that tags Enz as well. Guimares fires in for a takedown, but again Enz gets up without any problem. Guimares working a good combination of leg kicks, Enz lands another right that tags the Brazilian before the end of the round. Another close one
R2 10-9 Marcelo Guimares
Enz’s corner tells him he’s probably down two rounds and he needs to go for it. He comes out and pops Guimares with another heavy right, but gives up the takedown again. Guimares just can’t keep him on the mat and they are back up again. Guimares is slowing down as Enz starts pressing forward. The Brazilian finds a second wind and he starts to unload on leg kicks again and Enz isn’t blocking much of anything. According to Fight Trax, Guimares has landed 30 leg kicks at this point in the fight doing some nasty damage. Guimares gets the clinch and racks up the control time as well currently at about 2:20 for the fight.
R3 10-9 Marcelo Guimares
FOX Sports scores the fight 29-28 Marcelo Guimares
Official result: Marcelo Guimares def. Andy Enz by split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30
Analysis: Not the prettiest fight in the world, but Guimares looked better at middleweight than a failed experiment at 170 pounds. Guimares developed a nasty series of leg kicks that just took away Andy Enz’s foundation and power base. By the end of the third round, Enz couldn’t get much power and Guimares was still firing off tree splitters to get the win.
Ray Borg vs. Shane Howell
Borg gets the fight to the ground quickly as Howell tries to work from guard. Howell scrambles, but in the process gives up his back and Borg locks up a rear naked choke. Howell somehow survives and slips out. Borg gets it locked up again and Howell can’t fight if off this time, but he doesn’t tap because he goes right to sleep.
Official result: Ray Borg def. Shane Howell by submission (rear naked choke) at 2:17, R1
Analysis: Ray Borg was a heavy favorite coming into the fight and he certainly made quick work of Shane Howell. Borg probably should have gotten the nod in his last fight against Dustin Ortiz, and now with this latest win he is positioned for a solid fight in the flyweight division.
Oleksiy Oliynik vs. Anthony Hamilton
Oliynik tags Hamilton with a good uppercut and he’s rattled. The Russian looks for a takedown instead of flurrying with strikes, but a shot to the groin pauses the action as Hamilton is given time to recover. Oliynik nails Hamilton with a couple of more clubbing right hands before taking the fight to the mat. Oliynik grabs a neck crank from side control, and Hamilton taps out!
Official result: Oleksiy Oliynik def. Anthony Hamilton by submission (neck crank) at 2:18, R1
Analysis: It’s been a long time coming for Oleksiy Oliynik to finally make his debut and he didn’t disappoint as he dispatched of Hamilton in less than three minutes in the first round. Oliynik used the exact same neck crank submission from side control that he finished Mirko Cro Cop with to land him a spot in the UFC. His striking with the wide looping punches had shades of Fedor Emelianenko in them. Very impressive debut and at 37-years of age, Oliynik probably won’t waste time looking for his next fight as he tries to climb up the heavyweight ranks.