There is another double header coming up this weekend, the first card being UFC Fight Night 48 in Macao, China starting at 6:30am EST for the prelims, and 9:00am EST for the main card, all on the UFC’s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. After the 10 fights from China conclude, there will be a gap of around 8 hours and then UFC Fight Night 49 will start with prelims on fight pass at 7:30pm EST, Fox Sports 2 at 8:00pm EST and the main card on Fox Sports 1 at 10:00pm EST. There are many fighters on these cards that are virtually unknown, but that comes with the territory of oversaturation, as well as the hometown heroes who are well known to the Macao crowd who will be fighting in the early morning hours of US time. There are more familiar names spread across the Fight Night 49 card, but that comes with the territory of an event held in the US. With the large amount of unknown fighters or fighters who are not yet significant to their divisional rankings, I will be predicting the 6 biggest fights from the 2 fight cards coming up on Saturday.
The main event of the China card will feature Michael Bisping facing off against local hero, Cung Le, to see who can get their career back on track. Cung Le might not be ranked due to his inactivity, but Bisping is consistently in the top 10 and Le is a difficult matchup for anyone. Bisping is 2-3 in his last 5, most recently dropping a decision to Tim Kennedy after taking time off to recover from a serious eye injury. Cung Le has taken the past 2 years off to fulfill movie obligations, but in his last 2 fights he beat Rich Franklin by KO in the first round and Patrick Cote by decision. Bisping has a serious experience advantage in MMA, and unfortunately he has the injuries to prove it. Le has earned a large amount of experience in other martial arts, as evident by his unique style of kicking adapted from kickboxing, but he might have a bit of cage rust due to the time off. Bisping is never too fast of a starter, and Le has the power and technique to find a finish at any moment of the fight from the first bell to the last. Le’s cardio is questionable, but he hopefully worked on it in his time off, and Bisping has a questionable chin after being knocked out by Vitor Belfort, but there’s not much he can do about that. I think that Bisping will control the fight, but Le will find a knockout inside the first round despite that control. Le is a very high level striker, and he shouldn’t struggle too much to finish Bisping with a kick or punch after starching Rich Franklin in less than 3 minutes.
Tyron Woodley is fighting Dong Hyun Kim in the co-main event of the China card. This bout has big implication on the top of the welterweight rankings, as Woodley, who was on a 2 fight winning streak with both wins by knockout before losing to Rory MacDonald, is looking to rebound against Kim is looking to add onto his 4 fight winning streak, with his 2 most recent wins coming by knockout as well. Woodley is a strong wrestler with knockout power to force his opponents to stand with his power, or take things to the ground if he is threatened. Kim is a strong grappler with an extensive judo background, who transformed recently from a grinder to a finisher. Kim has been finished by strikes before at the hands of Carlos Condit, who was defeated recently by TKO due to injury by Woodley, and although MMA math rarely proves to be correct, I believe it will be effective in this instance. I think Woodley will find Kim’s chin inside of the first round with punches, and he will put him away before the end of the first round.
With no other big name fights on the China card, the next fight that I want to discuss is the main event of UFC Fight Night 49, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson vs. Rafael dos Anjos. Henderson is coming off of a 2 fight winning streak since losing his title to Anthony Pettis, and in his most recent fight he earned his first finish in the UFC against Rustam Khabilov with a rear naked choke in the fourth round. Dos Anjos was on a 5 fight winning streak before losing a lopsided decision to Khabib Nurmagomedov and rebounding with a second round TKO win over Jason High. Henderson is a physical specimen, huge for the lightweight weight class, strong, a good wrestler and he likes to employ a grinding style to wear down and dominate his opponents. Dos Anjos is a well known BJJ expert who holds 8 submission wins and has good striking as well. Outside of the BJJ credentials of dos Anjos, Henderson has an advantage almost everywhere else, and I expect Henderson to grind away at dos Anjos for 25 minutes en route to a unanimous decision that isn’t nearly as close as the average Henderson decision win.
The co-main event features veteran Mike Pyle facing young gun Jordan Mein. Both men are not far away from the bottom of the top 15 welterweight rankings, favor finishing fights, especially by knockout, and they both have 1 victory since getting knocked out by Matt Brown. Pyle is a crafty veteran, but with age catching up to him at 38 years old, I expect that still improving Mein to earn a decision victory over Pyle and take a step towards the welterweight rankings.
Francis Carmont faces Thales Leites in a middleweight fight to determine who will remain in and who may fall off of the bottom of the top 15 middleweight rankings. Carmont was on a 6 fight winning streak in the UFC before losing to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and CB Dollaway, and needs to rebound in this fight to keep his ranking, and possibly his roster spot. Leites challenged Anderson Silva for the middleweight belt back in 2009, but came up short and following a second consecutive loss after his title fight, was cut from the UFC roster and sent to the minor leagues to pick up some wins. Leites did just that, picking up 6 wins to only 1 loss and earning a spot on the UFC roster once again, going 3-0 in his second UFC run. Leites owns 13 wins by submission, and likes to control opponents on top until he can find a submission. Carmont was dominated by the top game of Dollaway in his last fight, and I think Leites will do the same thing to Carmont until he can find a submission, tapping Carmont in the second round.
What are your thoughts set to air on on Fight Pass, Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports 1 from all across the world? Please comment below with any ideas and feedback.