UFC Fight Night 44: Swanson vs. Stephens Fight Card, TV Info, Predictions, More

Brian MaziqueCorrespondent IIIJune 26, 2014

Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Cub Swanson (red gloves) and Dennis Siver (blue gloves) during their Featherweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Swanson won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Whenever Cub Swanson fights, there's a chance for an explosive finish. He won't have to hunt down his opponent Saturday night, as Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens is never one to back down from a brawl.

Swanson has made it clear: He believes he deserves a shot at the title.

He has already faced and been knocked out by current champion Jose Aldo, but that was in 2009 when both were in WEC. He wants his crack at the title soon, but Stephens stands in his way.

'Lil Heathen has been up and down over the past three years. He had lost three fights in a row but followed that up with his current three-fight win streak. A win over Swanson would make him a prime contender to fight for the title in the near future.

The two men headline UFC Fight Night 44 in San Antonio, Texas. It is the second card from the promotion on the day. Much earlier—at least stateside—UFC Fight Night 43 will commence in New Zealand.

Another interesting fight on the FN 44 card features the return of another talented featherweight. Ricardo Lamas lost a unanimous decision to Aldo in his last fight, but he is looking to rebound against Hacran Dias. 

Lamas didn't like the way he fought against Aldo and has vowed to improve upon the performance. Per Kyle McLachlan of Bloody Elbow, Lamas said:

"I just didn't fight like myself. With a title riding on the line I didn't want to make too many mistakes and I was too conservative. I learned a lot from that fight and won't ever fight like that again."

Dias is a formidable opponent who is capable of testing Lamas.

Here's a look at the entire card, viewing information and predictions for the action in San Antonio. Just below the table is a closer look at the biggest main card bouts.

UFC Fight Night 44 - Main Card, Predictions and Viewing Info
UFC Fight Pass Prelim7:30 p.m. ET
MatchupWeight ClassPrediction
Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Anthony HamiltonHeavyweightHamilton by KO
Fox Sports 1 Prelim8 p.m. ET
MatchupWeight ClassPrediction
Ray Borg vs. Shane HowellFlyweightBorg by submission
Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Andy EnzMiddleweightGuimaraes by decision
Johnny Bedford vs. Cody GibsonBantamweightGibson by TKO
Colton Smith vs. Carlos Diego FerreiraLightweightSmith by decision
Main Card10 p.m. ET
MatchupWeight ClassPrediction
Joe Ellenberger vs. James MoontarsiLightweightEllenberger by TKO
Clint Hester vs. Antonio Braga NetoMiddleweightHester by TKO
Ricardo Lamas vs. Hacran DiasFeatherweightLamas by TKO
Cezar Ferreira vs. Andrew CraigMiddleweightFerreira by submission
Kevin Gastelum vs. Nico MusokeWelterweightGastelum by decision
Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy StephensFeatherweightSwanson by TKO
Card per UFC.com, picks by Brian Mazique

 

Ricardo "The Bully" Lamas vs. Hacran Dias

Feb 1, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Jose Aldo (red gloves) fights Ricardo Lamas (blue gloves) during UFC 169 at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Dias has put together a solid record outside of the UFC. He's 1-1 in his time with the promotion. Though he has a lot of experience in MMA, he hasn't faced fighters on par with Lamas.

With a renewed purpose, Lamas is even more dangerous now than he was before the loss to Aldo. His ground-and-pound game is among the best in the lower weight classes, and Dias' penchant to work from his back will put him in peril against the Bully.

Even if Lamas wasn't at his best against Aldo, he still did enough to keep the bout competitive. Against Aldo, that's an accomplishment.

Lamas will win it by TKO.

 

Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira vs. Andrew "Highlight" Craig

Aug 3, 2013; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil; Cezar Ferreira (white shorts) celebrates after his fight against Thiago Santos during UFC 163 at HSBC Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Coming off his first loss in the UFC, Ferreira has something to prove. Craig is a tough grinder who doesn't possess the natural athleticism that Mutante does, but he fights with heart.

What quality will win out on Saturday?

Bet on talent.

Ferreira has long been tabbed as a future force in the UFC. His speed, punching power and grappling make for an exciting combination of skills.

He is beginning to gain a reputation for having a weak chin, though.

He hit a speed bump in his knockout loss to C.B. Dollaway in March. Can Craig test Ferreira's chin? It's not likely. Keeping Ferreira from gaining the advantage on the ground will be Craig's biggest challenge.

Look for Ferreira to fight a smart, tactical fight that leads to ground domination and a submission win to re-establish his momentum.

 

Cub Swanson vs. Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stephens

The personalities and demeanors of the fighters in the main event are intriguing.

Jan 25, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Darren Elkins (red gloves) reacts after beating Jeremy Stephens (not pictured) during UFC on FOX 10 at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

'Lil Heathen might be the funniest nickname in all of sports, but there's nothing comical about Stephens' relentless style. He comes to bring the pain like Method Man, and his intentions are apparent in every punch.

Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Cub Swanson (red gloves) and Dennis Siver (blue gloves) during their Featherweight Bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Swanson won. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Swanson looks like an anti-hero from a Guy Ritchie movie, and fights with just as much attitude. This battle could live up to its billing as the featured attraction and earn Fight of the Night honors.

Both men can really bang if the fight takes place in the stand-up, but Stephens might have a slight edge when it comes to grappling. The question is this: Can Stephens' stamina hold up against Swanson, a noted horse in the energy department?

B/R's Sean Smith weighs in:

Although Stephens can definitely take Swanson down and might be able to grind out a decision win, it'll be tough for him to keep that up over 25 minutes. Swanson is strong enough on the ground to work some escapes, and he might even be able to wear Stephens down as the fight goes into the later rounds.

Because of Swanson's fitness level, resolve and punching power, he should score a late-round stoppage in one heck of a battle.

 

Just for Kicks

EA Sports UFC just released on Xbox One and Playstation 4 on June 17. I used the game to simulate the main event for UFC Fight Night 44. Only Swanson is included in the roster at this point—although updates are said to be on the way—so I had to create Stephens.

The facial image came out decently and his ratings are based on stats from FightMetric.com. Here we go!

 

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@BMaziqueFPBR