UFC Fight Night 49: What’s next for the main card winners?

Rafael Dos Anjos became the first fighter in history to stop former UFC champ Benson Henderson by KO or TKO.

Rafael Dos Anjos became the first fighter in history to stop former UFC champ Benson Henderson by KO or TKO.

UFC Fight Night 49 went down in Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend and while it wasn’t noteworthy in the eyes of many on paper, the event delivered some spectacular action with five of the six main card fights ending in finishes.

In the main event, Rafael Dos Anjos became just the first fighter to finish former Lightweight champ Benson Henderson by strikes as a devastating knee-punch combination merited a referee intervention in the first round. Despite the stoppage being protested by many as an early one, Dos Anjos was ultra-impressive leading up to the finish, displaying perhaps the best version of himself to date.

In the co-main event, a similar outcome unfolded as Canada’s Jordan Mein TKO’ed former WEC champ Mike Pyle in stunning fashion. Mein has now won two on the trot and a case for a higher ranked opponent could well be on the cards for the 24-year-old.

But elsewhere on the main card, it’d be criminal to disregard the likes of Thales Leites, Max Holloway, James Vick and Chas SKelly, who all produced top notch performances en route to dominant victories.

So with that, it’s that time again where we at MMASucka.com play “matchmaker” and derive match-ups that could materialize for the main card winners. Sitting on the matchmaker’s armchair is no easy task by any standards so if your solutions differ from ours, state them in the comments section below.

Let’s get started!


  • Name: Chas Skelly (12-1)
  • Who he should face next: Jim Alers (13-1)

After an underwhelming showing in his UFC debut, which also resulted in the first loss of his promising career, Skelly dominated Tom Niinimaki to get back on track. With regards to picking his next opponent, there shouldn’t be any problems given how the Featherweight division consists of multiple up-and-coming talents. But Jim Alers’ dynamic style could make for a interesting outing for Skelly, who in return, will be looking in for a solid challenge.

This is the sort of match-up that separates the contenders from the pretenders and fans would love nothing more than to see two touted prospects locking horns with one another.

  • Name: James Vick (6-0)
  • Who he should face next: Mitch Clarke (11-2)

The Ultimate Fighter veteran James Vick left Tulsa on Saturday night with his unbeaten record still in tact, after getting his hands raised for the second time in the octagon.

Another fighter who recently turned in an impressive showing is Mitch Clarke. After struggling with inconsistency upon linking up with the UFC ranks, Clarke has finally hit his stride, winning two straight bouts. Both fighters are unlikely to make it into the championship picture anytime soon but Clarke has the tools to test Vick and mesh for an intriguing 155-lbs affair.

  • Name: Max Holloway (10-3)
  • Who he should face next: Thiago Tavares (19-5-1)

It’s hard to picture a 22-year-old being a veteran of nine UFC fights, but that’s what Hawaii’s Max Holloway has accomplished since putting pen-to-paper with the Las Vegas-based outfit. With that said, Holloway currently sits in as one of the quietest fighters with a three-fight winning streak and it’s perhaps time for a step-up in competition for the Hawaiian.

Thiago Tavares had a successful debut at 145-lbs, defeating Robbie Peralta just a week ago and if Holloway wants to be taken more seriously, defeating Tavares might be a step in the right direction.

  • Name: Thales Leites (24-4)
  • Who he should face next: C.B. Dolloway (15-5)

The UFC’s Middleweight division is starting to stack some new contenders and after a win on Saturday night, Thales Leites might have just added his name to the mix. The 33-year-old is unbeaten in his last seven outings and is a perfect 4-0 since his return to the promotion. He’s been outstanding.

But where does that leave him? A fight against a ranked opponent next, of course. On a two-fight winning streak, UFC staple C.B. Dolloway fits that void perfectly. He will be a tough proposition that could push Leites produce his best performance yet.

  • Name: Jordan Mein (29-9)
  • Who he should face next: Kelvin Gastelum (9-0)

At just a tender age of 24, Mein has already amassed 38 pro MMA bouts in his career. The Canadian’s current two-fight win streak hasn’t come as a surprise to many, either, because frankly, he has shown he can get the job done consistently at the highest level. While there’s still a long way to go before Mein truly stands out in the 170-lbs division, a win over unbeaten prodigy, Kelvin Gastelum, could fast track his shift up the ladder.

Gastelum has been making waves since winning ‘The Ultimate Fighter: 17’ reality series and this will certainly be a tough test for both fighters.

  • Name: Rafael Dos Anjos (22-7)
  • Who he should face next: Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0)

Some people called it an upset, some said it was pure quality. How ever you perceived Dos Anjos’ splendid victory over Benson Henderson, the Brazilian has once again proved that he belongs in the upper echelon of the 155-lbs pile. At this point, with a win over a former champ, the 29-year-old might be on the verge of a title shot; it’s just a matter of when.

But, with a perfect record in MMA competition to his name, Russian maestro Khabib Nurmagomedov has also earned the right to challenge for the strap. The Russian many have won the first outing but with so much stakes between them, this is a rematch that makes sense for all parties involved.

For full UFC Fight Night 49 results, click here.

*Pictures credit: Ultimate Fighting Championship

Follow Thinesh on Twitter (@ThineshJohnMMA), and keep up with the latest MMA news from MMASucka via Twitter (@MMASucka) and Facebook

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20, Asian MMA enthusiast in Singapore.

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