On Saturday, June 28, the UFC hosted UFC Fight Night 44: Swanson vs. Stephens from the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

In the night’s main event, hard-hitting featherweights Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens collided with a potential title shot on the line. Swanson entered the contest riding a five-fight winning streak that included four finishes via strikes. The 30-year-old had only tasted defeat once inside the Octagon since moving over from the WEC. Across the cage, the 28-year-old Stephens looked to continue his climb up the 145-pound ranks. After dropping three straight fights at lightweight, Stephens had reinvented himself at featherweight, scoring three straight wins.

The night’s co-main event featured The Ultimate Fighter 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum against Sweden’s Nicholas Musoke. Gastelum carried a perfect, 8-0 record into the contest, having won three straight inside the UFC. Musoke, meanwhile, had picked up two straight wins since joining the promotion in late 2013

The 11-fight event kicked off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET with a lone fight streaming live on the promotion’s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. Four additional preliminary card fights followed on Fox Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, with the six-fight main card beginning at 10 p.m. ET, also on Fox Sports 1.

Main Card Summary

Cub Swanson topped Jeremy Stephens in an outstanding main event between two featherweight contenders. The two men engaged in a technical, back-and-forth, stand-up battle over the course of 25 minutes. Swanson started off strong as the fighter who was lighter on his feet. Swanson landed the higher volume of strikes, while Stephens plodded forward looking for power shots. Momentum swung in various directions throughout this fight and the first one took place late in the first round when Stephens caught a Swanson body kick and threw a right hand straight down the pipe. Stephens continued that momentum through the second round where he again staggered Swanson with a right hand. Swanson was more tentative through the rest of that round until the momentum changed again in the third. Swanson clearly hurt Stephens with a body kick and then followed it up with right hand after right hand, but somehow Stephens was able to stay upright. That sequence seemed to be the instance that changed the rest of the fight. It gave Swanson the confidence to be the aggressor for the remainder of the fight. Stephens still had his fair share of moments with his powerful right hand, but Swanson secured the victory on the judges’ scorecards.

Kelvin Gastelum continued his rise through the welterweight division by dominating the final two rounds en route to a unanimous decision over Nicholas Musoke. The underdog, Musoke, came out strong early and actually took the first round from Gastelum. He landed a straight right hand flush to the chin of Gastelum early and was also able to score two takedowns in the first round. Gastelum made some serious adjustments on the stool and came out a different man in the second round. Gastelum was very aggressive and peppered Musoke with combinations. The third round was very similar as well. Gastelum kept Musoke on his heels with consistent right hooks and body kicks. Gastelum couldn’t get the finish on this night, but he got his fourth win inside the octagon.

Cezar Ferreira delivered the most composed performance of his UFC career and got a unanimous decision victory over Andrew Craig. Ferreira still had his moments of explosiveness, but he never got overzealous. In the first round he opened up a cut on the top of Craig’s head with strikes and also scored a huge, power double-leg takedown. The second round was very similar for the two middleweights. The third was definitely the biggest in terms of action. Ferreira sliced open Craig with a standing elbow strike very early in the round. After that he took the fight to the ground and was on the back of Craig for an extended period of time. Craig was finally able to return to his feet in the final minute and he finally let his aggressiveness go. He rocked Ferreira with a head kick. Craig tried to push forward and get the finish, but he simply ran out of time.

Ricardo Lamas got back to his winning ways with a unanimous decision victory over Hacran Dias. This fight was about as evenly matched as you could get. It was like a defensive battle in the NFL with both fighters doing a great job at stifling the other from getting big spurts of offense. Dias defended all of Lamas’ takedown attempts in the first round and did a great job of landing accurate strikes. Lamas stayed tenacious though. He continued to go for those takedowns throughout the entire fight. Lamas didn’t keep Dias down for any extended amount of time, but he kept the pressure on the Brazilian and he was the more aggressive fighter on the feet as well by throwing various combinations. The closest we came to seeing a finish in the fight was when Lamas almost locked in a standing rear-naked choke, but Dias was able to shake him off of his back. Lamas ended the final minute of the fight on the aggressive side and was unanimously awarded the decision.

Clint Hester just edged Antonio Braga Neto in a battle of rising middleweight prospects. Hester had to gut it out for every bit of success he had in this one. Hester’s advantage in this bout was clearly on the feet and he had success in this area early in every round landing solid straight punches and right hooks. But, Neto was able to bring the fight down into his world in every round. The earliest he got the done in was the first. He mounted Hester and looked like he might be able to find a submission, but Hester showed improved defensive jiu-jitsu. Hester was able to keep the fight standing longer in the second and open up with the strikes and Neto didn’t have as much success in the ground game. In the third Hester had big success on the feet early and even ended up on top of Neto for a portion of the round. After the final bell the only thing that was clear was that the judge’s call would be close. Two of the three judges awarded Hester the extremely close second round and the victory.

Joe Ellenberger and James Moontasri kicked off the main card with a war of attrition. Moontasri came out strong in the beginning for a man taking the fight on very short notice. Moontasri dropped Ellenberger with an uppercut and went to work on getting the finish. Ellenberger gutted it out and survived the round. Ellenberger made an amazing comeback in the second round. He took Moontasri down, landed some solid strikes, and nearly submitted his opponent with a d’arce choke. Those two rounds clearly took a lot out of both men heading into the third. It was the least action packed frame of the fight, but Ellenberger did enough especially in controlling Moontasri up against the cage to earn a razor-thin split decision victory.

Preliminary Card Summary

Carlos Diego Ferreira impressed the masses in his UFC debut. Ferreira took Colton Smith down with a judo throw in the opening seconds of the bout.  Once the fight was on the mat, the Brazilian locked up a modified rear-naked choke and the fight was over in less than a minute.

Fireworks went off early between Cody Gibson and Johnny Bedford, but unfortunately the fight was stopped prematurely. Both men came out ready to go and threw big power shots. Bedford backed Gibson towards the cage and landed some big uppercuts. Gibson came back firing though with a big right hand. Bedford crashed to the mat, and although he looked like he still had his composure, the referee came in and stopped the bout.

It wasn’t the most technical of battles, but Marcelo Guimaraes got the job done in his return to middleweight against Andy Enz. Both men stood right in front of each other ready to trade heavy leather from the beginning. Both men landed their fair share of power shots throughout the fight, but there were a couple of factors that ended up swaying the fight in Guimaraes’ favor. Enz came into the fight with a sizable reach advantage, but Guimaraes was able to get inside and score multiple brief takedowns that put the judges on notice. The biggest factor in the fight though was the Brazilian’s ability to consistently land leg kicks. The low kicks slowed Enz down considerably and the American never got to checking the kicks.  In the end one judge saw the fight a clean sweep for Enz, but the other two got it right and awarded the fight to Guimaraes.

Ray Borg rebounded from a controversial loss in his UFC debut with a flawless submission victory over Shane Howell. Borg got the fight down to the ground very early on. Howell tried to scramble, but Borg ended up taking his back. When he did, he immediately strapped on a rear-naked choke. Howell was game and survived, but Borg stayed on his back and continued to look for the choke. The second time under the chin was the charm and Howell had no choice but to tap.

It took Oleksiy Oleinik 58 career fights to get to the UFC, but it was all worth it after he made quick work of Anthony Hamilton in his UFC debut. Oleinik, who is known as a grappler, looked comfortable on his feet from the start. There was a brief stop in the action, but Oleinik went right back to work. He rocked the American on the feet before taking him right to the ground. Once he was there it didn’t take long for him to lock on a scarf hold neck crank and Hamilton was forced to tap out.

FULL RESULTS
Cub Swanson def. Jeremy Stephens by unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47)
Kelvin Gastelum def. Nicholas Musoke by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Cezar Ferreira def. Andrew Craig by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
Ricardo Lamas def. Hacran Dias by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Clint Hester def. Antonio Braga Neto by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Joe Ellenberger def. James Moontasri by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Carlos Diego Ferreira def. Colton Smith by submission (modified rear-naked choke). Round 1, 0:38
Cody Gibson def. Johnny Bedford by TKO (punch). Round 1, 0:38
Marcelo Guimaraes def. Andy Enz by split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Ray Borg def. Shane Howell by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 2:17
Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Anthony Hamilton by submission (scarf hold neck crank). Round 1, 2:18

About The Author

Trey Downey
Staff Writer

A Central Florida native, Trey Downey's interest in MMA came after a trip to Blockbuster and the rental of UFC 47 on VHS. He has been blogging about the sport since 2011 and hosted a podcast called The TD Experience focusing on football and MMA (touchdowns and takedowns). Trey studied radio and television at the University of Central Florida and will soon be attending the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Trey enjoys watching sports, pro wrestling and is an avid runner.