It would be interesting to know the last time a UFC event took place without a bout being scratched due to injury. When a fighter has to drop out of an anticipated fight, it’s always frustrating for them and unfortunate for fans, but every once in a while it seems to work out. That’s certainly the case for Jordan Mein and Mike Pyle when it comes to UFC Fight Night 49 later this month. Mein was scheduled to take on Brandon Thatch is a bout featuring two of the most exciting young strikers in the welterweight division, but Thatch was forced to withdraw with a broken toe. That left Mein without an opponent, until yesterday. With Demian Maia dropping out of his scheduled clash against Pyle, both men were left without opponents for the same card, so the UFC did the sensible thing and matched them together. While the style isn’t nearly as intriguing as watching Mein and Thatch duke it out on the feet or Pyle and Maia hunt for submissions against each other, this should still be an entertaining scrap. Mike Pyle is one of the best suited fighters to the gatekeeper role in MMA, as he has well-rounded skills and a ton of experience. Not short on experience himself, Mein — who actually has one more pro fight than Pyle — is a whopping 14 years younger than his new foe. Despite all his experience Mein still fights like a 24-year-old, with wildly inconsistent performances from bout to bout, and sometimes even in the same bout. If he has a lull against Pyle, that may be all it takes for him to drop this bout. Mein has garnered a lot of support from the public since coming over to the UFC and there always seem to be doubts about Pyle’s durability, so the young Canadian will likely open as a favorite, but he shouldn’t even be 2-to-1 in my estimation. Two months later, the UFC Fight Night 54 card in Halifax is starting to take shape. A bout between bantamweight contenders Raphael Assuncao and Bryan Caraway has been confirmed. This could very well crown the next title contender at 135, as Assuncao is on a six-fight winning streak and Caraway would be as well had he been given the decision against Takeya Mizugaki, a bout which had nearly everyone split on a winner. The ground game is the strong suit of both men, but Assuncao is the better technician on the feet, so look for him to try to keep things upright here. The Brazilian will also likely open as a favorite, but he has been submitted before and Caraway is one of the best in MMA at taking the back and forcing the tap, so he will be a live dog for the fourth consecutive bout. Additionally, two debuting strawweights at the combined age of Dan Henderson will step into the Octagon in Halifax. Paige van Zant and Kailan Curran are both seen as prospects in the division, and as we’ve watched other divisions sort themselves out over the past few years, those prospects can emerge extremely quickly. The lone loss on van Zant’s record was a defeat to Tecia Torres, who is one of the favorites to become the first UFC strawweight champion, while Curran is undefeated. Van Zant’s higher level of competition could be the difference here, but with only one stoppage among their seven combined fights, it would seem the over is a safer bet here when lines are released. On the other side of the world, ONE FC finalized their August 29th event, which will have three title bouts taking place. ONE FC 19 will see Shinya Aoki defending his lightweight belt against Kamal Shalorus in the main event, Nobutatsu Suzuki relinquishing Ben Askren‘s belt to the funky one after holding on to it so kindly for him over the past few months, and Koji Oishi looking to retain at featherweight against one of the top five names in MMA today, Jadamba Narantungulag. UFC vets Roger Huerta and James McSweeney are also on the card, while female Boxing star Ana Julaton makes her second MMA appearance.
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