Jon Anik doesn’t hide his emotions when it comes to discussing the sport he covers.
The event features a headline bout between featherweight contenders Cub Swanson and Jeremy Stephens, but there are plenty of other reasons to tune in, according to Anik.
“The co-main event, with Nico Musoke and Kelvin Gastelum, is a special fight for me,” Anik said. “Not a lot of people are familiar with Nico, but he stepped up on short notice and got the ‘Submission of the Night’ against Alessio Sakara.”
Musoke has won both of his UFC fights, scoring a decision vs. Viscardi Andrade earlier this year in Brazil. He is 12-2 overall and will be facing the unbeaten Gastelum (8-0), a winner on The Ultimate Fighter.
“I think Nico is smart enough to realize the intensity that Gastelum brings (is dangerous),” Anik said. “He’s just 22. If you don’t get to him early, he is going to be a hard guy to beat.”
Another main card bout will see Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira face off against Andrew Craig. Ferreira (7-3) was a winner on TUF: Brazil, but suffered a knockout loss to CB Dollaway this past March. Craig (9-2) is 1-2 in his last three overall, but holds wins over Chris Leben and Rafael Natal.
“When Mutante is one, he is a guy who can be featured on FOX Sports 1 main cards and pay-per-views for years to come,” Anik said. “It will be interesting to see how he responds to the knockout loss.
“Craig is a hard guy to put away, but I think Mutante has a treat opportunity. This has ‘Fight of the Night’ written all over it with two guys who can take damage and dish it out.”
Anik made sure to not forget about the main card opener, as Joe Ellenberger will finally make his long-awaited UFC debut against James Moontasri. Ellenberger is the brother of Jake Ellenberger and owns a 14-1 career record.
“A rare blood disease kept Joe out of competition and he has been dealing with getting five or six different opponents,” Anik said. “I expect his best foot forward. Here is a guy who has had so many struggles, but is realizing his dream and kicks off five free hours of fights on (FOX Sports 1).”
Ellenberger was diagnosed with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a disease that has just about 8,000 known cases in the U.S. He has gone through numerous changes in opponents, including scheduled fights with Frank Trevino, Johnny Case and Bryan Barberena.
FightLine will have complete coverage of the card, including live play-by-play of the action.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Pat Lovell