As always, each fight preview comes with a suggested beer pairing. Don’t drink and omoplata, kids!
Benson Henderson vs. Rafael Dos Anjos
No slight to Rafael Dos Anjos, but to most MMA fans, it’s only a matter of time before Benson Henderson earns another shot at the lightweight title that he held for over a year and a half until running into arch nemesis Anthony Pettis. While Pettis has battled a knee injury and coached against Gilbert Melendez on TUF 20, Henderson has rattled off solid wins against Josh Thomson and a game Rustam Khabilov, and a win against Dos Anjos could be exactly what “Smooth” needs to set himself up as the obvious opponent for the winner of Pettis vs. Melendez.
Dos Anjos, a +250 underdog, stands a much better chance if this fight stays on the feet and at a comfortable range. He can throw with any lightweight, and will be smart not to get into a scramble situation with Henderson, who is notoriously tough to submit (just ask Donald Cerrone how tired you can get trying to choke Bendo out).
Pair This Fight With: Stoudts Smooth Hoperator
Reason: Nickname. Wordplay.
Ben Saunders vs. Chris Heatherly
After a successful stint in Bellator, where he went 7-3, Ben “Killa B” Saunders steps back into the Octagon for the first time in over four years this Saturday in Tulsa. In his return fight, Saunders will take on UFC newcomer Chris Heatherly, who brings an 8-1 record with him to the sport’s top promotion. Heatherly, a talented wrestler, will need to be wary of Saunders’ vicious knees when he drops his head for a takedown.
Pair This Fight With: Westbrook Brewing Co. White Thai
Reason: Saunders brand of thai boxing will likely pose a problem to the wrestler Heatherly, but this gingery twist on a Belgian witbier will do you no wrong.
James Vick vs. Valmir Lazaro
The reason you’re seeing this bout on the main card instead of one with more name value, like the aforementioned return of Ben Saunders, is that this stylistic matchup of two skilled and explosive strikers has all the potential to steal the show in Tulsa. The Brazilian Lazaro is riding an 11-fight win streak, with nine of those coming by way of KO or TKO. Vick, no slouch in the striking game himself, may look to challenge Lazaro’s as-yet-unseen ground game and poke for a submission rather than get into a striking war.
Pair This Fight With: Texas Pils (Community Beer Company)
Reason: Like the “Texecutioner” James Vick, this German-style pilsener comes from deep in the heart of the Lonestar State.
Mike Pyle vs. Jordan Mein
Stats may be secondary to highlight reel wins in MMA, but it’s worth noting that Pyle and Mein have the lowest combined percentages of wins by decision of any fighter pair on the card Saturday, at 15% and 21% respectively. Look for Mein to try to establish himself early in the middle of the Octagon and try to avoid being pulled into a dirty boxing match against the cage.
Pair This Fight With: Big Rock Traditional Ale
Reason: This English-style ale comes to us by way Jordan Mein’s home province, Alberta, Canada.
Joby Sanchez vs. Wilson Reis
You’ll need UFC Fight Pass to catch this early flyweight bout, but it’ll be worth it to catch the UFC debut of Joby Sanchez, a 23-year-old prospect under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. The 6-0 Sanchez will take on Wilson Reis, who makes his flyweight debut on Saturday after dropping down from 135 lbs. While half of Sanchez’s career wins have come via submission, look for him to keep this one standing to avoid the Brazilian’s slick subs.
Pair This Fight With: Stone Brewing Co. Levitation Ale
Reason: If he’s going to stay comfortable at 125, Reis will need to avoid those heavy stouts. This lighter ale from the always good Stone Brewing Co. should keep you happy and your beer gut in check.
Photo: Zuffa LLC via Getty Images