UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs. Stephens Preview

May of 2016 has stood out as a month that will be remembered for some of the UFC’s most exciting cards of the year and the promotion caps it off this Sunday, May 29th, with yet another lineup of highly competitive matches at UFC Fight Night 88, taking place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, USA.

There may not be a title up for grabs, but the card of UFC Fight Night 88 is stacked with compelling developments from top to bottom. Brazilian Bantamweight Thomas Almeida has stormed through the 135lb division thus far and find himself in the main event against the USA’s Cody Garbrandt.

Both men will face off at the age of 24, but with highly contrasting backgrounds. Garbrandt brings an undefeated record of 8-0, seven wins of which came via KO/TKO. However, the Team Alpha Male product has it all to do as he aims to establish himself against Almeida who will be on the hunt for top-10 opposition, should the no.7 ranked contender earn victory on May 29th. The Brazilian stands out among his Bantamweight counterparts with an undefeated 21-0 record, and boasts 19 finishes including 16 knockouts and 3 submissions. Almeida’s 2014 UFC debut saw him claim a Fight of the Night bonus alongside a Unanimous Decision win over Tim Gorman. He went on to storm through the trio of Yves Jabouin, Brad Pickett and Anthony Birchak, all via knockout.

The co-main event sees former UFC Bantamweight champion Renan Barão (33-3-(1))taking the bold step to go up in weight and join the 145lb Featherweight division. Barão has a history of finding it difficult to reach the cut to 135lbs limit, and with the IV ban in place, the 29-year-old Brazilian could find himself enjoying the physical benefits of preparing without the taxing effects of a strenuous weight cut.

Barão has not competed since the devastating TKO loss suffered against T.J. Dillashaw in their title rematch last July. There is an air of mystery surrounding Barão’s return. The great need to successfully bounce back from the lowest point in his career is apparent to all, and a sign of what he is still capable of is yet to be seen. The road to finding victory at 145lbs is steep as he meets Californian Jeremy Stephens (24-12,) a larger and hard hitting Featherweight who previously enjoyed a range of success in the Lightweight division.

Also on the main card, former Strikeforce champion and technical striking specialist Tarec Saffiedine (16-4) of Belgium meets hardy contender Rick Story (18-8) in a highly anticipated welterweight clash, plus the Preliminary Card streaming live on UFC Fight Pass features the highly rated and undefeated Aljamain Sterling (13-0) taking on the veteran ability of Bryan Caraway (20-7).

UFC Fight Night: Almeida vs. Stephens full card:

Main card
Bantamweight: Thomas Almeida vs. Cody Garbrandt
Featherweight: Renan Barão vs. Jeremy Stephens
Welterweight: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Rick Story
Middleweight: Chris Camozzi vs. Vitor Miranda
Welterweight: Jorge Masvidal vs. Lorenz Larkin
Lightweight: Josh Burkman vs. Paul Felder
Preliminary Card
Bantamweight: Sara McMann vs. Jessica Eye
Lightweight: Abel Trujillo vs. Jordan Rinaldi
Middleweight: Jake Collier vs. Alberto Uda
Lightweight: Erik Koch vs. Shane Campbell
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Bantamweight: Aljamain Sterling vs. Bryan Caraway
Heavyweight: Chris De La Rocha vs. Adam Milstead