UFC 216 PRIMER: Monsey’s preview & predictions for Ferguson vs. Lee, Borg vs. Johnson, Werdum vs. Lewis, Dariush vs. Dunham

BY RICK MONSEY, MMATorch Contributor

Las Vegas is the host for UFC 216.  This pay per view is a mixed bag of high expectations and some unfortunate fight cancellations. A heavyweight clash between Stipe Miocic and Cain Valesquez was supposed to be the headliner but sadly it was not meant to be.  Instead the main event will be an interim title bout between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee.  Another fight recently taken off this card was Paige VanZant vs. Jessica Eye due to VanZant suffering multiple ailments.  Here’s hoping she feels better and we get that bout down the road.  Anyways, let’s stop talking about what isn’t happening and focus on the card that is coming up on October 7th.



Tony Ferguson (22-3) vs. Kevin Lee (16-2) – Lightweight  155 lbs.

As previously mentioned this wasn’t intended to be the main event but things change in the MMA world often.  Now, with the interim title being thrown in the mix the winner will surely be guaranteed a title shot against champion Conor McGregor, right?  No, not necessarily.  In fact the rumors are that Conor’s next opponent may very well be Nate Diaz in a big money trilogy fight.  Where does that leave our participants in the main event of UFC 216?

Ferguson and Lee should see this as a chance to showcase their skills and make fans demand to see them fight Conor.  The winner of the main event can have the biggest post fight call out opportunity of their careers.  They demand that Connor have his next bout be title vs. title.  But to even consider that as an option this main event needs to be exciting and not a five round snooze fest.  Fight of the night might not even be good enough.  These competitors have to show the MMA world why they deserve to get the next money fight.

Focusing on the fight itself there is a very good possibility it can surpass people’s expectations because both of these guys are exciting. Kevin Lee has won five straight fights in the past two years.  While those wins are impressive what’s really making people take notice is Lee’s gift of gab.  In an industry where the ability to self-promote is becoming more valuable by the day, Kevin Lee has become a natural.  He has been calling out many different fighters and even asked to be a coach on the Ultimate Fighter.  Now, with his fighting skills and trash talk he is in the main event of a pay per view.   Lee’s main offensive style is wrestling and he uses that very effectively to introduce his striking and submissions.

Speaking of submission skills Tony Ferguson is a fan of the D’Arce Choke himself. He has used that maneuver successfully to earn three victories.  Ferguson has been on a path of domination since 2013; victorious in his last nine bouts.  His last fight against Rafael dos Anjos was very entertaining and showed that Ferguson can dominate a former lightweight champion.   Ferguson has faced all sorts of different styles and found a way to win and that is what will happen at UFC 216.  Ferguson has faced good wrestlers in the past; that is nothing new to him.  He will be able to use his Jiu-Jitsu and get the submission.  If Ferguson respects Lee’s wrestling too much and they both decide to stand, Ferguson still has the advantage and can take out Lee on the feet.  Either way Ferguson will have the microphone for a post-fight call out of McGregor.  Ferguson will need to give the promo of his life and have the “Notorious One” take notice.

Pick: Ferguson by Submission

Demetrious Johnson (29-2) vs. Ray Borg (14-2) – Flyweight 125 lbs.

Wasn’t this fight supposed to have happened already?  Don’t worry you’re not experiencing déjà vu.  It was previously scheduled for UFC 215 but Ray Borg had come down with an illness.  A month later this fight went from the main event of UFC 215 to the demotion of a co-main for UFC 216.

The interest for this fight seems “demoted “as well.  Passion from the fans doesn’t seem to be very high but that doesn’t mean it will not be fun to watch.  History can be made with a victory from either competitor.

Ray Borg can make history by beating Johnson and becoming only the second champion in the UFC flyweight division’s history.  To achieve this Borg has to be either flawless or lucky.  Nobody has been able to beat Johnson since he won the title so Borg cannot let any moment get away from him.  Borg needs to take Johnson down and demonstrate complete ground control.

Demetrious Johnson can hold the record for most title defenses in UFC history with a win here.  Johnson getting a win is what will most likely happen.  Johnson has multiple paths to victory.  He can let Borg get close and either finish him off with strikes or take him down and submit Borg.  Regardless of the outcome let’s just hope it’s entertaining.  Demetrious Johnson can make history but will it matter if nobody is passionate about the significance.

Pick: Johnson by Submission

Fabrício Werdum (21-7) vs. Derrick Lewis (18-5) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.

Fabrício Werdum is looking to rebound from his disappointing loss to Alistair Overeem.   Derrick Lewis is on a similar path coming off a recent defeat at the hands of Mark Hunt and exhaustion.  The difference is that Werdum could have arguably won his last fight but Lewis looked done after his bout with Hunt.  In fact, Lewis even stated he was going to retire.  The retirement didn’t seem to last long because four months later this heavyweight collision will take place.

Werdum has some advantages here that will earn him the victory.  Lewis has a tendency to get tired and Werdum can use that.  Werdum just needs to avoid Lewis’s heavy hands and get the submission.   Werdum is a good striker; an example of that is his knockout over Mark Hunt.  Werdum shouldn’t gamble on the same thing happening here with Lewis.  One misstep can send Werdum into a state of unconsciousness.  Lewis’s best shot is to stay standing and try to connect with his opponent’s chin.  Even if Lewis finds himself in Werdum’s guard Lewis should furiously throw ground and pound before he gets caught.  Lewis doesn’t want to tap out for the first time.  For either fighter a win can put them back into the heavyweight title mix.

Pick: Werdum by Decision

Beneil Dariush (14-3) vs. Evan Dunham (18-6) – Lightweight 155 lbs.

Beneil Dariush is looking to rebound from being the recipient of a devastating knockout loss in his last fight.  Dariush now faces Evan Dunham who is on a four-fight win streak.   Dariush and Dunham are both well-rounded fighters.  What will separate them is who can dictate the fight to where they are strongest.  That means Dariush will need to keep the action standing and striking.   Dunham would be wise to get the takedown and look for a submission.  Each competitor is considered a top fifteen talent so this could produce some exciting results.  This is probably the closest pick ‘em on the main card.

Pick: Dunham by decision

NOW CHECK OUT THE LATEST ROUNDTABLE: Who wins the Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis fight and why?



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