COLE’S TAKE: Fights to make after UFC 216

BY COLE HENRY, MMA TORCH CONTRIBUTOR

Tony Ferguson (photo credit Etzel Espinosa © PWTorch)

Main Card

Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee

Tony Ferguson finally has some gold around his waist, and it took getting through a very game Kevin Lee to earn it. Ferguson has been through the best of the best of the lightweight division, and has a legit claim to being the best at 155 pounds. Still though, he is not the actual champion and until that happens there is room for argument. I would not be surprised to see Conor McGregor fight somebody other than Tony Ferguson next, but for the sake of this article I will assume that Dana White isn’t full of it for once and we will actually see McGregor defend his belt against the rightful challenger. The idea of a Tony Ferguson-Conor McGregor fight appeals to me a whole lot more now than it did before the Ferguson-Lee fight, but can the same be said for McGregor?

The fight to make next: Tony Ferguson vs. Conor McGregor

Kevin Lee really surprised me with his effort, and I don’t mean that as an insult towards Lee at all. I knew he was good, but I thought he still had some ways to go before he could compete with the best of the best. I was clearly wrong though, and while he still needs some work, he is clearly capable of competing with anybody in the division. Still though, I think Tony Ferguson was a massive step up in competition, and I think it should be scaled back a bit for his next outing. It would be a bit of a random match up, but I really like the idea of Lee vs. Charles Oliveira. Kevin Lee’s grappling looked good against Tony Ferguson, until he got caught. I would be interested to see if Lee could solve the problem that is Oliveira’s BJJ game. If he can, another top 5 opponent could be in the works for Lee.

The fight to make next: Kevin Lee vs. Charles Oliveira

Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg

Demetrious Johnson made Ray Borg look like he didn’t belong in the same octagon. He dominated nearly every second of the fight before finishing Borg late with an epic armbar that will be in the highlight reel for years. But something about the fight didn’t sit well with me and a few of those that I watched the fight with. It felt cheap, and predictable, and while I like Johnson as a fighter, his fights have grown tiresome. Even the epic finishes do not save what are otherwise rather dull fights, most of the time. He is clearly fighting over matched opponents, and while that’s not his fault, it still is what it is.

Johnson still doesn’t seem to have a signature win, despite everything that he has done in his career, and I think that is more of a statement about his division than anything else. Johnson really needs a big fight to make it to the next level, and I think for that to happen he will need an opponent from outside of his division. Whether they meet at 125 for the belt, or at 135 in a super fight, I think that Demetrious Johnson vs. TJ Dillashaw is the fight to make. Now of course this could be impacted by the outcome of the Dillashaw-Garbrandt fight, but still I think at this point it is the fight that makes the most sense.

The fight to make next: Demetrious Johnson vs. TJ Dillashaw at 125 or 135

Ray Borg has missed weight several times, and now after this weekend he will always be remembered for submitting to one of the most epic submissions ever. Ray Borg needs to get back on track, and in a big way. He is still very young, but really showed no signs that he could ever be a threat to Johnson. He will grow as a fighter and hopefully find his way back to a title shot.

In the meantime though, he will have to pick up the pieces and start over. The flyweight division is starving for challengers, and I think the only way to create them is to book lesser known fighters against these guys that get the rub from fighting Johnson. He has gone through everybody, and they need new challengers. So, for that reason I think the UFC should book Ray Borg against Ben Nguyen. With a win here, Nguyen would be 5-1 in the UFC, and people have received shots against Johnson with far less impressive records.

The fight to make next: Ray Borg vs. Ben Nguyen

Fabricio Werdum def. Walt Harris

Fabricio Werdum took this fight on short notice, just as his opponent Walt Harris did. Werdum had a lot to lose, Harris didn’t. Werdum didn’t waste much time getting the fight to the ground, and easily submitted the over matched Harris in just over a minute. Werdum can probably fight again soon, and the logical fight to make is a re-booking against Derrick Lewis, assuming that his back allows it.

The fight to make next: Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis

Walt Harris stepped up, and good on him, but he was clearly out matched and needs to go back to the middle of the division. A fight with Daniel Spitz makes sense here.

The fight to make next: Walt Harris vs. Daniel Spitz

Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham ended in a Majority Draw

Beneil Dariush has been largely successful throughout his UFC career but he is now winless in two straight fights for the first time in his career. While he looked great in the first round, he seemed to fade as the fight progressed and I actually scored the fight for Dunham; for what that’s worth. (Not much, I know…but let me have my fun.) After suffering a big KO loss to Edson Barboza, and fighting to a draw with Dunham, Dariush really needs a win here. I think a fight with Francisco Trinaldo makes sense here.

The fight to make next: Beneil Dariush vs. Francisco Trinaldo

Evan Dunham seemed like a hot prospect at the beginning of his career but faded as his career moved along. Lately though, he has returned to form and had pulled off four straight wins before the draw this past weekend; something he hadn’t managed since starting his UFC career 4-0. Dunham is now 4-0-1 in his last 5, and as I stated above I really think that he won this fight. A fight with Clay Guida makes sense here. It will give two long time UFC vets a chance to finally fight each other, and a win for either would be a nice feather in the cap.

The fight to make next: Evan Dunham vs. Clay Guida

 

Prelims

Cody Stamman def. Tom Duquesnoy

Fights to make next: Cody Stamman vs. Joe Soto & Tom Duquesnoy vs. Johnny Eduardo

Lando Vanata vs. Bobby Green ended in a Split Draw

Fights to make next: Lando Vanata vs. Abel Trujillo & Bobby Green vs. Marco Polo Reyes

Poliana Botelho def. Pearl Gonzalez

Fights to make next: Poliana Botelho vs. JJ Aldrich & Pearl Gonzalez vs. Jessica Aguilar

Matt Schnell def. Marco Beltran

Fights to make next: Matt Schnell vs. Tim Elliott (Ultimate Fighter rematch) & Marco Beltran vs. Magomed Bibulatov

John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov

Fights to make next: John Moraga vs. Joseph Benavidez & Magomed Bibulatov vs. Marco Beltran

Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites

Fights to make next: Brad Tavares vs. Sam Alvey & Thales Leites vs. Hector Lombard


NOW CHECK OUT COLE’S PREVIOUS TAKE: Fights to make after UFC Fight Night 115

 

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