UFC 216 Breakdown
Written by: MJ Adelman
UFC 216 goes down Saturday night and this event has largely flown under most people’s radar but true fight fans are excited for this card. The co-main event has historic implications as Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson seeks his 11th straight Flyweight (125lbs) title defense which would break the record currently held by Anderson “The Spider” Silva who successfully defended his strap 10 straight times. The main-event is for the UFC Lightweight (155lb) Interim belt and the winner should be next in line to fight Conor McGregor to unify the title, depending on what Conor decides to do. Hopefully for the integrity of the 155lb division that unification fight will take place in a timely fashion, but let’s face it, Conor has options no one else in the UFC has.
This event goes down in Las Vegas at the T-Mobile arena, the first 3 fights are on UFC Fight Pass starting at 5:30pm Central time, FX has 4 undercard fights starting at 7pm Central time and then the Pay Per View starts at 9pm Central time and I will break down those 5 fights for you here. Obviously this event takes place in the wake of the tragic shooting spree this week. Thoughts go out to those affected by this tragedy and let’s hope everyone stays safe this weekend in Vegas and around the world as well.
UFC Interim Lightweight Championship
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (22-3) vs. Kevin “Motown Phenom” Lee (16-2)
ODDS: Ferguson (-220), Lee (+180)
Kevin Lee if fresh off a rear-naked choke victory over Michael Chiesa and got on a lot of people’s radar after he called out Tony in an interview while Tony was conducting for the UFC. You can say that he talked himself into this fight by doing that and be entertaining and I would agree with all that, but I also don’t think that is a bad thing and that we should accept that is the state of MMA today, it is a money driven entertainment industry. That being said, Lee is a worthy opponent. The 25 year old has won 5 fights in the last 18 months and has won 9 of his last 10 fights. Ferguson is on a 9 fight winning streak, beating much tougher opponents and has not lost since 2012. Look for an exciting fight, both men love to stand and bang, but ground games are solid and either may choose to take the fight to the ground depending on what happens on the feet. Look for Ferguson to start to pick up the pace going into the championship rounds where his experience will help him even more. Ferguson has been in numerous 5 round fights where Lee has only been scheduled for one, that did not end up going that long. This fight could end quickly, so don’t blink. However, I see Ferguson winning a decision victory.
*OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Ferguson def Lee via decision*
UFC Flyweight Championship
Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) vs. Ray Borg (11-2)
ODDS: Johnson (-1375), Borg (+900)
A lot of hardcore UFC fans seem to be mad that this potential historic fight for an actual title is not the main event of this card. I will point out again that this is an entertainment industry, and what is the fight you want to see more? No disrespect to Johnson, if anything his problem is that he is too good. He has cleaned out the division and has done it without being in any serious trouble at all. He’s not a trash talker, and he has not had anyone challenge him, so you don’t hear much about him and here he is trying to get his 11th straight title defense and most people could not pick him out of a lineup. I see him winning this fight however he wants to, he is really just that good. I think Johnson will catch Borg with a punch late in the first round and grab a submission and get out with a quick night’s work and his 11th straight title defense. The only question that will remain is, what’s next? Hopefully he will change his mind about the idea of a “super fight” and agree to fight someone like TJ Dillashaw, because I don’t think I want to watch him make another round with the competition in the 125lb division.
*OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Johnson def Borg via submission round 1*
Derrick Lewis (18-5) vs. Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1)
ODDS: Werdum (-255), Lewis (+215)
Both Lewis and Werdum are coming off of a loss to Mark Hunt and Allistair Overeem respectively. The heavyweight division fights have been ending by KO at a much higher rate than the UFC at large, and this fight should not be an exception to that rule. Let me make that more clear, someone is getting #KTFO. In my opinion Werdum’s best days are behind him, I don’t see a senerio where he gets the belt back, but he is still a very dangerous opponent. Werdum will have the advantage if he can get the fight to the ground, whether he is on top or bottom, Lewis does not have a ground game good enough to deal with the level of BJJ that Werdum has. That being said, I don’t think Werdum will be able to get Lewis to the ground and I even suspect that he will try to stand and trade with him. Lewis is a murderous puncher and I don’t see this night ending well for Werdum. So there it is, my upset pick.
*OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Lewis def Werdum via KO/TKO round 3*
Kalindra Faria (18-5-1) vs. Mara Romero Borella (11-4)
ODDS: Faria (-210), Romero Borella (+175)
If you don’t recognize these names, don’t feel bad. When the Jessica Eye vs Paige VanZant fight fell through, this fight was added to give the fans a preview of the new Woman’s 125lb division. The UFC is less than 2 months away from crowning a new champion at “The Ultimate Fighter 26” Finale on December 1st. Both of these women will be much closer to an ideal fighting weight at 125lbs. Faria throws nasty kicks and is a BJJ stereotype with a good submission game. Borella has decent submissions as well, and her striking has been improving, I don’t think it is on the same level as Faria. Faria should be able to find a way to stop Borella fairly quickly in my opinion.
*OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Faria def Borella via submission round 2*
Beneil Dariush (14-3) vs. Evan Dunham (18-6)
ODDS: Dariush (-230), Dunham (+190)
The last man to beat both of these fighters is Edson Barbosa. Since then Dunham has put together a fairly impressive 4 fight win streak. In my opinion, Dunham’s best days are behind him as he will be turning 36 in a couple months. Dariush’s striking continues to get better and especially his ability to counter-strike with precision. Look for Dariush to be able to move in and out and counter, Dunham has a granite chin, so unless he catches him clean, I don’t think he gets him out of there. Dunham will have his moments, but I don’t think it will be enough.
*OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Dariush def Dunham via decision*