UFC 216: Ferguson vs Lee Main Card Preview and Predictions

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Main Event 

Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee

Odds: Ferguson -182 or 5/11, Lee +130 or 9/5

The UFC lightweight division has been in a state of unrest since Conor McGregor became champion, it’s almost a year since McGregor defeated Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205 and he has yet to make a defence of his title. Within the division, there are so many talented fighters you could argue that the lightweight division is the strongest of all in the UFC.

Ranked number one behind the champion is Khabib Nurmagomedov who’s had no issues with opponents inside the octagon winning 8 fights on the trot in comfortable fashion. Ranked number two after Khabib is Tony Ferguson who is also on a roll riding a 9 fight win streak. A meeting between those two has been in high demand for years which is why it has been scheduled to take place on three separate occasions, injuries and health troubles have kept Khabib from making it to the Octagon every time. The UFC is moving on with Ferguson vs Lee for the interim lightweight championship, which promises the winner a future title fight.

Tony Ferguson earned his place in the UFC by winning The Ultimate Fighter 13, defeating Ramsey Nijem in the final of the competition back in 2011. Ferguson was clearly talented but still a raw fighter at the time, in the seven years since winning TUF 13 he’s steadily improved and matured as a fighter. Well-known for his conditioning and durability Ferguson brings an awkward style which is a nightmare to prepare for.

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Ferguson’s previous fight was against former champion Rafael Dos Anjos, the fight served as concrete proof that Ferguson is indeed a championship calibre fighter.

Kevin Lee’s road to this interim title fight hasn’t been as difficult but he has made it here nonetheless. The brazen wrestler from Grand Rapids, Michigan who’s nicknamed “The Motown Phenom” has used the microphone to propel himself into this position.

Lee’s last victory was against Micheal Chiesa, the only fighter Lee has fought who is currently ranked inside the top ten. Chiesa was considered the more accomplished grappler and many expected him to have the advantage should the fight hit the mat, however, Kevin Lee was able to secure a submission victory.

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I would have liked to see Lee take on a few other top-tier lightweights before fighting Tony Ferguson just to get a little more experience under his belt, on the other hand, UFC debutant and fellow UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje showed earlier this year that experience can sometimes be superseded by ability.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Odds: Johnson -667 or 1/12, Borg +445 or 7/1

With Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson one win away from setting a new record for UFC title defences, there’s been a growing argument that Johnson is the greatest fighter of all time. Not taking anything away from Johnsons’ reign, I feel as if the quality of opponents should have more priority over the number of defences made. Demetrious Johnson’s record doesn’t have the same prestige that Anderson Silva, George St-Pierre, or Jon Jones can boast, so for me, that label is premature.

The G.O.A.T (greatest of all time) label takes into account a fighters ability, achievements, influence, and popularity whereas being the best fighter of all time is based purely on ability.

Demetrious Johnson is the most complete fighter I’ve ever seen, St-Pierre was the prototype he could hang with fighters in their strongest areas and had no clear weaknesses. Jon Jones expanded on that by being just as well rounded but rather than competing with specialists in their area of expertise he dominated guys in their strong areas. Johnson does all of that, the difference is the fluidity with which he’s performing techniques, to those who see MMA as a brutal sport Mighty Mouse is the perfect example of why it’s considered an art form.

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The only man that stands between Johnson and the record is Ray Borg. Borg who fell ill the week of UFC 215 when these two were originally set to meet has been plagued by weight cutting controversies over the past few years. The UFC 215 withdrawal is the third time Borg has either missed weight or been pulled from a fight.

His first challenge this weekend is conquering the scales as championship fights have no 1lb leeway which is permitted for non-title fights, he must make 125lbs in order for the title to be on the line. After failing to make weight in two of his last four fights hitting 125lbs in a healthy fashion a month removed from falling ill on fight week may be unlikely.

If Borg does weigh in, he then faces a colossal task disguised in a man of small stature, the 5 foot 3 figure of Demtrious Johnson may not look intimidating but make no mistake there isn’t a harder task in MMA today than trying to defeat the flyweight king over 5 rounds.

Predictions 

Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee (Ferguson)

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg (Johnson)

Fabricio Werdum vs Derrick Lewis (Werdum)

Beneil Dariush vs Evan Dunham (Dariush)

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