Saturday night, in Las Vegas, October 7, UFC 216 is going down with a doubleheader title fights. Learn more info on UFC 216 here.
Lightweight Interim Championship
Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson vs. Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee
Tony is a bad dude only losing to Michael Johnson in the UFC. His UFC record is 12-1 with ⅔ of the wins coming via a finish.
Kevin on the other hand has a UFC record of 9-2 with 55% of the wins coming via a finish. I was riding high on the hype around this kid leading up to my research on this fight and then I rewatched several of his last wins. His jab is very good along with his boxing acumen, has shown more than a shadow of a doubt to be an expert at getting/finishing on the back and super well-rounded. While I am sure at the age of 25, he is still growing tons, I see lots of holes in his game. Like, he has shown to be very hittable while being pressured on the feet. This is a very big step up in competition for Lee. Choking out Chiesa is a very good win, but a large gap in skill set to El Cucuy.
Watching Tony batter RDS for 5 rounds in his last fight was nothing short of impressive. While he has shown to be hittable, Ferguson is best once he gets his creative onslaught of offense going on the feet. Tony was toying with Dos Anjos (who is now a top 10 welterweight in the UFC) in the “championship” rounds of that fight. Then El Cucuy is relentless in the scrambles if things start going to the grown and are known for slapping on slick darce chokes on his opponents. With his long arms, it is a perfect way for him to defend single legs. Fun to note, Lee likes to single leg off the cage.
I can see how Kevin Lee wins this fight, it just doesn’t seem as likely of an outcome. Perhaps Lee’s fundamentally sound boxing and jab can shut down the offense of Ferguson for 5 rounds. Maybe he gets the RNC is a grappling exchange. Ultimately, I see Tony hitting Kevin at all levels keeping him guessing and wearing Lee down. In the later rounds, Lee is going to shoot for a bad takedown and get choked out.
Prediction: Tony by submission in the fourth
Demetrious “Mighty” Johnson (c) vs. Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg
This fight was supposed to go down at UFC 215, but Borg got sick last second most likely due to a poor weight cut. He has fired that nutritionist and the fight got immediately rebooked. Instead of fighting TJ Dillashaw for an epic fight people would really care about, Demetrious Johnson gets that fight against who he believes is the true flyweight contender. Power to him as this will be a record-breaking title defense if he is to win.
Hopefully, Ray Borg has his diet in check as he has missed weight twice in his last four fights. The pattern would indicate he might not make the stricter 125-pound weight limit. In nontitle fights, fighters get a pound of leeway but not the case for a championship fight like this. That aside, he a very good fighter everywhere this goes. Ray can set a very high pace with really good movement to get in land punches. Good wrestling and what not. I am having a hard time forgetting his loss to Justin Scoggins just over a year ago. That was a three round beating though.
This is probably going to go down like most other recent Might Mouse fights, a couple possible moments in the first round or two while he adjusts to his opponent and finds the opening.
Prediction: Mighty Mouse by finish in the 4th or 5th round
Fabrício “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs. Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis
Both fighters are coming off losses to top 5 opponents and will need a win here to stay relevant in the hunt for a title. The big question is, where is Derrick’s head at after retiring in the cage after his last fight? His motivation for this fight is a huge factor for me going into this one. The Black Beast will need all of his cardio to keep this fight on the feet and try to finish the former UFC heavyweight champ.
As much as I love Derrick, hard for me to put confidence in his ability for this big fight. Most likely, Werdum will get the body clinch and get this fight to the ground where he will wrap up a submission.
Prediction: Werdum by submission in the second or third round
Paige “12 Gauge” VanZant vs. Jessica “Evil” Eye
A very pivotal fight in the newly minted female flyweight division. Both are UFC veterans moving to the new division to try to reinvent themselves after losing to a few of the best in their previous divisions.They are both moving to a weight class that seems better suited for them.
VanZant was killing herself making the 115 strawweight division and the move up should help her keep the brutal pace she likes to keep. Training at Team Alpha Male, she is super well-rounded and tough as hell. She tends to swarm her opponents in the clinch and ground to get the finish. She has shown growth with her outside striking in her fight with Bec Rawlings with a beautiful jumping switch kick KO.
Jessica Eye always seemed a little small for the Amanda Nunes’ of the 135 lbs division. Coming off a 4 fight losing skid, she really needs this win to stay relevant and perhaps her job. Eye has terrific boxing and solid takedown defense which makes this a tough matchup for her. Paige should have the kicking advantage and can use that to clinch up and start overwhelming Jessica. Seeing Bethe Correia smother Jessica for 3 rounds doesn’t give me a ton of confidence Eye has much left in the tank at 31 years old and 18 fights.
Prediction: VanZant by decision
Walt “The Big Ticket” Harris vs. Mark “The Hand of” Godbeer
Walt is still a little raw but has shown huge improvements since his split decision loss to Shamil Abdurakhimov at the end of 2016. He has finished two opponents this year in 9 minutes and 25 seconds.
Mark has one of the best nicknames in the game right now! That might be it thou . . . He is the former BAMMA heavyweight champion. To me, this fight feels like another tune-up fight for Walt Harris to get another win under the belt.
Prediction: Harris by TKO in the 2nd round
Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
Evan is a very good fighter but has a knack for losing to the elite lightweights in the UFC. Similar can be said to Beneil but he has a couple of elite performances. All of that aside, styles make fights.
Dunham is more of a dynamic wrestler/grinder while Dariush is an elite BJJ grappler with some nasty kickboxing. Especially his legs kicks! I see Beneil keeping the distance with the kicks and being able to control the grappling exchanges to win 2 out of the 3 rounds.
Prediction: Dariush by decision