UFC 216 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got all our predictions for the fights below.
Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
It’s still a little jarring that it’s Kevin Lee rather than Khabib Nurmagomedov who is fighting Tony Ferguson for the interim 155lb title tomorrow night, but it’s still a great match-up to headline UFC 216.
Both men have a well-rounded skill-set that should ensure competitive action wherever the fight goes. That being said, on the feet Ferguson does have the edge thanks to his excellent combinations and angles, together with an unpredictable flow and unrelenting offensive pressure that can at times lead to defensive gaps, but nonetheless has a tendency to overwhelm his opponents, who struggle to match his pace and output.
Lee is no slouch on the feet and has an abnormally long reach (77″) for a 5ft 9″ lightweight, but he’s not wielding the same offensive firepower as his opponent. However, he does have a very strong ground game and his wrestling could pose problems for Ferguson, who is not immune to being taken down.
Ferguson poses a dangerous submission threat though and has been working hard on his all-round BJJ skills with Eddie Bravo during the past year since his last fight, so he’ll be well prepared whether he’s on top or on his back.
Overall this is shaping up to be a close fight, but I think Ferguson has more experience at this level, has more ways to win and his frentic pace and creativity will produce openings both on the feet and on the mat, leading to a submisison stoppage in the third round.
Tony Ferguson to win by submission in Rd3.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg
Johnson has the chance to claim the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history (11), and really there’s no good reason to believe that he won’t do so on Saturday night.
If he had been fighting TJ Dillashaw, as had once been targeted by Dana White, then there would be real food for thought here, but with Johnson having already defeated a who’s who at flyweight, Borg was one of the few remaining credible options left.
The problem for all of ‘Mighty’s’ opponents is that he has no obvious weaknesses, both technically and athletically. Borg’s best chance may be by catching hold of a submission, but given that Johnson effortlessly tapped out high-level BJJ expert Wilson Reis last time out, that doesn’t seem likely.
Really this is a fight where Johnson holds all the aces, and I think he will be comfortable enough in this match-up that he’ll be looking for a finish to seal a milestone moment in his career, and will find it in the third round via a submission.
Demetrious Johnson to win by submission in Rd3.
Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis
There’s absolutely no doubt that Lewis holds the power advantage in this fight, with his fists capable of finishing anybody in the blink of an eye.
That aside though, it would appear that Werdum is the much better all-round fighter in this heavyweight match-up.
Werdum’s striking game has developed well over the years, but it’s still his ground game where he excels the most, and against a heavy-handed slugger like Lewis you have to think he’ll be eager to showcase those skills on Saturday night, leading to a swift submission stoppage.
Fabricio Werdum to win by submission In Rd1
Mara Romero Borella vs. Kalindra Faria
Two debuting women’s flyweights get shoe-horned into the PPV portion of the card here, with Borella stepping in on just a few days notice to fill in for Andrea ‘KGB’ Lee.
Both are seasoned fighters who have fought at a high-level before, but I do favor Faria to get the win here, having had more time to prepare as well as being the better fighter on the mat, potentially leading to a late stoppage or win on the scorecards.
Kalindra Faria to win by decision.
Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
Two respected lightweight veterans clash in the main card opener, with Dunham riding a wave of momentum thanks to a four-fight winning streak, while by contrast Dariush is coming off a KO loss.
Despite the differences in their recent records, this is a well-matched fight between two men with similar skill-sets, but I do think Dariush has a slight edge overall and will be able to impose his pressure game more than Dunham to edge out a decision victory here.
Beneil Dariush to win by decision.
Prelims: (predicted winners in bold)
Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann
Will Brooks vs. Nik Lentz
Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green
Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez
UFC Fight Pass:
Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer
Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell