MMA Forethought: UFC 216
By Edward Carbajal
The lightweight division is at a standstill while the UFC waits on Conor McGregor to return. In the meantime, interim champion Tony Ferguson and number seven ranked Kevin Lee will keep things moving at UFC 216.
Also on tap is Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg for the flyweight title. Johnson looks to surpass Anderson Silva in title defenses with a win over Borg, who was unable to face Johnson when he fell ill just after weigh-ins at UFC 215.
With two championship bouts and a heavyweight fight on the card, UFC 216 has a lot of potential for future matchups and their respective divisions. As always, Frontproof Media will attempt to give some forethought on how the fights could turn out.
Tony Ferguson (22–3) vs. Kevin Lee (16–2)
A lot of tension has built up between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee. The trash talking will come to an end when these two will face each other for the UFC interim lightweight title. In his previous fight against former UFC lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos, Ferguson has shown that he can go the distance. He has beaten the very best in his division and is currently enjoying a 9-fight winning streak. Lee has the potential of becoming UFC’s next big thing with a win over Ferguson. The 25-year-old is a top prospect who is never afraid to back up his talk in the cage. Lee is also on a 5-fight winning streak as well. I see this main event going the distance either way. Pick: Kevin Lee -Joel Croichy
Demetrious Johnson (26–2–1) vs. Ray Borg (11–2)
Demetrious Johnson is aiming to make history this Saturday night. He has a chance of surpassing Anderson Silva’s record of being the UFC fighter with the most title defenses. Johnson is a well-rounded MMA fighter with many tools to choose from in his repertoire. In his previous bout with Wilson Reis, he shut him down and beat him at his own game. Johnson submitted Reis who has a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu via armbar in the very last second in round 3. His upcoming opponent, Ray Borg is young, talented and hungry. He has excellent conditioning and is always looking for openings to secure a submission victory. Johnson is the more experienced fighter and has already faced opponents like Borg, so I see him getting the win. Pick: Demetrious Johnson -Joel Croichy
Derrick Lewis (18–5-1) vs. Fabricio Werdum (21–7–1)
This heavyweight contest has what it takes to be an exciting one. It is a classic matchup between a brawler and jiu-jitsu specialist who are ranked in the top 10 in the UFC heavyweight division. Derrick Lewis, known for his brute strength is a dangerous opponent for any heavyweight competitor. In his previous bouts, he has shown excellent takedown defense, using knees while in the clinch and knockout power. Fabricio Werdum is a former UFC heavyweight champion. He has notable wins over top heavyweights such as Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem, Cain Velasquez and Mark Hunt among others. If the fight goes to the ground with Werdum, then you are in a world of trouble. I see Lewis getting the win via KO in round 2 only if he manages to defend Werdum’s takedowns and keep this bout standing up. Pick: Derrick Lewis -Joel Croichy
Mara Romero Borella (11-4) vs. Kalindra Faria (18-5-1)
These ladies are making their UFC debuts on a pay-per-view card with good reason. They are both on multiple fight win streaks and are coming from some of the best regional MMA promotions on UFC Fight Pass. Borella is fresh off her main event victory over Milana Dudieva last July at Invicta FC and Fara off unanimous decision win at Titan FC over Carina Damm. However, when comparing the records of these competitors Faria is a clear finisher with seven knockouts to her record. Three of Borella’s four losses are by knockout and Faria looks like the favorite here. Pick: Faria by KO or decision -Ed Carbajal
Beniel Dariush (14-3) vs. Evan Dunham (18-6)
This is a pretty fair match-up to kick off the pay-per-view portion of the event. Both men have a decent submission game and these lightweights have shown they put everything in their fights to work for a finish or be finished. The grappling pedigree of these lightweights may cancel each other out, although it is hard not to see Dariush as the one with the strength there. Dunham is riding a three-fight win streak though and his experience could be the factor here. Dunham could add another decision win to his record at UFC 216 if he can keep it standing. -Ed Carbajal
The results of the fights after UFC 216 will certainly make for great fights in the future. Especially if McGregor chooses to defend and unify the lightweight title in 2018. These last few months of 2017 should be very interesting in MMA.
Feature Image: Ed Carbajal/Frontproof Media