Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the hurt business tonight (Sat., Oct. 7, 2017) for UFC 216, which is set to go down inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The pay-per-view (PPV) event will feature an interim Lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee. In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson will look to make history when he defends his Flyweight title against Ray Borg.
Since Conor McGregor has been too busy trying to dominate the boxing world, UFC had no other choice but to book an interim Lightweight title fight between Ferguson and Lee. While some people aren’t too thrilled with the matchmaking, it’s a pretty good fight. Both men have been doing work in the 155-pound weight class, taking out opponents left and right until they were the last two men standing.
Now, not only will the winner win himself a shiny new belt, he will also likely set himself up for a big money — a title unification fight against “Notorious.” Still, we almost didn’t have the interim title fight, as Lee had trouble making weight, but ultimately hit his mark on his second attempt.
Demetrious Johnson is on the cusp of standing alone in uncharted territory, as he is currently tied with former Middleweight champion Anderson Silva with 10 straight title defenses. Borg, though, is a formidable foe, and is more than capable of derailing “Mighty Mouse’s” goals. But, if Johnson can make history, we can very well see the 125-pound bulldozer move up to Bantamweight to collect bigger paychecks against bigger men.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Able Trujillo and Lando Vannata were set to throw down at the event, but Trujillo was bounced from the event with an injury and replaced by Bobby Green. An intriguing women’s Flyweight bout between Paige VanZant and Jessica Eye was scrapped after “12 Gauge” suffered multiple injuries.
Andrea Lee’s Octagon debut was postponed once again after USADA revealed she hadn’t gone through the six-month testing window, allowing newcomer Mara Romero Borella to step in and face Kalindra Faria.
VanZant and Trujillo were the two combatants who were struck down with an injury. However, on the day of weigh-ins, Nik Lentz was forced out of his fight against Will Brooks after it was revealed he was having weight-cutting issues. Derrick Lewis sustained literally an eleventh-hour injury and was also forced off the card (details).
Borella got the opportunity of a lifetime to step in and face Faria on short notice after Lee was yanked from the event. Mara is on a five-fight win streak, including her lone fight under the Invicta FC banner. As for Faria, this will also be her first fight inside the eight-walled cage after winning three in a row on the regional circuit. Poliana Botelho will also be making her UFC debut when she faces off against Pearl Gonzalez.
How The “Prelims” Look:
The “Prelims” undercard matches are pretty good, to be honest. Former Bellator MMA champion Will Brooks was looking to end his losing streak when he was set to face the always-game Nik Lentz, but the cancellation of the bout prevented him from doing so. Fan-favorite Lando Vannata will look to get back on the winning track when he takes on Bobby Green -- who has lost three straight — in what is sure-to-be a thrilling 155-pound scrap.
Also, former title contender John Moraga will look to get his groove back and win two in a row when he faces off against undefeated prospect (13-0, 1-0 UFC) Magomed Bibulatov. Plus Thales Leites and Brad Tavares will collide in a hard-hitting Middleweight bout. Indeed, the opening acts are worth the price of admission.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
It’s been a rough two years for Bobby Green, as the former Strikeforce contender hasn’t tasted victory since 2014, losing three straight to Rashid Magomedov, Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. Trying to snap out of his funk will be a tough task, as he will be facing Lando Vannata, who is known for bringing the fight night in, night out. Should “King” drop his fourth straight, there’s no telling if he’ll hang on to his spot on the roster.
Interest Level: 7/10
This is a pretty good card with two title fights that could provide fireworks and history-making performances. Plus, the result of the main event could have a major impact as to how early McGregor returns to action ... and against who.
“Mighty Mouse,” meanwhile, is on the cusp on doing what no other MMA fighter before him has done, as winning 11 straight UFC title fights will set him apart from everyone. Plus, it could also single the start of his run at Bantamweight.
Of course, we can’t forget about the hard-hitting Heavyweight bout that will see Derrick Lewis attempt to get back in the win column when he faces off against former division champion Fabricio Werdum. A win for Werdum puts him back in the win column after dropping two of three. And in the 265-pound weight class, any big man is just one impressive win away from a title shot.
A sleeper bout is one that pits Evan Dunham -- who has won four straight -- against Beneil Dariush in the opening fight of the PPV portion of the event. Both men bring it, and don’t be surprised if someone goes to sleep. There is a lot of potential with this card; whether or not it will do gangbusters at the box office is another story.
Full UFC 216 Fight Card:
UFC 216 PPV Main Event:
155 lbs.: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee for interim lightweight title
UFC 216 PPV Co-Main Event:
125 lbs.: UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg
UFC 216 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Derrick Lewis vs. Fabricio Werdum
265 lbs.: Fabricio Werdum vs. Walt Harris
135 lbs.: Mara Romero Borella vs. Kalindra Faria
155 lbs.: Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham
UFC 216 Prelims On FX (8 p.m. ET):
135 lbs.: Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann
155 lbs.: W ill Brooks vs. Nik LentzCancelled (FULL STORY HERE)
155 lbs.: Bobby Green vs. Lando Vannata
115 lbs.: Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez
UFC 216 Prelims On Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Mark Godbeer vs. Walt Harris
125 lbs.: Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga
185 lbs.: Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
125 lbs.: Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell
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