Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight elites Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee clashed last night (Oct. 7, 2017) at UFC 216 from inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Entering this bout on a nine-fight win streak, Ferguson was primed to take the stage and dominate. “El Cucuy” was deserving of a title shot, but considering the Lightweight hierarchy, an interim title would have to due.
Lee entered this bout as the No.7-ranked contender at Lightweight, which is a major accomplishment but doesn’t necessarily place him as a title contender yet. However, with much of the top half of the division busy or injured, the vacuum was there for Lee to step up, and he looked to make the most of his opportunity.
The fight opened with heavy exchanges, and both men landed. At one point, the two athletes hurt each other just moments apart. Nevertheless the two kept trading, at least until Lee switched it up with a big takedown.
Ferguson nearly rolled his foe over and was forced to settle for an omoplata attempt. Lee resisted and pass guard, doing a good job of controlling his opponent. With 30 seconds remaining, Lee moved into mount and did big damage.
It was a strong finish to the round from the underdog.
Heading into the second round, Lee looked a touch slower, while Ferguson was loosening up. Almost immediately, "El Cucuy" began to get the better of the exchanges, backing Lee up and flowing into combinations.
Despite the fact that the Lightweights shared a similar height and reach, Ferguson seemed longer. His jab bloodied up Lee's nose, and many of his kicks were doing damage as well. Additionally, Ferguson defended a pair of his opponent's takedowns.
It was tied up with 15 minutes remaining.
Lee scored a strong takedown to begin the round, but he failed to control his opponent. He managed to take him down again, but Lee was nearly armbarred for his trouble. From his back, Ferguson was relentless with elbows, slashing his opponent repeatedly and doing damage. Before long, he was able to slip an arm through for the triangle choke. This time, there was no escape, and Lee was eventually forced to submit as Ferguson squeezed on his throat.
This was an odd performance from an odd man. In the beginning, Ferguson and Lee traded fairly evenly on the feet, but Lee's powerful wrestling definitely threatened the new champion and did damage. Ferguson took control and found his rhythm in the second, but it seemed like he never turned it all the way up.
Ultimately, that didn't matter. Once Ferguson began to land consistently and do damage, Lee was desperate to wrestle. However, due to his fatigue, Lee couldn't keep up with Ferguson's offensive guard.
As for Lee, he may have lost, but his improvements are undeniable. He looked more than competent in a kickboxing match with a nasty striker, and his top game is brutally violent. Unfortunately, Lee could not keep up with his opponent's pace, which is ultimately what cost him the fight.
Ferguson's offense was constant, while Lee's defense was not.
Last night, Tony Ferguson captured the interim strap with a triangle choke. Will Ferguson face McGregor next?
For complete UFC 216 “Ferguson vs. Lee” results and play-by-play, click HERE!