The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to pay-per-view action with UFC 216 on Saturday night, live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Despite two titles being up for grabs on the night in the lightweight and flyweight division, the 216 card lacks a real big name to give the card some weight – especially considering how stacked the UFC 217 card is turning out to be.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of exciting fights for fans to sink their teeth into.
We preview and predict the main card below…
MAIN EVENT – UFC INTERIM LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Lightweight – Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson (22-3) vs Kevin ‘Motown Phenom’ Lee (16-2)Embed from Getty Images
Since winning the belt from Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, Conor McGregor is yet to defend the UFC lightweight championship, choosing instead to box Floyd Mayweather for a huge payday.
With a ‘money fight’ with Mayweather rumoured months ago and a division in limbo, the UFC booked an interim title clash at UFC 209 between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, the latter withdrawing from the bout.
With Nurmagomedov not yet in fighting shape, Kevin Lee challenges Ferguson instead for the interim lightweight title.
Ferguson is 15-1 in his last 16 fights, his sole loss in the UFC coming at the hands of Michael Johnson.
The Ultimate Fighter winner is currently riding a nine-fight win streak, the longest active streak in the lightweight division.
He beat Edson Barboza and Lando Vannata before taking a unanimous decision win over the former champion Rafael Dos Anjos to emerge as the number one contender at 155lbs.
On the other hand, Lee seems to be ‘Plan B’ for the UFC as Nurmagomedov is currently unavailable to fight.
However, ‘the Motown Phenom’ is riding a five-fight win streak in the third longest win streak in the division behind only Ferguson and Nurmagomedov.
Lee has a fantastic personality, of similar ilk to the Irish superstar, and does have quality in the cage.
Some online reviews offer rare option calling on bets, with Kevin Lee as a +180 underdog there is definitely some value for the ‘Motown Phenom’.
I feel Ferguson is just on another level and should take home a decision win to set up a clash with McGregor.
PREDICTION: Ferguson via decision
CO-MAIN EVENT – UFC FLYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Flyweight – Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson © (26-2) vs. Ray ‘The Taxmexican Devil’ Borg (11-2)Embed from Getty Images
Originally scheduled for UFC 215, Demetrious Johnson will finally defend his flyweight title against Ray Borg at UFC 216.
After weeks of speculation, the fight was announced despite calls for Johnson to fight TJ Dillashaw due to a lack of true talent at flyweight.
However, Borg was announced as the next man to take a crack at the flyweight king only for illness to keep him out the bout.
If ‘Mighty Mouse’ beats Borg, he will break Anderson Silva’s UFC title defence record and make a case to be the pound-for-pound best ever to enter the UFC octagon.
Since winning the title, Johnson has beaten every challenger put in front of him, and fans expect Borg to face a similar fate.
However, ‘the Tazmexican Devil’ has developed into a contender at 125lbs despite his troubles in making weight.
It is the challenge of a lifetime for Borg who poses an interesting challenge for the only UFC flyweight champion ever.
Borg has talent, but Johnson is the pound-for-pound king in my opinion and will have far too much for his opponent.
I think DJ will stop Borg and go on to challenge the winner of Cody Garbrant x Dillashaw for the bantamweight title.
PREDICTION: Johnson via knockout
REST OF MAIN CARD
Heavyweight – Fabricio ‘Val Cavalo’ Werdum (21-7) vs Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis (18-5)Embed from Getty Images
Two men coming off a loss and looking for a route back into the title picture are Fabricio Werdum and Derrick Lewis.
Werdum has endured a tough few year so far – losing his one fight in 2017 to Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 via a majority decision.
At 40-years-old, the Brazilian is the oldest fighter to feature on the card and time is running out to get another crack at Stipe Miocic’s heavyweight title.
Another defeat could put him out of contention and left in limbo having held the belt but holding losses against the top contenders in the division.
Lewis is one of the most feared heavyweights in the division and was on a tear before being knocked out by Mark Hunt and subsequently announcing his retirement from the sport.
A win against Werdum and Lewis shoots right back into the title picture – a victory over the former champion would no doubt boost him in the power rankings.
Werdum has looked a shadow of his former self since being knocked out by Miocic and Lewis has a point to prove following his disappointing performance last time in the cage.
If he can avoid being taken down, I’m backing Lewis to outstrike Werdum to take home a decision win.
PREDICTION: Lewis via decision
Lightweight – Beneil Dariush (14-3) vs Evan Dunham (18-6)Embed from Getty Images
Lightweight veterans Beneil Dariush and Evan Dunham will do battle inside the octagon to kick off the main card of pay-per-view action.
Dariush has always looked like a top contender at lightweight but has come unstuck against the elite in the division.
He picked up wins against James Vick and Rashid Magomedov but has lost two of his last four including a submission loss to Michael Chiesa.
His last loss came against Barboza at UFC Fight Night 106 where he lost via a vicious flying knee to add to the Brazilian’s highlight reel of knockouts.
Dunham’s last loss also came at the hands of Barboza after losing to Dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone.
However, since losing three on the spin, he is currently riding a four-fight win streak against Rodrigo Damm, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon and Rick Glenn – all coming via unanimous decision.
Both fighters are in desperate need of a win to earn a top ten opponent in their next fight, and this bout should be a real scrap.
It’s a tough fight to call, but I think Dariush will take home a decision win.
PREDICTION: Dariush via decision
Where will you be watching UFC 216? Let us know in the comments below!