UFC 216 Main/Co-Main Preview

UFC 216 will not be breaking any records (at least in terms of viewership) but one fighter will be looking to make history on Saturday night. Demetrious Johnson, the current and only Flyweight Champion of the World will look to defend his title for an unprecedented 11th time when he faces Jackson/Wink product Ray Borg.

Aside from his natural talent and technical prowess the most impressive thing about “Mighty Mouse” is his consistency. Johnson is currently on a 12-fight winning streak a feat impressive in its own right but even more so when you consider his competition. For five years now Johnson has fought only the best of the best his
division has had to offer.

On 12 separate occasions Johnson has had to face the #1 or #2 Flyweight in the world. He has undoubtedly been sick, injured, and had a myriad of distractions during most if not all of those fights. Yet, time and again he has put on exemplary performances that have made him appear head and shoulders above his peers. The AMC Kickboxing and Pancration fighter has on numerous occasions explained how he views each approaching fight as occurring in a vacuum. However, with a record looming on the horizon he has not held back on expounding upon the significance of this fight.

In one sense that is to be expected. The Washington native naturally wants to hype
up this fight as much as possible and a big selling point is clearly its record-breaking
potentiality.

One has to wonder though if giving voice to the historic nature of the fight might be pushing Johnson into unfamiliar territory. Is it possible that he will get carried away in the moment and lose focus? Could even a minor slip cause him the record, his belt, and his ability to be honestly compensated? Although Borg is, on paper, the worst opponent he has yet to face, doesn’t that compound the likelihood of lapse in pedigree?

DJ is not the only athlete putting a ridiculous win-streak on the line on Saturday night. In the main-event, Tony Ferguson will attempt to extend his streak to 10 and add an Interim-Belt to his mantle. Since his decision loss to Michael Johnson, “El Cucuy” has mirrored the exampled of Johnson, displaying a level of consistency necessary for success at the Championship level.

The California native has shown himself to be incredibly mentally tough with a come from behind win (over Lando Vannata) and a dominating victory over Former Champion Rafael Dos Anjos in a grueling five-round affair (in Mexico City). Unlike Johnson’s counterpart at UFC 216, Ferguson’s dance partner is of decidedly higher esteem – as evinced by the betting odds. Kevin Lee brings a five-fight win streak into Saturday night’s contest and although he only holds one win over a top-ranked opponent he poses serious problems to anyone at 155 lbs.

At just 25 years of age, Lee has the ability to make massive leaps in between fights –
in comparison to the relatively limited capabilities of older fighters. As a yet incomplete fighter, Lee can, in very short windows, add or improve on significant aspects of his game. We have seen how effective his back control is (he has won his last four fights by using it) but that skill has likely hid his other improvements.

“The Mo-Town Phenom” has repeatedly spoken of his improved stand up game but because he has such vicious back control, that aspect of his character has not been showcased. Ferguson has had trouble with good strikers in the past, most notably Vannata (who is similar in build and explosiveness to Lee) and it is entirely possibly that we see the Detroit native put on a striking clinic – even though we only know of him as a powerful wrestler with a good RNC.

UFC 216 is not a flashy card. Casual fans don’t care about it and hardcore fans are butthurt about DJ not fighting Dillashaw and annoyed with the cringey trash talk between the main eventers.

Nevertheless, the main and co-main events are extremely intriguing both on their own merits and for their likely implications. “Mighty Mouse” might just secure his claim to MMA supremacy while the winner of Ferguson/Lee could cash-in on night filled with a certain coloured undergarment.

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