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UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee staff picks and predictions

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Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for Saturday’s UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee pay-per-view fight card in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The BE team has made its predictions for Saturday’s UFC 216 PPV in Las Vegas, Nevada. Only Eddie Mercado is picking Kevin Lee (who looked quite bad at today’s weigh-ins) to win the interim lightweight title vs. Tony Ferguson. Everyone agrees that Demetrious Johnson will beat Ray Borg, thus breaking Anderson Silva’s record for most title defenses in UFC history.

Note: Predictions are entered throughout the week and collected the day before the event. Explanations behind each pick are not required and some writers opt not to do so for their own reasons. For example, if Phil Mackenzie entered all of his predictions on Wednesday without adding in any explanations, he has no idea if he's going to be the only one siding with one fighter for any given fight.

Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

Anton Tabuena: This is yet another fight that my head and heart don’t agree with each other. The logical pick is Tony Ferguson as he has success over better caliber of opposition and seems to have the much better and more diverse striking game. Lee can really grapple, and has a decent chance of catching something in a scramble, but unless Ferguson — who is also a talented and tricky submission artist — willingly engages him there, it seems like a tougher route to victory. I’m rooting for Lee, but I think Ferguson is more likely to take this. Tony Ferguson by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: I don’t think Lee can handle Ferguson’s pace and array of volume striking, plus Lee’s boxing is still uncomfortably wooden. I’m also of the belief that The Motown Phenom will find it difficult to take El Cucuy down. Where Lee may have success is in the scrambles, where I feel Ferguson is willing to engage with him on the mat. Expect plenty of choke attempts (Ferguson d’arce, anyone?) from both men if we get fun grappling exchanges. Apart from that, Ferguson is the more complete fighter, and I’m sold on him after the way he beat Rafael dos Anjos. Lee is still a very talented guy who’s on the rise, but I don’t think he’s ready for the absolute elite of 155. Tony Ferguson by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: Ferguson may be the best broken rhythm striker in MMA right now. If not, he’s certainly at the top of a very short list. He’s amazingly hard to predict, combining his awkward timing with a wide variety of creative striking tools. Over the years, he’s also learned how to be reasonably effective at managing range and defense. All of which makes him a hard fighter to breakdown standing, especially if you get caught up trying to figure out what he’s doing. Lee on the other hand, tends to work at a very predictable pace and speed. If this fight stays standing it’s hard to see Lee having much shot. If it goes to the ground, Lee’s fantastic lockdown positional grappling and heavy GnP could create huge problems for Ferguson. But it’s hard to see Lee accomplishing what RDA couldn’t. Tony Ferguson by TKO, Round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Kevin Lee is a sensational up-and-comer that has become a proven product, but not a finished one. I’m not sure how he’s going to deal with the handspeed, range and pace that Ferguson brings to the table. Not only that,I’m not convinced that he won’t be baited into any choke Ferguson decides to apply from the front headlock position once the fight explodes into strikes and scrambles. Lee’s got sharp boxing and great discipline as a fighter, and may not be flustered by Ferguson’s unorthodox movement. His wrestling is excellent, but may leave him susceptible to eating a knee on the way in and getting slept. Despite being the more dynamic athlete of the two, gotta go with the wily veteran. We’re gonna get an instant classic no matter what, so don’t blink. Ugly Tony by submission.

Eddie Mercado: I met T Ferg at the UFC 178 weigh ins, and he hasn’t lost since. I met Kevin Lee before his UFC Fight Night 99 match with Magomed Mustafaev, and he hasn’t lost since. Clearly, I am some sort of good luck charm here. Someone’s winning streak will have to come to an end though, unless it’s a draw, in which case I’m definitely a good luck charm and will have to leave MMA and use my powers for bigger things. On a serious note, Ferg is a dangerous mofo, both with his Jambalaya of striking techniques, and his long limbed submission skills. If you have to point to a weakness with Ferg, then you have to talk about his creativity/weirdness/funk that get’s him in trouble on the feet, and his past tendency to hang out on his back, throwing strikes from the bottom. Kevin Lee’s grappling game is serious! Lee’s standup? Not quite there yet, but I believe Ferg will present an opportunity, or do something funky that brings the fight to the ground, where Lee will find success. The 2 largest flaws with Ferg’s game are exactly what Lee needs in order to walk down his path of victory. I know that Lee has not been 5 rounds. I know that Ferg is the more proven striker. Still, I’m picking the basic fundamentals of Lee over the unignorable funk of Ferguson. What? You think I’m biased because I’ve done a bunch of interviews with Lee? Psh, if you think that then you should go check out my UFC 216 interview with Kevin Lee! Kevin Lee by Submission (RNC) in round 2.

Staff picking Ferguson: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Phil, Zane, Ram, Tim, Victor, Ryan, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Lee: Eddie

Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg

Anton Tabuena: I picked DJ on the original card, and I’m picking him again now. With what each guy has shown in the Octagon, here’s just not enough reason for me to believe that Borg will be the one to stop the best pound-for-pound fighter from breaking Silva’s record. Demetrious Johnson by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: I was going to pick Demetrious Johnson to win at UFC 215, so there’s practically nothing to convince me in this whopping one month delay that things will be different tomorrow. All I’ve got is that Borg is a genuinely top-level contender and that if Johnson is ever going to lose his title, it’ll involve him getting caught in a submission off of a scramble. That’s about it, and Borg might be capable of it. Johnson has a billion paths to victory, whereas Borg… does not. Demetrious Johnson by submission, round 3.

Fraser Coffeen: In the lead-up to the original fight between these two, I have to admit, I was flirting with picking Borg. Joe Rogan likes to say that Mighty Mouse is a perfect fighter with no flaws - but that’s just not true. He’s a great fighter - my pick for greatest active fighter on the planet. But he does have a small hole in his wrestling game. It was exploited mainly at Bantamweight, but at Flyweight he also ran into some troubles with the wrestling of Ian McCall and the unconventional wrestling/grappling of Tim Elliott. Borg is not a great all around challenger, but he does happen to excel in the one area where Johnson does not look like the GOAT. That said, I don’t like how Borg has responded to that cancellation at all. Lashing out at the media, refusing to get a nutritionist - it all points to someone a bit off his mental game heading into fight night, and I’m not going to pick anyone against Johnson who is not at his absolute peak in every way. Demetrious Johnson, Submission R4

Ram Gilboa: If anyone can beat Demetrious Johnson, it’s not Ray Borg. I really like Borg’s style of sticky kind of grappling and gutsy kind of punching, but right now mma god is a DJ. Demetrious Johnson by TKO, round 3.

Zane Simon: I’m really fascinated to see how Johnson handles Borg’s speed, because I have the feeling that Borg really is faster. My guess is that he turns this into a clinch battle after a round or so and starts dismantling Borg in tight. The big thing for Borg is that his game, to date, just hasn’t been technically deep enough. His striking, as blazing fast as it is, is too easy to read, and his clinch offense is largely absent. Without that, I don’t think he can depend on out-grappling DJ. But, if he goes out and tries to put it on DJ early, it could be an entertaining contest. Eventually, I’ll take DJ by TKO in round 4.

Victor Rodriguez: I can’t shake the feeling that we’re getting a real treat here as well. Borg is being heavily underestimated here - and that’s not to say that he’ll win, but he should put up a far better fight than many expect. He’s fast, a capable wrestler, and getting better at having a more complete MMA game. Anyone picking him to lose isn’t doing so out of disrespect to Borg, it’s just that Demetrious is that damn good. While I trust Jackson/Winklejohn to come up with interesting approaches to the many threats Johnson poses, this should end with Borg getting a respectable performance in an invitable loss. Demetrious Johnson by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Johnson: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Phil, Zane, Ram, Tim, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Borg:

Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis

Anton Tabuena: Rooting for Lewis, and this is heavyweight so he has a decent chance, but Werdum is just way more technical everywhere. Fabricio Werdum by Submission.

Mookie Alexander: I’d love for Derrick Lewis to win this on the basis of him being an awesome dude, but Werdum is a horrible matchup for him. Sure, Werdum could fight like a total asshole and find a way to get himself KO’d hilariously, but it’s far more likely that Werdum pieces up Lewis on the feet and/or takes him down with ease, passes to full mount, and that’s a wrap. Again, I’d like for a different outcome, but as much as I love Lewis, he’s a good fighter without being an actual good mixed martial artist. Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 2.

Tim Bissell: I believe the man most likely to win this fight is the individual who has extremely close ties to a warlord turned quasi-dictator who has been systematically threatening, alienating, abusing, tormenting, and reportedly killing LGBTQ+ individuals in the Republic of Chechnya. Werdum by submission (Round 3).

Phil Mackenzie: If there's a time for Lewis to be good at MMA, it's now, because Werdum is the best fighter he's fought. Lewis hasn't developed much technically, with his improvements largely centered around his comfort in the cage and general fitness, while he remains a total defensive void. Werdum has been visibly weird and insecure both in and out of the cage lately, so there are some questions to be answered: can Lewis just bench-press Werdum off him if it goes to the ground like he has everyone else? Does Werdum get freaked out by Lewis' sheer physical strength as he was against Overeem? He should win this fight everywhere, but I'm not sure how much I trust him at the moment. Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 2.

Fraser Coffeen: I try not to mix politics with analysis, but Werdum makes it tough for me. There’s really no reason for Werdum to lose this. He’s light years better on the mat, he’s still sometimes underrated on the feet, and in case that’s not enough, Lewis hasn’t been able to give his 100% to his training camp. Because he was rescuing trapped people in a hurricane. Just to be clear. So yeah, Werdum is the obvious pick. But I’m not picking him. War Black Beast! Derrick Lewis, KO R1

Ram Gilboa: Provided Werdum’s gameplan doesn’t involve sprinting forward hands down, Fabricio Werdum by submission, round 2

Zane Simon: Werdum’s chin isn’t quite what it used to be, but it’s still strong enough to take a lot of shots from Overeem without him getting KO’d. It’s a similar position that Hunt was in, and a puzzle that Lewis doesn’t seem particularly prepared to solve. He could always catch Werdum with a huge shot to end it, which is why I’ll be watching on the edge of my seat. But if he doesn’t, his low output, and counter-punch deficient style seems made for Werdum to weather any storms on his way to a takedown and a submission. Especially given how many poorly set-up kicks Lewis likes to throw. Werdum via Submission, Round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Derrick Lewis has gotten so much better and so far from being the brawler/boxer he was on the regional scene. He may be a bit footslow, but he makes up for it with great combinations and counters, as well as tremendous power. Werdum has more weapons and can mix things up enough to bring about cumulative damage to make Lewis’ body quit, then jump on a submission. Problem is, I’m not sure which Werdum shows up. Is it the guy that superstyled on Travis Browne in their first go-round? The guy that got too hype and ran at Miocic face-first? The guy that nailed Mark Hunt with a flying knee? Maybe the dude that looked inefficient and mostly gunshy against Overeem in his last loss? I’m gonna go with Werdum here, but it could all easily get blown to nothing if he’s not on point here. Fabricio Werdum by submission, round 3.

Eddie Mercado: I’m with Fraser on this one. Derrick Lewis, KO R1

Staff picking Werdum: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Zane, Tim, Ryan, Victor, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Lewis: Fraser, Eddie

Kalindra Faria vs. Mara Romero Borella

Zane Simon: This is... not a great fight, and has a chance to really play out poorly in the cage. Borella tends to want to assert her physicality, mostly because the technical side of her game isn’t all that well developed. And when she’s not doing that, she’s often not doing a lot. Faria tends to fight in swarming bursts. She can hit some nice trips, and has aggression and some skill everywhere, but she can also check out for long stretches at range. If Borella backs herself up and Faria doesn’t commit this could be a 15-min staring match. Still, as the more experienced, technical fighter I’ll take Faria to edge it. Kalindra Faria by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I’m not glum about this at all. Borella is a functional kickboxer with an OK clinch game, but Faria is a better striker and has a more developed ground game. Both have fights where they come forward a lot, and this could be one of them. Yes, it’s wishful thinking. But it’s totally likely that we end up with two competitors trying to outwork each other in an informal kickboxing match inside a cage. Gotta give the edge to the veteran. Kalindra Faria by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: After I watched Lil' Nog-Rashad last week, watching Borella felt ominously familiar. Back up, back up, pawing rangefinder, back up, back up, paw, paw... right hand!... back up, back up, paw, back up etc. Faria is a weird fighter who throws sneaky lead hooks from both stances and follows up with short combinations or trip takedowns. She just throws a lot more, and is defensively responsible enough to not get hit by the right hand too much, but she also seems to be one of those fighters who is pretty pleased if she's being defensively responsible, and I agree with Zane that this fight could be pretty dismal. Kalindra Faria by unanimous decision

Staff picking Faria: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Fraser, Ram, Zane, Tim, Ryan, Victor, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Borella: Bissell

Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham

Mookie Alexander: Playing out the various possible outcomes to this awesome fight, I believe that Dariush’s underrated punching power will rock Dunham, then Beneil will jump on his back and get a submission. I can just as easily see Dunham keeping the fight on the feet from start to finish and winning a kickboxing match, but the pick is Beneil Dariush by submission, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Evan Dunham is tremendously underrated, partially because he has something of a blue collar style, and partially because he doesn't fight very often. This is a tough but not unwinnable matchup for him. He doesn't hit very hard, starts slowly, and is a bit plodding, but is hugely physically strong and tireless- Dariush must be very careful in coming forwards, as pressuring right into the clinch has historically been a death sentence against Dunham. He outpaced both Tibau and RDA (in an underrated robbery loss), and beat Pearson effortlessly up close, where Will Brooks struggled. That said, his historical issues with fundamental kickboxing, his slow starting and Dariush's ability to select a good gameplan for opponents mean that even if Dunham gets into the fight, he'll likely be at at least a single round deficit, and has a good chance of getting blown out in the first few minutes. Beneil Dariush by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Love this fight, and I really especially love it if Dunham can get takedowns. I get the feeling Dariush will pressure him hard and Dunham will shoot as a result. If he gets Dariush down and really goes after him, we could have a very fun grappling match. If it stays standing, I expect Dunham to do well early, and then start to get sloppy as the fight goes on, while Dariush improves his reads and takes over more and more. The interesting point will be, as Phil mentioned, Dunham is tireless. Even if his technique breaks down a little at range late, his output stays really high. So it’ll be on Dariush to get the right reads. Beneil Dariush via unanimous decision.

Victor Rodriguez: When the fight was announced, I leaned heavily towards Dariush. Now I’m thinking Dunham can keep him guessing with takedown attempts and outwork him with pressure and volume standing. Eventually some of those shots will get through, and he’s not gonna stop punching. His style may be better suited to win rounds here. Evan Dunham by decision.

Staff picking Dariush: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Ram, Tim, Zane, Ryan, Eddie, Anton
Staff picking Dunham: Bissell, Victor, Stephie

Tom Duquesnoy vs. Cody Stamann

Phil Mackenzie: Stamann is very well rounded and has a great deal of depth to his game. However, he does appear to be one of those fighters who needs to have all the pieces working in order to be functional: at certain points against Terrion Ware he looked to be struggling with the boxing, and had to rely on the fact that Ware has Neer-level takedown defense. Duquesnoy's defensive wrestling was slightly concerning against Williams, but he's a more powerful and far more dynamic hitter who is extremely hard to keep down, and a murderer in the clinch. Tom Duquesnoy by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: Stamann doesn’t have the defensive tools to keep Duquesnoy from pressuring him nor the top control to hold him down. Tom Duquesnoy via TKO, Round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Stamann is good, but he’s not complete enough to deal with the ground strikes and submission attempts. Unless Duquesnoy ends up on his back and is suddenly and mysteriously clueless as to what to do once he’s there, he should take this. Tom Duquesnoy by TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Duquesnoy: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Ram, Tim, Zane, Ryan, Victor, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Stamann:

Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green

Phil Mackenzie: I'm not a huge believer in Vannata, but I have to admit that his last fight was extremely fun. Gibson has built him into a better Jackson-Wink fighter, but I think the historic flaws of the camp are very present in his style, namely a reliance on footspeed over footwork, and a tendency to focus on being "unpredictable" more than technically sound. Gibson has to his credit layered some good fundamentals in there, like head movement and a well-drilled hook, but Vannata has still been vulnerable to getting backed up and pressured. Green... probably isn't going to do that. He's a bigger, longer fighter, but he likes to lay back, box and counter. Vannata will get room to do flashy, weird stuff which gets oohs from the crowd and picks up judges' points. His boxing and wrestling defense are still issues, and I could well see Green picking him off, particularly as Lando seems a somewhat emotional fighter, but Lando Vannata by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Vannata has serious questions to answer about his ability to respond to opponents and to pay credence to their own offense while creating his. David Teymur beat him solidly with good fundamental kickboxing and consistent aggression. Green is very likely to give Vannata the space and time to be creative, unless he defaults to a clinch heavy stifling game. That could frustrate Vannata, but I just don’t think Green will create enough offense to get the win here, even if he can exert some positional control. Lando Vannata by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Vannata is way more consistent than Green, who appears content to eat punches and brush his shoulders in an attempt to BS the judges. Green’s got the slicker boxing and some veteran savvy to fall back on, but unless he nails Lando with some nut shots… Lando Vannata by decision.

Staff picking Vannata: Bissell, Nick, Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Ram, Tim, Zane, Victor, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Green: Dayne, Ryan

Poliana Botelho vs. Pearl Gonzalez

Zane Simon: Botelho is likely the better athlete, while Gonzalez is the bigger, more controlled, evenly paced fighter. However, at this level of competition, the better athlete has a habit of pulling out the win, even if it takes a sloppy, ugly fight to do it. I expect Gonzalez to land some good straight punches, but eventually not have the variety or foot speed to really make Botelho pay for her wildly unstructured fight style. Poliana Botelho by split decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Botelho has a more complete striking arsenal with a good sense for when to fire off leg kicks. Gonzalez has more of a hard-nosed approach with her wrestling and a knack for getting into firefights up close. Poliana won’t be coaxed into that kind of situation so easily, and should be able to break away to keep things at the range that favors her. Poliana Botelho by decision.

Phil Mackenzie: On the feet, these two are broadly similar as slightly clunky, single-shot kickboxers, but I think Botelho has a bit more skill, power and defensive responsibility. Gonzalez is the better and more consistent grappler but I'm not sure if I trust her wrestling, and think we get a cautious fight which never goes above a simmer, where Botelho lands the more telling strikes. Poliana Botelho by unanimous decision.

Staff picking Botelho: Nick, Dayne, Fraser, Tim, Zane, Victor, Phil, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Gonzalez: Bissell, Mookie, Ram, Ryan, Eddie

Walt Harris vs. Mark Godbeer

Tim Bissell: I’m being a total homer here. Being from Somerset there are so few teams/athletes to root for, so - for pretty much that reason alone - I’m picking my scrumpy-drinking, cow-tipping, and tractor-driving brother-in-arms to land his gurt hand of God on Harris’ chin. That would be lush. Mark Godbeer by KO (Round 2).

Phil Mackenzie: Much as I would like to see Tim validated with another UFC win carried back to the West Country, this is a mean, cruel fight set up to get Harris a picturesque win. He's a pretty good striker and athlete for heavyweight, and Godbeer is conversely just a tough bloke. Walt Harris by TKO, round 2.

Ram Gilboa: I’m not partial for Somerset, but I am partial for beer. Still, Walt Harris by TKO, round 1

Zane SImon: Godbeer is the slower, smaller, less powerful heavyweight where neither man is particularly durable. Walt Harris via KO, round 1.

Victor Rodriguez: UFC baby, what! is you doin’? Walt Harris by Ox Baker heart punch, round 1.

Eddie Mercado: 2017 is the year of the Walt. He called his last KO against Cyril Asker, and in my interview with him before this fight, he called for another 1st round KO. I submit that if Harris is correct, we change his nickname from “The Big Ticket” to “The Big Mystic” or even “Waltradamus.” Walt Harris by KO in round 1.

Staff picking Harris: Nick, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Ram, Tim, Zane, Ryan, Victor, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Godbeer: Bissell

Magomed Bibulatov vs. John Moraga

Tim Bissell: I believe the man most likely to win this fight is the individual who has extremely close ties to a warlord turned quasi-dictator who has been systematically threatening, alienating, abusing, tormenting, and reportedly killing LGBTQ+ individuals in the Republic of Chechnya. Bibulatov by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I didn’t pick Werdum, and I’m not picking Bibulatov either. War Moraga! John Moraga, UD

Phil Mackenzie: Moraga beating Mokhtarian who was clearly not even close to UFC level didn't leave me optimistic about him moving forwards. Particularly concerning was that Moraga couldn't put Mokhtarian away- if nothing else, Moraga has always been an excellent finisher. If he's settling into a new role as a relatively well-rounded but not terribly threatening veteran, I suspect Bibulatov will just outpace and outwork him pretty much everywhere. Magomed Bibulatov by unanimous decision.

Ram Gilboa: I have nothing to say about the esteemed BE staff’s politics, but when in doubt, pick the guy from the Caucasus. Magomed Bibulatov by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: If Bibulatov decides that he wants to keep this standing and test his striking, this could be a very awkward tough fight to score. Bibulatov’s striking is creative and dynamic, but it’s not deep and his boxing is... well, it’s bad. But his speed and command of range may be enough to keep Moraga at a distance looking for just the right counters, and drifting out of the fight like he did against Nicolau. If Moraga really presses Bibulatov, I expect this will become much more of a wrestling/grappling match that I think Bibulatov can take over with his physicality and positional command. Magomed Bibulatov by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Moraga needs to stay busy to win this one, but his striking is clean and hard enough to put Bibulatov away. That said, Bibulatov’s phase-shifting is better and his wrestling will give Moraga tons of trouble. For some reason, I’m getting the sense that Moraga will crack Bibulatov hard enough to keep him second-guessing himself quite a bit and then take over the rest of the fight. John Moraga by decision.

Staff picking Bibulatov: Nick, Bissell, Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Ram, Tim, Zane, Ryan, Eddie, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Moraga: Fraser, Victor

Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares

Mookie Alexander: It’s powerless volume kickboxer vs. BJJ guy with suspect gas tank (who can now strike a little bit)! Gimme Tavares to win this one by stopping takedowns and outlanding Leites in every round. Brad Tavares by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: One of those fights that when booked makes you say “Wait, surely this has happened before, right?” Then you fall asleep. I’ll eat my hat if there’s a finish here. Brad Tavares, SD

Phil Mackenzie: It feels like the age of the three tribes of generic middleweights is coming to an close, with Natal retiring, Camozzi gone etc. So this is a bit of a throwback. I'm not really sure what to think here. Tavares' defensive wrestling has generally been very sound, but he can get stalled out waiting for people to stop grappling so that he can strike. Leites has clearly lost a step and neither man is mentally the most robust fighter in the world... I wouldn't be surprised to see Leites win purely on activity, but give me Tavares to edge out a slow, dull fight Brad Tavares by split decision.

Zane Simon: This seems like exactly the kind of fight where Tavares barely does enough to win without thrilling anyone. Tavares has striking tools in his arsenal, but not the kind of pace or confidence in them to take over a fight there, and Tavares is nearly impossible to take down. That seems made for Tavares to do just enough round by round to edge out the fight. Brad Tavares by split decision.

Victor Rodriguez: By Rodney Dangerfield’s ghost, this fight will be ugly as sin. Don’t bet on this. Leites has improved striking, but not good enough to really crack Tavares or put him away. His ground game can be great, but he lacks the wrestling or takedown game to take Tavares down. Tavares can strike, but not hard enough nor consistently enough to finish Leites. This is the kind of fight that makes that overweight rando sitting next to you at the bar think he can take on trained professionals as he scarfs overcooked chicken wings and drinks atrocious and overpriced beer. His shirt is smeared with stains, and he probably doesn’t realize his blue cheese for his wings is actually diluted with ranch dressing. In fact, he probably wanted ranch dressing to begin with, because he is a monster - a manifestation of everything you should hate. He proceeds to scratch his visible buttcrack and sneaks a sniff of his fingertips thinking nobody saw him. But you did. And he doesn’t know, but he doesn’t care. But now you live with the shame that should rightfully be his. That’s the kind of smugness that surrounds us, and this fight contributes to that in the form of some underwhelming and unnecessary Butterfly Effect scenario as foretold in prophecy. Goddamn, I hate this fight. Brad Tavares by whatever.

Eddie Mercado: Screw this fight. I’m picking the Sandman by Zzzzz….

Staff picking Leites: Nick, Bissell, Ram, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Tavares: Mookie, Dayne, Phil, Fraser, Zane, Ryan, Victor, Eddie, Anton

Marco Beltran vs. Matt Schnell

Phil Mackenzie: Schnell's durability is a real concern. Getting knocked out from guard... at flyweight? That shouldn't happen. I suspect he might be a bit too big for 125: the cut dehydrating him, and the speed differential opening him up to getting tagged. I thought he looked pretty decent against Font before getting tagged. Oh well. That said, Beltran has looked weirdly terrible lately. He seemed like a promising fighter if he showed the TUF LatAm improvements which so many of his contemporaries have, but instead he's gone into a tailspin. Matt Schnell by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Schnell seems to have a bad chin for a flyweight, which is a really bad chin to have. But he’s also a decently fundamental, scrappy fighter as long as he’s conscious. Beltran could catch him, absolutely, but he also looked god awful at flyweight last time out and I’m really not sure he’s made for this division, especially if Schnell can keep a pace on him. Add it that Beltran himself isn’t any kind of power puncher and... Matt Schnell by decision.

Staff picking Beltran: Mookie, Ram, Tim, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Schnell: Nick, Bissell, Dayne, Fraser, Zane, Ryan, Victor, Eddie


Who wins the UFC 216 title fights?

This poll is closed

  • 79%
    Ferguson and Johnson
    (692 votes)
  • 3%
    Ferguson and Borg
    (32 votes)
  • 14%
    Lee and Johnson
    (128 votes)
  • 2%
    Lee and Borg
    (23 votes)
875 votes total Vote Now