UFC 216: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2017

UFC 216: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    UFC 216 is an awkward card for the UFC, sitting in the purgatory between the company's summer blockbusters and its stacked winter shows. Still, there is a great deal of intrigue on this card and lots of fun waiting to be had. The main card stands as follows:

    • Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee
    • Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg
    • Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis
    • Mara Romero Borella vs. Kalindra Faria
    • Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham

    Naturally, the Bleacher Report MMA team is here to look over the card and deliver spoilers for Saturday night's show.

    So who will win at UFC 216? And how are they going to pull it off? Read on and find out!

Beneil Dariush vs. Evan Dunham

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    Beneil Dariush is in rebuilding mode after a tough loss to Edson Barboza.
    Beneil Dariush is in rebuilding mode after a tough loss to Edson Barboza.Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Steven Rondina

    Dunham isn't an easy out for anyone beyond the lightweight elite (and even then, he's not that easy). Still, Dariush is the all-around better fighter, and that's enough for him to get my nod here.

    Dariush, unanimous decision

       

    Nathan McCarter

    Dunham has to be pretty shopworn at this point, right? That's what I'm going to be basing this prediction on at UFC 216. Dariush has a skill set to give a prime Dunham issues, and with some wear and tear on his body, Dariush will be able to finish.

    Dariush, submission, Rd. 2

       

    Craig Amos

    Dunham has come back from the dead after three straight losses and could really make a splash by beating the talented but often frustrating Dariush. Though Dunham has momentum and it is a winnable fight, the most likely outcome favors Dariush, who should be drawn out of his shell by his aggressive opponent.

    Dariush, unanimous decision

       

    Scott Harris

    Dariush is just better all around here. That's especially true on the ground, where Dariush has an underrated ground game. Remember when he styled on Jim Miller? I do.

    Dariush, unanimous decision

Mara Romero Borella vs. Kalindra Faria

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    Kalindra Faria is set to make her UFC debut after eight years on the indie circuit.
    Kalindra Faria is set to make her UFC debut after eight years on the indie circuit.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Rondina

    The best way to pick a fight between two veterans is to compare and contrast success vs. strength of competition. Despite having a number of blemishes on her record, Faria's losses have exclusively come opposite formidable competition. That's not the case with Borella and that's a deal-breaker for me.

    Faria, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    This was supposed to be Faria vs. Andrea Lee, but a past diuretic failure put her debut on pause. Enter Borella. She's a pretty unsung fight in her own right, but this isn't the matchup for her. Faria is probably a top-15 talent at 125, and all her losses are to notable names. She'll likely pick up a decision nod.

    Faria, unanimous decision

       

    Amos

    Nathan raises a good point about Faria's strength of schedule. She's earned some good results against some good fighters and is rightly the favorite in the matchup. Borella owns a couple of solid wins as well, but her opposition hasn't been on the same level. I'll say Faria wins with punches late.

    Faria, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    Harris

    There's not a lot of tape on Borella, but it's reasonably clear that the Italian is fairly well balanced. So is Faria, but Faria seems far more aggressive. Borella also appears knockout-prone. The favorite takes down the last-minute replacement.

    Faria, TKO, Rd. 1

Fabricio Werdum vs. Derrick Lewis

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    Fabricio Werdum, right, needs to rebound after a narrow loss to Alistair Overeem.
    Fabricio Werdum, right, needs to rebound after a narrow loss to Alistair Overeem.John Locher/Associated Press

    Rondina

    From an X's and O's perspective, Werdum is inarguably better than Lewis. But I think his age is starting to catch up with him, and that's going to cost him here.

    Lewis, TKO, Rd. 2

       

    McCarter

    Stylistically, this should be Werdum walking through Lewis. But Lewis has a way about him, and I'm buying into that. Lewis connects on and sleeps Werdum.

    Lewis, KO, Rd. 1

       

    Amos

    This could go either way for five minutes. After that, it can only go one way. Werdum will tire Lewis out with kicks and knees early, then clinch up, get a trip and make quick work of his opponent on the mat.

    Werdum, submission, Rd. 2

         

    Harris

    As much as I want to take the Lewis upset, Werdum is simply too skilled for the power hitter. His striking is more diverse as well, and he'll use that to set up a takedown, after which it's Werdum's world for sure.

    Werdum, submission, Rd. 2

Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg

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    If he wins, Demetrious Johnson will break Anderson Silva's record for title defenses.
    If he wins, Demetrious Johnson will break Anderson Silva's record for title defenses.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Rondina

    Borg, weight issues aside, is good. Very good. Good to the point where the thought of his beating Johnson crossed my mind. That notion lasted until I remembered, "Oh wait, Demetrious Johnson is the best fighter in MMA." 

    Johnson, submission, Rd. 4

       

    McCarter

    Steven isn't wrong. Borg is better than most are giving him credit for, but it won't matter in this fight. Johnson claims UFC history because he's the best ever to do it. He is the greatest fighter we've seen from a technique perspective. He'll finish Borg with strikes.

    Johnson, TKO, Rd. 2

       

    Amos

    Yeah, I'm on board with the "Borg is good but Johnson is better" stance. It feels repetitious when talking about Johnson, but there's really no reason to call for an upset against him. He has no obvious weakness that can be exploited in a matchup with any particular opponent, and Borg is no exception. Expect a high-paced first couple of rounds in which Borg has a moment or two, but the outcome will never really be in doubt.

    Johnson, unanimous decision

       

    Harris

    Nothing different here than the last time. Not only is Johnson better, but he poses a bad matchup for Borg, who doesn't have the precision it takes to do damage on the lightning-quick champ.

    Johnson, TKO, Rd. 3

Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

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    Kevin Lee could become a breakout star with a win over Tony Ferguson.
    Kevin Lee could become a breakout star with a win over Tony Ferguson.Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Rondina

    Yes, I'm sounding the upset alarm. Ferguson is phenomenal, but he's also somebody who takes risks and relies on his grappling skills to avoid repercussions. Lee's style neutralizes that, and unless Ferguson out-strikes him in a big way (which he could, but don't forget his near-loss to Lando Vannata), I'm thinking the Motown Phenom edges him out on the scorecards.

    Lee, unanimous decision

       

    McCarter

    I'm not a doubter of Lee's abilities, but I still doubt he can maintain the elite-level success in this shark-infested division. Ferguson chomps Lee's title dreams with a big victory. Lee may resort to his wrestling, but with Ferguson's defense and counter-violence, I don't expect it to hit the scorecards.

    Ferguson, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    Amos

    It's good to see Lee getting a shot after a nice run of success, but it ends here. Ferguson is about as well-rounded as they come, and so long as he can prevent Lee from controlling him on the ground, he'll move to 13-1 as a UFC fighter.

    Ferguson, TKO, Rd. 3

       

    Harris

    Lee may get exposed here. He doesn't hit quite as many takedowns as people think, and Ferguson's takedown defense is excellent. Lee also sometimes has problems getting going on the feet. Ferguson does not have that problem. Lee will be overwhelmed—simple as that.

    Ferguson, TKO, Rd. 2