Fight Pass Prelims
Matt Schnell (10-4) vs. Marco Beltran (8-6): Kicking off the first fight of the night will be two fighters desperately looking for a win. Of course every competitor always wants to win, but I mean the loser of this fight, regardless of who it is, will have lost three in a row. For Schnell that will make him 0-3 in the UFC and Beltran would be 3-3 if he were to lose. That is historically a tough spot to be in and hopefully that will add to the intensity of this fight. Prior to the UFC, Matt Schnell was on a seven fight win streak. He won more than half of his wins by submission and has a couple knockouts. He is a black belt in karate and it shows because he likes to stand in front of his opponents and throw. His opponent, Beltran, also has more submission victories than knockouts. Beltran spends more time in the clinch and works more takedown attempts, although it hasn't been that successful in the UFC. From what I have seen it looks like he is literally trying to catch his opponent and work something out once he has the clinch, but I haven't seen much success from it. I see Schnell winning this one because he pushes the fight and if Beltran does manage to get him on the ground, I see Schnell winning there too. Schnell by second round TKO.
(#13) Thales Leites (27-7) vs. Brad Tavares (15-5): Brad Tavares will be coming into this fight having won three of his last four. He has four wins by TKO and two by submission. Tavares spends a lot of time working for the takedown, but has trouble seeing success with only a 33% success rate. He is going to look to get Leites on the ground and grind him out. Unfortunately, Leites isn't the kind of guy you want to try that gameplan against. Leites is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and has won 15 fights by submission. Now it's not impossible to beat a good grappler on the ground like I may have made it sound, but I have seen more than enough guys get caught in something they couldn't punch their way out of. It takes a savage at ground and pound to grind a good grappler on the ground and I don't see Tavares as that caliber of brawler. The way I see this fight going is that Leites will pick up on how often Tavares will be going for the takedown. I believe he will use this and allow Tavares to get him so he can set up his own grappling. From there Leites will make him tap towards the end of the first round.
(#11) John Moraga (17-6) vs. (#15) Magomed Bibulatov (14-0): John Moraga has had it tough recently with only four fights in the past almost three years and has only won one of them. Tonight isn't going to be any better because he is fighting one of the three people tied for second biggest active undefeated streak. Magomed Bibulatov was ranked #15 after only one fight in the UFC. He won by decision, but it was brutal with about six times as many strikes as his opponent. On top of that he has five wins by submission and two by knockout with all but one in the first round. Bibulatov is a world champion in both kik-jitsu and UKADO. While I couldn't find any information on what kik-jitsu is, UKADO is a full-contact variation of kempo. His opponent, Moraga, has eight wins by submission and two by knockout. He is a collegiate level wrestler and mixed with his jiu-jitsu experience, he is a threat on the ground. Bibulatov is fast, technical and relentless and I can't see Moraga winning this unless he shows up looking the way he did before he lost to Johnson. I think this is going to be unfortunately one-sided and Bibulatov will get a first round TKO.
Walt Harris (10-5) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-3): The fight pass will close out with two heavyweight brawlers. Mark Godbeer has won four of his last five fights. He has nine knockouts and two submissions with five of them finished in the first round. His opponent, Walt Harris, has won all of his fights by knockout. Nine of the ten were in the first round and seven of those were in the first two minutes. On top of that, he went 23-1 in amateur competition and won all of those by knockout or TKO. I can see a giant question mark over what his gas tank looks like. Two of his losses in the UFC were by decision. Godbeer averages 5.5 significant strikes per minute where Harris only averages three. There could be the argument that Harris has more stopping power, but it is undeniable that Godbeer lands more often. I think Godbeer should intentionally drag this into the later rounds so he can see some wear on Harris. If he can play the whole first round defensively with success then he can really open up in the second and get what I predict to be a second round TKO.
Fox Sports 1 prelims
Pearl Gonzalez (6-2) vs. Poliana Botelho (5-1): Kicking off the televised prelims is a strawweight bout. Poliana Botelho is making her UFC debut tonight and coming in winning three in a row. She has five wins by knockout and three of them were in the first round. Her opponent is only one fight her senior in the UFC. Pearl Gonzalez lost her UFC debut ending a six fight win streak. She has four wins by submission and one by knockout with three of them finished in the first round. In her last fight, it was made clear that if you can counter well and really place your shots, that's when you have Gonzalez. If Botelho can do that, like she is known to do to others, then its her fight. If Gonzalez developed a better defense and learn to move more instead of just trying to block then I think she takes it. I predict Botelho will win this by second round TKO. I don't know personally, but it seems like a big change to make and I don't see it being completely corrected after just one fight.
Lando Vannata (9-2) vs. Bobby Green (23-8): Moving on to two high-pace lightweights. Bobby Green has hit a rough patch, losing his last three fights. Before that he was on an eight fight win streak. He has nine wins by knockout and eight fights by submission. He just barely lost two of his three and you could argue he deserved the one. Vannata also needs a win here with both of his losses being in his three UFC fights. He has four wins by knockout and four by submission with only one finish not in the first. Both of his losses however were fight of the night so they were close. I think this will be a brawl and it will fun to watch wherever it ends up. I honestly don't know. The people they lost to are of relatively high caliber and they were all pretty close in their losses. Vannata is a brute and doesn't stop coming after you, but Green has excellent head movement and can avoid full combos. Upon further review I am giving this one to Vannata. Green has great evasive skills and this will make it via decision, but when Vannata lost to Ferguson he beat the shit out of him. It was obvious Ferguson won, but Vannata came in on his first UFC and almost took down the top guy in the division.
Will Brooks (18-3) vs. Nik Lentz (29-8-2): Nik Lentz is a real grinder spending a rather even amount of time in all three situations. He has nine wins by KO/TKO and seven wins by submission. He has won six of his last nine fights and wanting to get back into the win column. His opponent, Will Brooks, was on a nine fight win streak before losing to both the Oliveiras. In his career, he has five wins by knockout and four wins by submission. Lentz can take a hell of a beating and I think the only way to beat him like that is to get in a position where the ref is forced to call it. Will Brooks tends to take a similar style to Charles Oliveira which is someone who beat Lentz. Both of them get the clinch, impose their size and drop knees like crazy. I believe Brooks will have seen video from this fight and will do the same thing to Lentz to eventually pick up a third round TKO.
Tom Duquesnoy (15-1) vs. Cody Stamann (15-1): In a turn from recent fights, we get to see two streaks go head-to-head. Both fighters will be making this their second fight in the UFC so traditional stats won't reflect properfly because it's only based off of UFC fights. Cody Stamann is on an eight fight win streak. He has six wins by knockout and two by submission with four finishes in the first round. Tom Duquesnoy hasn't lost in his last 12 fights. He has eight wins by knockout, four by submission and five first round finishes. He is trained in a handful of martial arts including, collegiate wrestling, savate, muay thai, boxing and sambo. I believe that Duquesnoy is going to take this one. Stamann just pushes and lays heavy pressure, where Duquesnoy has moves for every situation he ends up in. He knows a ton of technique and has a great fight IQ to implement things at the right time. I see a flashy knockout happening during the second round.
UFC 216 Main Card
(#12) Beneil Dariush (14-3) vs. (#14) Evan Dunham (17-6): Kicking off the main card will be between two ranked lightweights. Evan Dunham is coming in on a four fight win streak. He has six wins by submission and three by knockout with three finishes in the first. Seven of his last eight wins have been by decision so he has has slowed on the finishing rate pretty dramatically. His opponent, Beneil Dariush, has won seven of his last nine fights. He also has six wins by submission and three by knockout, except with six in the first round. Darisuh, however, has finished nine of his last 13 wins. I think the difference in recent finishing rates is what makes my decision. Dariush is used to making his work quick so I believe he will engage first, get Dunham down, then get on him and secure the submission in the first.
Mara Romero Borella (11-4) vs. Kalindra Faria (18-5-1): Next up, we see two women flyweights make their debut. Kalindra Faria is coming into this fight on a three fight win streak. She has seven wins by knockout and five by submission with seven finishes in the first round. Three of her only five losses are from currently ranked UFC strawweights. On the other side of the cage is the first Italian woman to fight in the UFC. Mara Romero Borella has been unbeaten in her last six. She has four wins by submission and three by knockout with three first round stoppages. She is a black belt in kickboxing, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and shoot boxing. Kalindra Faria has this fight by knockout in the first round. She has fought some of the best in her division already and although she lost she came out stronger and with more experience I believe she is going to end this quickly.
(#2) Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1) vs. (#6) Derrick Lewis (18-5): In the middle of the main card we get the second heavyweight fight of the night. Derrick Lewis' last fight was a fight of the night against Mark Hunt which ended his six fight win streak. He has 16 wins by knockout and one by submission. His opponents tend to work the legs and body because they know of his deadly power. If his opponent can get him down then he should be able to finish this. Werdum is arguably one of the best heavyweights ever. He has had his road bumps, but he is a very accomplished jiu-jitsu artist as well as a fairly dangerous striker. Werdum has ten wins by submission and six wins by knockout. Lewis is actually dieting and training more frequently for the first time in his career. He mentioned he used to put no restrictions on anything he ate ever and would even eat whatever he wanted on the day of his past fights. This combination could create an entirely new monster and if he decides to stick with this approach, could cause a lot of trouble to other heavyweights. I have Werdum winning this. Even with a massive change in performance due to diet and increased work ethic, Lewis can't handle himself on the ground against someone like Werdum. I believe it will be back and forth in the first until Werdum gets hit a couple times.From there he will work the clinch and the cage then in the second round he will make Lewis tap.
(C) Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) vs. (#3) Ray Borg (11-2): Here we are at the co-main event to watch Demetrious Johnson attempt to break the record for all-time title defenses. This fight should have already taken place, but issues struck Ray Borg again forcing him to pull out of another fight. Ray Borg has won five of his last six fights and two in a row. He has six wins by submission and one by knockout. Borg spends most of his time on the ground with more strikes on the ground than double his strikes standing and in the clinch combined. He has a massive battle ahead of him tonight. Demetrious Johnson is the first and only UFC Flyweight Champion. He is tied for most title defenses in UFC history with ten and he is on a 12 fight win streak. DJ has ten wins by submission and five by knockout. Johnson is usually a slower-paced, technical fighter, but has known to pick up the pace when the situation calls for it. Almost none of his fights have been considered close sin his streak started and every time he faces someone a second time he only beats them worse than before. I'm nervous about picking Demetrious even though he is the obvious choice. At this point I think it's going to be something similar to how Anderson lost his streak if DJ ever loses. I think he will get caught with something and everything just goes downhill. However, Johnson doesn't fight cocky like Silva did and if he were to ever start, he definitely wouldn't do it in this fight. I can't help but worry that something bad is going to happen, but I believe Johnson will get a third round TKO and become the longest reigning champ in UFC history.
(#2) Tony Ferguson (23-3) vs. (#7) Kevin Lee (16-2): Finally, the fight that should have been to co-main when the current co-main got announced for this card. This fight does have potential to be fight of the night though, because all of Tony Ferguson's last three wins were awarded fight of the night and they have a shared 4 performances of the night. Kevin Lee is coming in hot with only one loss in his last ten fights. Lee has won eight fights by submission and one by knockout with five finishes in the first. He is a great striker and even piles shots on in the fights he gets submissions. His opponent has 11 wins by knockout and seven by submission with nine of the total happening in the first. Ferguson mixes his collegiate wrestling and brown belt in jiu-jitsu to keep the fight standing so he can tear apart his opponents. Kevin Lee seems most comfortable on the ground and Ferguson is skilled at making sure that doesn't happen. I think Ferguson will be able to keep this fight standing and beat him down until securing a TKO in the third.
- Mike W.
UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee, Johnson vs. Borg: This fight card is loaded I am disappointed it lost Nik Lentz vs. Will Brooks but at least it’s ready to go and everyone else after some drama from Kevin Lee made weight. My picks will be fast due to having some medical issues and still getting my masters homework done. So here they are. Our rankings are the first ones and the ufc.com rankings are in parentheses.
UFC Fightpass Prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
#12 (13) Thales Leites (27-7) vs. Brad Tavares (15-5): The Welterweight showdown to start off the night should be a fun one to kick off a crazy card. I love this fight and I think they will square off with some aggressive shots. I got Thales Leites winning this one by a 2nd round TKO.
#11 (11) John Moraga (17-6) vs. #14 (15) Magomed Bibulatov (14-0): The flyweight fight on the online prelims will be a very interesting one. Both of these guys will find their way into the top 10 ranks with a win and start getting themselves aimed at the title picture. I have Magomed winning this one by 3rd round submission.
Walt Harris (10-5) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-3): The first of 2 heavyweight fights on this card will see some pace and fists eventually flying. I have really liked the improvements I have seen from Walt Harris the past 2 fights and I believe he will carry that momentum to a 2nd round KO victory.
UFC FX Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Matt Schnell (10-4) vs. Marco Beltran (8-6): Another flyweight division battle here to kick off the televised prelims. I personally think this fight is a complete toss up but it will be a scrap the whole time and expect it to go the distance as either struggles to get the submission they will be looking for. I have faith though that Schnell is the better of the two and will get the decision victory.
Pearl Gonzalez (6-2) vs. Poliana Botelho (5-1): This battle in the women’s strawweight division should have some fun moments as both will get close to a finish at some point during this fight. I am really confident in Poliana Botelho will win this one by unanimous decision.
Lando Vannata (9-2) vs. Bobby Green (23-8): The lightweight throw down that this could become is a possible show stealer. Both of these guys are great fighters with some really impressive skills on both their feet and if the fight goes to the mat but I don’t see this leaving round 1. Bobby Green I believe will land something big and pick up an impressive TKO victory in round 1.
Tom Du quesnoy (15-1) vs. Cody Stamman (15-1): The main event of the televised prelims is one worthy of a main card spot. These two young studs are going to put on a show to prove which one is deserving of a rank in the bantamweight division. I am going to take the fire kid because I believe he is title bound Tom Dusqesnoy wins by 2nd round TKO.
UFC Main Card (10 PM/ET):
# 13 (12) Beneil Dariush (14-3) vs. #15 (14) Evan Dunham (17-6): The first fight on the main card is going to be incredible. I have a hard time seeing this fight making it to the end as I believe one of them will grab a submission victory. Beneil Dariush wins this one though in the 3rd round after a slow tactical first two rounds he finds a way to take this to the mat and grab a 3rd round submission.
Mara Romero Borella (11-4, 1 NC) vs. Kalindra Faria (18-5-1): I don’t know what to expect in our first flyweight fight in the women’s division but I hope it will be a great fight. I think Faria has an advantage on her feet and Borella has an advantage on the mat so this could come down to who gets the fight where. I like Borella a bit more than Faria but I think it could truly go either way. I have Borella winning by unanimous decision.
#3 (2) Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1) vs. #6 (6) Derrick Lewis (18-5, 1NC): The Heavyweight fight of the night could be a completely incredible throw down between two big heavyweights who are both trying to find a way to the title. I hope Derrick Lewis’ back is healed up as I am going to take him via 1st round KO as I believe Werdum is going to start to slow down.
(Champ) Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) vs. #2 (3) Ray Borg (11-2): The Flyweight title fight is more than a title fight. It is for the all-time title defense record which DJ is currently tied with Anderson Silva for. Now DJ has had some impressive victories in his title reign but this could be his toughest test. I believe Borg is a monster and one day might be the one to get the title from DJ as he is to me as close as a perfect fighter as you can ask for with exception of DJ. I am going to stick with the champ but this is one fight I could see the argument for depending if DJ gets his normal pace going. Demetrious Johnson wins by 4th round TKO.
#1 (2) Tony Ferguson (23-3) vs. #5 (7) Kevin Lee (16-2): The main event of the evening is for the interim lightweight title which should just be made the unified title because we haven’t seen Conor defend this belt once but that isn’t important right now. Kevin Lee screwed around with his weight cut and I believe he will get tired after the first two rounds and the LAST fighter you want to have a short gas tank against and tire early with is Tony Ferguson. I believe TFerg will pace him out and then come get the fight on his own. I think Tony Ferguson will win this fight by pushing the pace and exhausting Kevin Lee. I would love to see them both when they both are healthy and had an easy weight cut. TFerg wins via 3rd round KO.
- Matt Koontz.