Despite a scary moment at the scales earlier, No.2 Tony Ferguson (23-3-0) will battle No.7 Kevin Lee (16-2-0) for the interim lightweight belt at UFC 216.
And although the card did lose a feature preliminary fight, this card needed to proceed. For the city.
Shoutout to our Crossfire cartoonist Koriander Bullard. Show her some love at @CodenameSailoeE.
Let’s get to the fights. Kenai Andrews checks in with his thoughts.
UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS (6:15PM ET/3:15PM PT)
#13 THALES LEITES (27-7-0) VS. BRAD TAVARES (15-5-0)
Andrews: Leites has decent striking and jiu-jitsu, but he is now 36 years old. The 29-year-old Tavares may not be as accomplished, but I think he will have the energy to be more active and score more points.
Andrews Prediction: Brad Tavares via unanimous decision
#11 JOHN MORAGA (17-6-0) VS. #15 MAGOMED BIBULATOV (14-0-0)
Andrews: Moraga obviously has the experience advantage, but in this case I am going with the skills of the Russian. He will make Moraga work on the ground and and use the grappling to take some starch out of him.
Andrews Prediction: Magomed Bibulatov via UD
WALT HARRIS (10-5-0) VS. MARK GODBEER (12-3-0)
Andrews: Both guys pack the knockout power and Harris will get the last strike. The longer this goes, the more advantage goes to Godbeer, which is why Harris will end this one early.
Andrews Prediction: Walt Harris via TKO
TSN 2 PRELIMS (8PM ET/5PM PT)
PEARL GONZALEZ (6-2-0) VS. POLIANA BOTELHO (5-1-0)
Andrews: We saw Gonzalez fight valiantly against Cynthia Calvillo in her short notice debut. That should help her against Botelho, but is it enough? Botelho is making her octagon debut and has five knockout finishes. She can also get to the ground, only the octagon jitters is the only question. Going with the gameplan of Gonzalez.
Andrews Prediction: Pearl Gonzalez via UD
LANDO VANNATA (9-2-0) VS. BOBBY GREEN (23-8-0)
Andrews: Bobby Green is a tough guy but against top fighters can’t seem to compete. Vannata on the other hand almost beat Tony Ferguson on short notice. Have to go with the skills of Vannata.
Andrews Prediction: Lando Vannata via UD
TOM DUQUESNOY (15-1-0, 1NC) VS. CODY STAMANN (15-1-0)
Andrews: I like the energy and work rate of Duquesnoy. If he can keep the fight standing, he has the better chance to finish this one out. Stamann will get his shots in, but I think Duqesnoy will overcome them and get the finish.
Andrews Prediction: Tom Duquesnoy via TKO
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
#12 BENEIL DARIUSH (14-3-0) VS. #14 EVAN DUNHAM (17-6-0)
Andrews: Dunham is on a roll, outworking quality guys during a four-fight win streak. Can he do it against Dariush? Sure, but Dariush needs to have a subpar performance, which will not happen this time. Look for Dariush to use his unorthodox striking to throw Dunham off and take the decision.
Andrews Prediction: Beneil Dariush via unanimous decision
MARA ROMERO BARELLA (11-4-0, 1NC) VS. KALINDRA FARIA (18-5-1)
Andrews: Hard to call. I am going with Faria, her finish rate is impressive and I think she cn overcome the octagon jitters.
Andrews Prediction: Kalindra Faria via submission
#2 FABRICIO WERDUM (21-7-1) VS. DERRICK LEWIS (18-5-0, 1NC)
Andrews: If Werdum has prepared properly, he needs to avoid the big strikes and wear out Lewis on the ground. Lewis needs to land something. Have to go with the former champion.
Andrews Prediction: Fabricio Werdum via UD
DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON (26-2-1) VS. RAY BORG (11-2-0)
Andrews: Johnson may not get the finish, but he will get the record. He is simply better than Borg.
Andrews Prediction: Demetrious Johnson via UD
#2 TONY FERGUSON (23-3-0) VS. KEVIN LEE (16-2-0)
Andrews: Lee’s failure to initially make championship weight could put his gameplan in jeopardy. Will he have enough cardio to execute? I don’t think he will. Ferguson has even more opportunity to get the early striking momentum and ride it out. Lee needs something good early to happen to have a chance.
Andrews Prediction: Tony Ferguson via UD