The build up to any heavily-covered UFC fight is normally full of drama and this upcoming Heavyweight Championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee is no exception when compared. There have been a number of shifts in the headline event, with Miocic and Velazquez initially tipped, but regardless the two heavyweights are ready to rumble!
The promotors then settled on a Flyweight bout between Demetrious Johnson and Ray Borg, which was initially scheduled for the previous event. Lando Vannata was also on the cards to face off against Abel Trujillo, but the former was since pulled from the event – replaced with Bobby Green. A women's Flyweight bout was scheduled too.
It was pulled almost as soon as it was announced however, as one of the newcomers, Andrea Lee, hadn't been through the USADA testing pool for six months. Normally this wouldn't be an issue – short-notice fights are usually exempt from the standard USADA rules – but Lee had already failed a drugs test in the past.
Demetrious 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson has defended his belt six times since winning it in 2012. He's tied with Anderson Silva for the most amount of successful title defences and is looking to beat Silva's record. Johnson is also ranked as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. No small feat.
The 'Mighty Mouse' is also a fast fighter. He's got quick footwork and strong technique, which make him a tough opponent. Johnson has a good stat sheet when it comes to defence too. His striking defence comes in at just shy of 70%, with a 65% success rate of avoiding takedowns. Having had a four-year winning streak, he's certainly not one to underestimate.
His opponent, the number-three ranked Flyweight Ray Borg, also known as 'The Tazmexican Devil' has been a pro since 2012 and has a pretty impressive fight record so far: 11-2-0. He also has the height advantage on Johnson (although Johnson has better reach, which is certainly a factor).
Although Borg may seem to be on the backfoot when you look at the stats, it's important to remember that he had a two-year run of no losses from 2012 to 2014 and most of his wins have come from submissions – if he can get Johnson down, he could be in with a good chance.
Having said that, Johnson's reach and record favour striking – and he's achieved more than one knock out this way. Both fighters have won 'Performance of the Night' in the past, so either way, it should be an interesting match. Many of the top bookmakers might say Johnson is the safe bet and the stats would tend to agree.
The main event for UFC 216 looks to be a close one. Tony 'El Cucuy' Ferguson is currently on a nine-fight winning streak. He's mainly a striker and is good at it, to say the least. Out of his 23 wins, almost half have been KOs, which matches with his successful striker rate of 90% standing.
When it comes to takedowns though, he's not as strong, with a pretty average 43% success rate with grapple attempts. That said, he's hard to get on the mat himself and has a solid takedown defence record – just over 80%. It's also worth keeping in mind that Ferguson has finished nine of his matches in the first round.
Kevin Lee is a relative newcomer, coming to UFC four years later than Ferguson in 2012. He's more of a submission fighter than Ferguson, eight of his 16 wins have been by submissions. This should make things especially interesting, given Ferguson's ability to avoid takedowns.
Striking is not Lee's strong point however, with only a 52% success rate from standing. 'The Motown Phenom' Lee and Ferguson are pretty close when it comes to height and weight and almost identical in terms of reach. This could give Lee the edge and Ferguson won't be able to exploit a reach advantage to keep him out of grapple range.
The main event looks like it'll be an exciting match, but punters shouldn't underestimate the headline fight either. In terms of stakes, Johnson and Ferguson are the favourites, which isn't much of a surprise, although odds are much closer for the Ferguson vs Lee match. Here are the odds for all fights according to William Hill.
They've got Johnson at 1/12 against Borg, who's at 13/2 and, in the other main event, they've got Lee at 7/4 against Ferguson at 4/9. Paddy Power have a slightly different set of odds for the main events, with Johnson at 1/14 against Borg at 6/1, and Lee at 7/4 facing Ferguson at 2/5.
Wherever you choose to place your stakes, on the favourites or the underdogs, it's sure to be a heated and exciting night in the Octagon. Head over to the William Hill online bookmaker site today to enjoy a generous free bet as well as find the latest odds and markets for UFC 216!