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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 is winning at UFC 216? And how are they going to pull it off? Read on and find out!

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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

Evan Dunham isn't an easy out for anyone outside 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 Darisuh, 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

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Kalindra Faria is set to make her UFC debut after 8 years on the indie circuit.
Kalindra Faria is set to make her UFC debut after 8 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

Nathan 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

Craig 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

Scott 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

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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. 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 point it's Werdum's world for sure.

Werdum, submission, Rd. 2

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

Rondina

Ray Borg, weight issues aside, is good. Very good. Good to the point where the thought of him 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 to ever 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 coupled of rounds where 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, 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

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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

Steven Rondina

Yes, I'm sounding the upset alarm. Ferguson's phenomenal but he's also somebody that 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 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 has problems sometimes getting going on the feet. Ferguson does not that problem. Lee will be overwhelmed, simple as that.

Ferguson, TKO, Rd. 2

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