UFC 216 has arrived, and it would be an understatement to say that many MMA fans are excited. Despite the loss of Paige Vanzant and Jessica Eye from the main card, this weekend’s event still has a stellar line-up, and it should be a spectacular night of action. Therefore, I feel it is important to unveil to you what this Saturday’s fighters are all about, and what better way to do that than to discuss some of their past fights?
Here are five classic contests you must watch before sitting down for UFC 216.
Tony Ferguson vs Lando Vannata
There is a danger that comes with watching this fight before the others on this list – you may not have the energy to watch another. Coming in as a late replacement and making his UFC debut, Lando Vannata was written off immediately by the majority of the fan base. But, this did not phase the JacksonWink fighter, and he entered the octagon as relaxed as anyone before him. He proved to possess an even wilder style than top contender Tony Ferguson, and the pair engaged in a brawl so exhilarating that it almost defies description. Vannata almost picked up the victory here, and grew massively in popularity, making himself one of the most must-see attractions in the UFC lightweight division overnight. Tony Ferguson picked up the win with his trademark D’Arce choke, but it did not come easy, and it is easy to say that this contest earned its ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. Both Ferguson and Vannata compete this Saturday, so this is certainly a fight worth watching.
Fabricio Werdum vs Cain Velasquez
If you don’t know how good Fabricio Werdum is, then you must witness this title-winning performance from UFC 188 in 2015. Coming in against arguably the greatest heavyweight in mixed martial arts history, Werdum sought to add to his already legendary resume, which includes victories over Fedor Emelianenko, Minotauro Nogueira, and Alistair Overeem. The Brazilian already held the interim championship from a previous victory against Mark Hunt at UFC 180, and took the fight to the undisputed champion in a display that earned him ‘Performance of the Night’ accolades. Showing the huge progression in his standup game, Werdum out-struck Velasquez and submitted the all-time great with a guillotine choke in the third round. The fight was tantalizing throughout and is a perfect example of why Fabricio is still one of the key players in the UFC heavyweight division going forward.
Tom Duquesnoy vs Patrick Williams
Tom Duquesnoy is a name to remember in the bantamweight division, and I believe that you will see him many times in the future. “The Fire Kid” boasts a 15-1 record in professional MMA and is set to make his second appearance inside the octagon on Saturday night. If you wish to see what the 24-year-old combatant is all about, then this is the perfect fight to watch. In his UFC debut, Duquesnoy exploded onto the scene and proved why his debut was one of the most anticipated in years. His showdown with Patrick Williams was a highly exciting affair, with Duquesnoy displaying his evolved striking and conditioning when he defeated Williams by TKO in the opening minute of the second round. It was the ideal introduction for the 135-pound prospect, and was a very important first step on his journey towards glory in the UFC. His elite grappling skills will also be put to the test at UFC 216 when he squares off against Cody Stamann, a fellow rising star who seeks to spoil the Frenchman’s recent streak and make a statement of his own.
Kevin Lee vs Michael Chiesa
All controversy aside, this fight was a fantastic display of Kevin Lee’s elite-level grappling and fight IQ. The “Motown Phenom” faced some adversity early on when Chiesa threatened with his always sharp submission offense, but he remained calm and ultimately took control of the fight, winning via rear-naked-choke in the first round. This win proved how high the 25-year-old has risen in the lightweight division – Chiesa is widely regarded as one of the top fighters on the mat in the 155-pound weight class, and Lee’s sheer dominance came as a shock to many. He beat Chiesa at his own game and will now face Tony Ferguson for the interim lightweight title this Saturday. If you have just recently become aware of Kevin, I would advise you to check out this world-class performance before he challenges for his first title at UFC 216.
Tony Ferguson vs Edson Barboza
It is rare that you will see a fighter earn two slots on a list such as this, so take that as a sign of just how exciting a fighter Tony Ferguson is. This ‘Fight of the Night’ winner occurred in December of 2015, with ‘El Cucuy’ taking on fellow top contender Edson Barboza. The fight was not without controversy, but it was one of the most exhilarating showdowns of the year and displayed some of the best martial arts action you are ever like to see. In a back-and-forth war, Ferguson synced up yet another D’Arce choke to continue his winning streak, which stands to this day at nine consecutive victories. He hopes to grow on the streak this Saturday as I have mentioned earlier in this article. Tony is a fighter who needs little introduction – just watch his long lineup of fights and you will instantly become a fan of the number two lightweight in the world.
One of the most underrated cards of the year
With the drama that was the action and fallout of UFC 214, Mayweather-McGregor and the impending wave of excitement that UFC 217 will bring, it is easy to see why this weekend’s card has flown under the radar, although it deserves far more attention than it is getting. It is often not the most stacked fights cards that deliver, but rather those people ignore. I feel that UFC 216 has the perfect blend of star-power, intriguing matchups and noteworthy fighters to deliver an amazing night of fights. Some of the sport’s brightest prospects are set to continue their journeys at the card, and Demetrious Johnson may break Anderson Silva’s record of ten consecutive title defenses when he squares off against Ray Borg. With two titles on the line and tons of action, I cannot wait to witness what happens when the UFC rolls into Las Vegas this Saturday.
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