Tony Ferguson is undoubtedly the biggest winner from UFC 216.
"El Cucuy" won the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship, and that's a huge win. However, it's not about what he won on Saturday night at UFC 216; it's about what he might win.
By winning the interim title, Tony Ferguson is now the front-runner for a fight with Conor McGregor. Regardless of how you feel about McGregor's rightful place in the division, his skills, abilities or personality, McGregor is undoubtedly the most lucrative fight in all of combat sports now that Floyd Mayweather Jr. has stepped away for the second time. When McGregor returns to the UFC's octagon after his brief stint away from the sport, he'll surely return with more hype and media attention than ever before. For Ferguson, he'll cash in on a humongous payday.
Although, Tony Ferguson seems like a guy that doesn't care all that much about the potential monetary increase he'll receive from fighting Conor McGregor. He was paid $500,000 for his third round submission of Kevin Lee at UFC 216 and that's already a larger amount than many expect to be fighting for when they begin their mixed martial arts career. Rather, Ferguson genuinely seems like he wants to give Conor McGregor a beat down and build a legacy.
All the more exciting is that it seems as though the UFC lightweight unification will go ahead sooner rather than later. Speaking on the MMA Hour, Ferguson commented:
Conor needs his ass kicked and we need to unify that belt. Otherwise he needs to vacate, set it down, walk away, and never f—king come back. Because if you go to 170, if you go to 185, or even if you drop to 145, I will f—king follow you, Conor, and I will haunt your f—king dreams, kid, and I will come after you.
Tony Ferguson is holding a winning ticket to the UFC's biggest lottery; he just needs to cash it in.
Although Kevin Lee lost the UFC Interim Lightweight Championship bout with Tony Ferguson, he leaves UFC 216 in a much better position than he entered.
Many people believed Kevin Lee didn't belong in the octagon with Tony Ferguson. Whether it was due to his official ranking or the way he talked his way into a fight with "El Cucuy", Lee received plenty of criticism. With critique comes media attention, however. Even the worst of media attention is still exactly that; attention. Sitting in the shadows will not help any fighter become the organizations next big star, and Kevin Lee recognizes this.
Lee showed up to every media day and press conference wearing clothes equally 'loud' as his personality. Put a microphone in front of Kevin Lee and he will say something wild and wacky enough that all the major media outlets will run stories on it.
Kevin Lee is just 25-years-old, an entire eight years younger than Tony Ferguson. Many disputed whether he could hang with Ferguson, who is one of the best mixed martial arts in the world. However, Lee proved every doubter wrong as he controlled Ferguson in the first round in both the striking and grappling exchanges.
For now, Kevin Lee has time to reset and work his way back up to a title shot. It may take a good 18-24 months or more before Lee is even considered at the top of the division, but considering his personality and awareness of how to create publicity, he'll arrive in style.
Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson achieved much more than Anderson Silva's consecutive title defense record with his win over Ray Borg at UFC 216.
Johnson won the fight in tremendous style. His tremendous 'mighty-plex' submission of Ray Borg in the fifth and final round was one of the most breathtaking moments the history of mixed martial arts. The sheer difficulty of this finish is unfathomable. But, in classic "Mighty Mouse" style, he made it look ridiculously easy.
Even then, this was much more than just an impressive submission. The spectacular finish was needed for many fans to come around to Demetrious Johnson. It feels ridiculous to even write that there were people out there who didn't respect "Mighty Mouse" before this fight, but that was the case. To anyone who thought Demetrious Johnson was a boring fighter, you couldn't be more wrong - especially after this evolutionary submission finish in the co-main event.
Through the five rounds, Demetrious Johnson gave Ray Borg a calculated beat down. It was a perfect mixture between the bashing you would see from a schoolyard bully and the elite level of mixed martial arts that only Demetrious Johnson can provide.
Technically, Ray Borg suffered defeat on the weekend in Las Vegas.
But, we all knew he was up against extreme odds when stepping inside the cage with Demetrious Johnson at UFC 216. What Borg showed us, however, is that he is much better than advertised. Borg provided a relatively difficult matchup for Johnson. I say 'relatively difficult', because in a complete view it was still one of the most dominant championship defenses in history.
Comparatively to the ten fighters who have challenged Demetrious Johnson for his UFC Flyweight Championship before him, though, Borg was pretty damn good. He showed his desire to win through the entire five rounds and this was on full display when he was refusing to tap to a dangerous armbar from Demetrious Johnson.
The 24-year-old Ray Borg showcased many of his outstanding attributes. His scrambling is high-level, it just wasn't 'elite'. His striking has also improved dramatically, it just wasn't 'elite', either. There's no doubting that Ray Borg will provide a colossal challenge to every opponent that steps into the octagon with him in the future.
Werdum, Harris and Godbeer
Despite Fabricio Werdum being the only heavyweight to record a victory on the weekend, he was one of three heavyweight's who came out as 'winners' from UFC 216.
When Derrick Lewis was removed from UFC 216 after reporting that he was suffering from the same back issues that have haunted him in the past, Walt Harris stepped up to face one of the greatest heavyweight's in the world, Fabricio Werdum.
Harris was entering the octagon with a killer on just five hours notice - it seemed crazy. Mark Godbeer, who was Harris' original opponent was left without a fight at UFC 216 despite training for months and months to prepare. And Fabricio Werdum was arguably making a risk himself, by taking on a new opponent with short-notice and no preparation.
At the end of it all, it turned out to be an excellent outcome for everyone involved.
Fabricio Werdum submitted Walt Harris with ease and looked spectacular in doing so. He didn't take any damage and received his guaranteed pay.
Walt Harris, despite being submitted by Werdum, took no damage. He also was able to get a 'feel' for what it's like to compete against the very best in the division. He received his salary.
And for Mark Godbeer, he didn't compete and still received his salary. How's that for a good outcome?
All three heavyweights came out of UFC 216 just as fresh as they entered it and received their full salaries.
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