“TUF 13” winner Tony Ferguson finally laid claim to UFC gold, and stretched his win streak to 10, after a third round submission win over rising prospect Kevin Lee in the UFC 216 main event saw him become the interim lightweight champion and set up a showcase fight with the division’s proper champ, Conor McGregor in the future.
Also, Demetrious Johnson would break UFC middleweight legend Anderson Silva’s long-standing record for consecutive title defences when he put in one of his most dominant defences of his UFC Flyweight title over Ray Borg to make it number 11.
UFC 216 took place on Saturday, October 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on a week which saw the city suffer from a mass shooting atrocity. The show would go ahead with the “Vegas Strong” theme present throughout the broadcast and many fighters paying tribute to the victims and their families post-fight.
In the evening’s main event, “El Cucuy” did not get off to the best starts as young prospect Lee pushed the pace early in the first round, with both fighters landing flash knock downs before Lee secured the takedown. From the top, the Detroit native unleashed a torrent of elbows and punches that could well have finished many a fighter however it only seemed to jolt Ferguson to life as the first round came to an end with Lee landing a very late blow but escaping punishment.
Whether it was down to the staph infection he revealed on fight night or his questionable weight cut, “The Motown Phenom” would start a gradual decline in the second round that would lead to his demise. As he slowed down, Ferguson took over landing increasingly harder blows including a slashing elbow and stiff jab which caused damage to the face of Lee. He would retaliate with a takedown attempt that was easily defended by the Californian who was visibly starting to relax.
Trying a different approach, Lee went straight for the takedown to start round 3 however was left dismayed as Ferguson quickly got back to his feet. The exhausted younger fighter could only circle away as he tried to catch his breath while Feguson stalked him, blowing him kisses and yelling at Lee to engage. The end came as Lee went for another takedown however ended up in Ferguson’s guard and from there, “El Cucuy” would secure a tight triangle choke, forcing the tap from his opponent at 4:02 of round 3 to win the UFC Interim lightweight title.
With 10 straight wins and the interim title around his waist, Ferguson now seems to be set on a collision course with lightweight champion McGregor and made sure to call him out both immediately after the fight and in the post-fight press conference. Meanwhile, Lee suffered his first loss in his last five fights and has talked about a move to the welterweight division after his weight cut to 155lbs has become increasingly problematic.
UFC 216 Results
UFC Interim Lightweight Title Bout: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via Submission (Triangle Choke) (Round 3 – 4:02)
UFC Flyweight Title Bout: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Submission (Armbar) (Round 5 – 3:15)
Heavyweight Bout: Fabricio Werdum def. Walt Harris via Submission (Armbar) (Round 1 – 1:05)
Woman’s Flyweight Bout: Mara Romero Borella def. Kalindra Faria via Submission (Rear-naked Choke) (Round 1 – 2:54)
Lightweight Bout: Evan Dunham vs. Beneil Dariush ends in a Draw (Majority) (28-28, 28-28, 28-29)
Bantamweight Bout: Cody Stamann def. Tom Duquesnoy via Decision (Split) (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Lightweight Bout: Lando Vannata vs. Bobby Green ends in a Draw (Split) (29-27, 27-29, 28-28)
Woman’s Strawweight Bout: Poliana Botelho def. Pearl Gonzalez via Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Flyweight Bout: Matt Schnell def. Marco Beltran via Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Flyweight Bout: John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov via KO (Punch) (Round 1 – 1:38)
Middleweight Bout: Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via Decision (Unanimous) (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)