Matches to Make After UFC 216

By Brian Knapp Oct 8, 2017

The superlatives in relation to Demetrious Johnson have long since been exhausted.

“Mighty Mouse” retained the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title by submitting Ray Borg with a spectacular fifth-round armbar in the UFC 216 co-main event on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. Victimized in one of the great finishes in UFC history and the clear frontrunner for “Submission of the Year,” Borg yielded to the record-setting champion 3:05 into Round 5.

In what may have been his most dominant performance to date, Johnson stuffed the stat sheet at the expense of his young challenger. According to preliminary FightMetric data, he outlanded Borg by an almost unfathomable 172-22 margin in total strikes, went 8-for-8 on takedowns and executed a career-high 19 guard passes. The two flyweights combined to land 54 significant strikes in the first three rounds; Johnson accounted for 49 of them. This does not even mention the rear waistlock slam to armbar transition with which he seamlessly finished Borg.

With the victory, Johnson surpasses former middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s all-time record for consecutive UFC title defenses. He is at 11 and counting.

In the aftermath of UFC 216, here are five matches that ought to be made:

Related » UFC 216: By the Numbers

Demetrious Johnson vs. Henry Cejudo-Sergio Pettis winner: On a 13-fight winning streak that dates back to a March 2012 draw with Ian McCall, Johnson still has never lost as a flyweight. Even more frightening for the rest of the division is the widespread belief that he continues to improve upon his already otherworldly skills. Johnson made Borg, a blue-chip prospect many see as a future champion, look extraordinarily average. Now what? Let us assume for argument’s sake that Johnson forgoes a potential return to the bantamweight division -- talk of a hypothetical super fight with either Cody Garbrandt or T.J. Dillashaw certainly gets the blood pumping -- and remains at 125 pounds. Pickings are slim, but they are nevertheless intriguing. Cejudo and Pettis will lock horns at UFC 218 on Dec. 2, with the winner likely emerging as the No. 1 contender.

Tony Ferguson vs. Conor McGregor: Ferguson turned in another stellar effort under the brightest of spotlights, as he submitted Kevini Lee with a third-round triangle choke to capture the interim lightweight championship in the main event. “El Cucuy” withstood significant adversity late in the first round, where Lee uncorked some devastating ground-and-pound from full mount. Ferguson was undeterred, kept his foot on the gas and waited for the fast-rising Xtreme Couture star to tire. He answered a Lee takedown in the third round with an active guard, biting down a tight armbar before securing the fight-ending triangle. Ferguson has won 10 fights in a row, the longest such streak in the history of the UFC’s 155-pound weight class. McGregor last competed inside the Octagon in November, when he put away Eddie Alvarez with punches to claim the undisputed lightweight championship.

Fabricio Werdum vs. Alexander Volkov: The ageless Werdum made the best of a difficult situation. A two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist, “Vai Cavalo” dispatched Walt Harris -- the American Top Team representative replaced an injured Derrick Lewis on a few hours’ notice -- with a quick first-round armbar in their makeshift heavyweight feature. Werdum, 40, brought it to a close 65 seconds into the first round. He has won eight of his past 10 bouts, losing only to longtime rival Alistair Overeem and current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Volkov was last seen at UFC Fight Night 115 on Sept. 2, when he took care of Stefan Struve with third-round punches in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

John Moraga vs. Jussier da Silva: Now four-plus years removed from his failed bid to unseat Johnson, Moraga continues to make waves at 125 pounds. The grossly underappreciated flyweight contender sprang a significant upset on the undercard, as he stopped Magomed Bibulatov on punches in the first round and handed the former World Series of Fighting champion his first professional defeat. Their encounter lasted all of 98 seconds. It served as a reminder that Moraga has the necessary tools to make life difficult for a majority of the fighters who populate his division. Da Silva last fought at UFC Fight Night 117 on Sept. 23, when the onetime Shooto Americas champion submitted Yuta Sasaki with a first-round rear-naked choke.

Kevin Lee vs. Eddie Alvarez-Justin Gaethje loser: His loss to Ferguson notwithstanding, Lee figures to play a significant role in the UFC lightweight division for the foreseeable future. “The Motown Phenom” has made serious strides throughout his 12-fight run in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and continues to trend in the right direction, with wins over Michael Chiesa, Francisco Trinaldo and Magomed Mustafaev already on his resume. At just 25 years of age, Lee has plenty of time and room to grow; and he has already shown a willingness and desire to do so. Alvarez will face Gaethje in one of the year’s most anticipated encounters at UFC 218 on Dec. 2 in Detroit.


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