The UFC Interim Lightweight Title is up for grabs at UFC #216 this Sunday morning as Tony Ferguson takes on Kevin Lee. It’s the fight Conor McGregor wanted to see and we think both fighters could handle the Irish wonder if they were to fight as we speak. Tony Ferguson has come a long way since he fought on the Ultimate Fighter and 33-year-old has beaten some handy fighters coming into this all-important fight.
Kevin Lee has taken on a different range of fighters in preparation for this fight, but his hardest task has been cutting weight.The unpredictable 25- year-old needs to cut 19 pounds before his weigh-in, but according to media reports the “Motown Phenom” isn’t worried about making weight. Tony Ferguson is the current bookmakers elect at 3/1, but Kevin Lee has his supporters and the 9/1 price is expected to drop after the weigh in.
Tony Ferguson form
The 23-3 fighter is a completely different fighter to Kevin Lee. Ferguson is a strike first, submit later type of fighter and his explosiveness and ability to come out of nowhere is what makes him so tough to beat. He entered the professional UFC arena with a bad reputation, mostly due to his cocky nature on The Ultimate Fighter, but he has since kept his head down on focusing solely on winning in the Octagon.
He won a unanimous decision victory against Rafael Dos Anjos leading into this fight and that performance was enough to get him a chance at the interim title. Ferguson mauled Dos Anjos with strikes – landing 199 to 121 from his opponent. That scored him a Fight of the Night title, his second consecutive honour after beating Lando Vannata by submission in round 2 at UFC Fight Night in July.
His last loss came all the way back in 2012 when he lost to Michael Johnson at UFC on Fox, but he has since won three Performance of the Night titles, two Fight of the Night titles and one Submission of the Night honour. His career has taken off since beating Ramsey Nijem with a round one knockout at the Ultimate Fighter finale and he looks a natural up-and-coming champion. He lands 5.23 strikes per minute and he ranks better defensively than Kevin Lee. He’s been in the spotlight for longer than Lee and that could work to his advantage this week.
Kevin Lee form
Kevin Lee (16-2) is the new sensation in the UFC, but this fight might be too much, too soon. The #7 ranked lightweight scored a round one submission over the tough Michael Chiesa at UFC Fight Night, which earned him a spot in this title fight. That win scored him a Performance of the Night award, but that was the only award Lee has ever won in the UFC. Despite winning many of his fights via knockout, Lee has gone under the radar of the experts until he defeated Jake Matthews with a first-round knockout in July last year.
Lee rebounded after losing to Leonardo Santos at UFC #194 by winning his last five fights and his confidence is always sky high prior to the fight.
Lee does possess a more well-rounded game compared to Ferguson. His submission rate is at 50 percent and he has the ability to grind away at opponents before putting them away late.
We have a big concern over his weight cut – not that he won’t make weight, but in what condition that wasting will leave him. This is a huge fight and you don’t want to be coming into it malnourished. Lee will need all of his explosive power to put away Ferguson so the weigh in will hold the key.
Ferguson vs. Lee fight prediction
Ferguson is a dynamic fighter who probably doesn’t get enough credit as being one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC. His record speaks for itself and we believe Kevin Lee will be underdone coming into this fight. The occasion will get to the younger fighter and Ferguson will take advantage of this. We think Ferguson will win the fight outright at 4.9, but there’s better value with a win via KO, TKO, DQ or submission at 15/4. He’s a finisher and we can’t see Lee holding up for five rounds at the same Ferguson will no doubt push.