Tony Ferguson Captures First Title, Demetrious Johnson Makes History
Two of the UFC’s most notable fighters finished their fights at UFC 216 in Las Vegas.
Updated: Oct. 8, 2017 • 7:02 PM ET
T-Mobile Arena was the sight of a historic UFC 216.
There’s a new UFC interim lightweight champion — and for Tony Ferguson, it has been a long time coming.
With his third-round submission victory over Kevin Lee in the main event at UFC 216 Saturday night, Ferguson likely solidified his position to be the first fighter to challenge Conor McGregor for a UFC title.
With the striking being nearly even and Lee landing three takedowns, Lee looked like he was up on the scorecards going into the third round. Nevertheless, despite possibly trailing on points, the fight went according to Ferguson’s plan.
“This went the exact way I wanted it to be,” Ferguson said in his post-fight Octagon interview. “I wanted him to come at me, use all that aggression, leave no energy for that submission.”
Lee had trouble making the 155-pound championship weight limit, initially weighing in at 156 pounds. However, the Nevada Athletic Commission awarded Lee an extra hour to make weight, and he successfully did so, albeit looking considerably drained afterward. During the fight, Lee looked like he would need a miracle to make it through five rounds, and he later revealed in his post-fight press conference that he had been battling a staph infection during the week leading up to the fight. After the fight, Lee also said he would move up to compete in the 170-pound division.
In his Octagon interview, Ferguson called out McGregor, calling him “McNuggets” followed by a row of expletives. There has been plenty of speculation about who McGregor might fight next.
“Nobody’s talked about (Nate) Diaz,” UFC President Dana White said in his post-fight press conference, referring to a possible McGregor vs. Diaz trilogy. “Diaz has never been talked about. That’s internet bullshit.
“Tony’s the interim champion, Conor’s the champion, it’s the fight that makes sense. It’s the fight that has to happen. It doesn’t ‘make sense’, it’s the fight that has to happen.”
Demetrious Johnson Makes History
In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson made history by successfully defending his flyweight title against Ray Borg. It was Johnson’s record-breaking 11th consecutive title defense, and not only did he win, he pulled off one of the most legendary submissions in MMA history.
In the fifth round, Johnson had his arms wrapped around Borg near the cage. With a shift in weight, Johnson executed a belly-to-back suplex, which he immediately transitioned into an armbar, mid-air. The historic move looked like a finishing move from a video game, and it cemented Johnson’s legacy as the best pound-for-pound fighter of all time.
The move is something that hasn’t been seen, but Johnson said it’s something he practices in training. There’s a reason it was a secret.
“I don’t show any of my training,” Johnson said in the post-fight press conference. “I just don’t do it. It’s none of your guys’ business what I’m doing in the gym.”
Johnson continued, “I kneed him, and then I shook his weight. I shifted his weight, and the when he shifted, he went back and threw an elbow and I was like, ‘got you’.
“And then that’s when I threw him up and then landed the armbar.”
Johnson earned Performance of the Night honors for the submission victory, while he and Ferguson capped a successful night of fights that spearheads the great fights we have to look forward to through the rest of 2017 and at the start of 2018.