UFC 216 opened up with a pair of fights after some changes, with Brad Tavares battling Thales Leites, and John Moraga taking on prospect Magomed Bibulatov.
The UFC is back in Las Vegas on Pay-Per-View Saturday night with a solid card for fight fans. In the co-main event fans have a chance to witness history as the only flyweight champion in UFC history attempt to break the consecutive title defense record. Demetrious Johnson will take on challenger Ray Borg as he fights for combat sports immortality.
The main event of UFC 216 is a ticket to the big show as top lightweights Tony Ferguson and Kevin Lee fight for the interim lightweight title. The winner is surely at the front of the line of potential match-ups for UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor as he makes his return to MMA after a one-off bout in boxing.
The action kicked off with the UFC Fight Pass Prelims with three bouts. Unfortunately, Nik Lentz had problems making weight and was pulled from his bout against Will Brooks. That moved Matt Schnell vs. Marco Beltran to the FX prelims portion of the card.
Up first was a middleweight showdown between two longtime MMA veterans.
#13 Thales Leites vs. Brad Tavares
The story of the fight was the jab to leg kick combo from Tavares. From the start Tavares landed some piston-quick jabs to open up the leg kick. He went after the lead leg of Leites and chopped it so bad that in the third round Leites fell multiple times due to those kicks. In the third round, Tavares punched Leites’ mouth piece out of his mouth, Leites attempted to pick it up, but only the referee is allowed to stop the fight. Other than that it was a pretty clean unanimous decision win for Brad Tavares.
Winner: Brad Tavares def. Thales Leites via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
#11 John Moraga vs. #15 Magomed Bibulatov
The second fight of the night brought two top-15 flyweights facing off.
The fight started with John Moraga landing those calf kicks that The MMA Lab is known for, which limited Magomed Bibulatov’s movement. Bibulatov used some of his high kick techniques that he’s known for and even caught one of Moraga’s kicks which he attempted to use for a takedown. The fight ended when Moraga landed a brutal overhand right, followed by the head kick and finished off with a monster left hook that put the lights out. Put a stamp on it, John Moraga is back!
Winner: John Moraga def. Magomed Bibulatov via KO (Left Hook) in Round 1 (1:38)
NOTE: Due to Derrick Lewis’ last minute withdrawal, Walt Harris stepped up to Fabricio Werdum leaving the Fight Pass Prelims with only two fights.