Fighters to Watch at UFC 216

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back in Las Vegas, NV with UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee. The 13-fight card is scheduled to kick off with preliminary action on UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 p.m. ET. Prelims will continue on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m., with the main card getting going on on Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. If interested in wagering on any bouts for these fight cards, all betting lines are made available at Several Bookmakers.

Here are my Fighters to Watch at UFC 216:

Lando Vannata

Vannata hit the scene with a short notice UFC debut against Tony Ferguson, being a massive underdog heading into the bout, where he nearly finished “El Cucuy” in the opening frame until running out of gas and being submitted in the second round. After getting his first taste of professional mixed martial arts defeat, he took on veteran John Makdessi and defeated the Lebanese-Canadian via first round knockout in highlight reel fashion. In his next and most recent outing at UFC 209 seven months ago, he took on David Teymur and lost the bout via unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards following three entertaining rounds of action that earned the pair an extra $50,000 for ‘Fight of the Night’ honors. Teymur put a bit of a stop to the Jackson-Wink trained fighter’s hype train, but this Saturday night at UFC 216, he has the chance to get back on track when he takes on Southern California’s Bobby “King” Green. Vannata will have his hands full, as the Strikeforce veteran is coming off a three fight losing streak and has his back against the wall heading into this one. Vannata is certainly a fan favorite fighter, so I know everyone will be tuned into FOX Sports 1 to see if he will land another highlight reel finish. If he does, expect him to be re-promoted back up to┬áthe Pay Per View main card his next time out.

Pearl Gonzalez

Gonzalez made her promotional debut against undefeated surging strawweight prospect Cynthia Calvillo at UFC 210 six months ago and was defeated by the Team Alpha Male product via rear naked choke submission in the third and final round of their Pay Per View main card contest. For her second outing inside the Octagon, Gonzalez finds herself demoted to the prelims, where she will be welcoming UFC newcomer Poliana Botelho to the Octagon. Though Calvillo proved to ultimately be too much, Gonzalez had her moments in that bout, showed great heart and won over many fans in defeat. The Southern Californian again finds herself playing the role of underdog heading into her second UFC bout against Botelho, and fight fans will be tuning in to see if she manages to come out on top this time around. It is a preliminary card scrap that shouldn’t be missed, as it could be the dark horse for the evening’s ‘Fight of the Night’ honors.

Magomed Bibulatov

Bibulatov made his UFC debut against fellow promotional newcomer Jenel Lausa at UFC 210 six months ago and defeated him via unanimous decision. The undefeated Chechnyan will be looking to stay undefeated this Saturday night when he takes on arguably the stiffest test of his professional mixed martial arts career in former title challenger John Moraga. An impressive victory over Moraga would immediately put Bibulatov right in the mix of things and he would only be another win or two away from earning a title show of his own. He is certainly a fighter to keep an eye on this Saturday, as he could be challenging for the gold around┬áthis time next year in what is the UFC’s razor thin flyweight division.

Written by Gabe Killian

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