Championship Impact in Vegas

ufc-216UFC 216 was really the story of two champions although one never showed up to the fight.

Conor McGregor is the biggest name in the sport and there is no question about that a he is the single biggest draw in the UFC.

He also happens to be the lightweight champion of the UFC and yet for some, his reign as a champion is somewhat misleading.

There is a long-standing thought that nobody can really be considered a champion until they defend their belt.

Winning the belt is a major accomplishment but defending and taking on all contenders is the true test of a champion.

Not until an entire division is cleared out can these fighters then look to major fights that blur the lines of divisions.

As good as McGregor has been and as big a name as he has created, he has yet to defend his title.

In fact, despite winning two titles he has yet to actually have a title defence in his career and to many that is his biggest issue.

Still, he remains the biggest name in the sport and everyone wonders what is next for the lightweight champion and if he will finally defend his belt and be considered a true champion.

On the other side of the spectrum is Demetrious Johnson who is the polar opposite of McGregor in almost every way.

Unlike McGregor who looks for the biggest fight that will boost his name, Johnson looks to clean out an entire division.

He is the most dominant champion in the UFC and heading into UFC 216 he was tied with Anderson Silva for the most consecutive title defences in UFC history.

Yet also unlike McGregor, he fails to be a big draw with not many tuning in to watch the flyweight champion fight.

Although McGregor didn’t attend UFC 216 his influence was still well-represented while his opposite was there representing himself.

At UFC 216 Johnson was looking to take the next step towards potentially being a bigger draw in becoming a UFC record holder.

He would take on Ray Borg for a chance to defend his belt for the 11th time which would put him alone at the top of the list.

Borg came into the fight looking to shock the MMA world, and although not many other people would care a win by Borg would be possibly the biggest upset in UFC history.

For Borg, the fight started out well enough as he was holding his own throughout the first couple of rounds.

Johnson just stayed the same the whole time though and that has always been his greatest strength as he never let anything bother him.

As the fight moved on the champion continued to pile on the challenger and the fight slipped away from Borg as the minutes moved on.

Then in the fifth round, Johnson looked to suplex Borg only to let it go while Borg was in the air and grab his arm.

By the time they landed Borg’s arm was trapped and the fight was over with Johnson earning the armbar win and breaking the UFC record.

After that win, it seems like Johnson could do anything as there are few challengers left in the flyweight division and moving up to the bantamweight division could be a chance.

Although McGregor didn’t show up to UFC 216 his presence was felt as his lack of title defences forced two lightweights to fight for an interim title with a potential date with McGregor in the future.

Tony Ferguson has been long listed as one of the top contenders in the division and he has been looking for a fight against the champion for a long time.mma-sidebar.fw

Without that chance, he wanted to stay active and took an interim title fight against the other big name in Khabib Nurmagomedov that was to determine the next challenger.

That fight was cancelled when Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after missing weight and so Ferguson took another interim belt fight against a young up and coming Kevin Lee.

In terms of the potential star power, Lee has it all as he might be able to match McGregor in the talking before a fight.

He was looking to get that shot at McGregor but needed that interim title to get the reason and tried to do it at UFC 216.

It was a good matchup between the two as both fighters landed plenty of shots in the first few rounds.

Lee was getting tired though while Ferguson was remaining the same making things a lot more difficult.

Eventually, Lee began taking the fight to the ground where he had some success and in the third round, Ferguson began looking for the finish.

After locking in an armbar that Lee escaped, Ferguson locked in a triangle from the bottom and forced Lee to tap out.

The loss is far from the end for Lee as he is only 25 years old and has a lot longer of a career in store.

Ferguson took the interim belt and rose to the point that he had been aiming for in the last three years.

The only thing left for Ferguson is to fight for the title but there are doubts about whether or not McGregor will want to fight Ferguson.

It seems like the clear next step for the division but McGregor has always been a fighter looking for the next big payday and Ferguson doesn’t really provide that.

Two champions had their influence on the night and both have been polar opposites that will likely only continue after UFC 216.

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