Before the weigh-ins on March 3rd, UFC 209 on paper was pure fireworks. However, an illness due to a rough weigh cut from Khabib Nurmagomedov scrapped the Interim Lightweight Title fight against Tony Ferguson. A fight that a majority of fans including me was looking forward to the most. A bummer, but the show must go!
Headlining the card is a rematch between Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. The first fight between the two took place at UFC 205 at MSG, ending in a majority draw. It was a wild fight, with both men having there moments, but Woodley landing the best shots. In the fourth round of the fight, Woodley dropped Thompson and had him in a tight guillotine choke, only for Thompson to somehow manage to escape. It was an inspirational moment, as Thompson showed real heart and toughness to survive.
Co-Headlining the card, lightweight sensation Lando Vannata takes on David Teymur. Due to the Nurmagomedov against Ferguson fight getting scrapped, this fight was thus elevated to this status. Vannata, is coming off a highlight reel knockout, one in which cemented that he’s not only a prospect, but quickly becoming one of the most exciting fighters to watch. As for Teymur, the Swede looks to build off his two-fight win streak, one in which knocked out both fighters. This is a bout not to miss, as I’m expecting an all out brawl!
Anyways, let’s just get to the predictions!
UFC 209 Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
170 lbs.: Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson – The mother load! I’m super pumped for this rematch, as these two men are truly some of the best competitors in the UFC period! The first fight saw a back and forth bout, but I believe Woodley was the one who landed the better shots. He dropped Thompson several times, but kudos to Thompson for taking the shots and surviving.
In this fight, there will be some adjustments. I think for one, Thompson is going to kick more often. He shied away from one of the best elements of his striking, fearing that Woodley would catch a leg and take him down. He can’t think eliminate his strength like he did last fight. For Woodley, he needs to pressure Thompson more. Get Thompson back pedaling and force him to be uncomfortable. Mix in more wrestling too, as you are by far the more superior wrestler.
As for a prediction, I’ve got Thompson. Like I just mentioned, he barely used leg kicks in the first fight. It cost him from damaging and perhaps finishing Woodley. Instead he engaged in strictly a boxing match, often getting cracked by Woodley. That was a mistake and I’m sure he’s going use all of his arsenal in this fight. Also, Thompson needs to drag this fight into the deeper rounds too, as Woodley has been known to gas. Woodley held up fine in the five round fight, but his muscular build takes more energy and often saps him. So with that, I got Thompson taking this via TKO in the 4th round.
155 lbs.: Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur – Now, I know Teymur is skilled and he’s got what it takes to make this an all out war. But to me, this seems like a sacrifice to the highlight reel of Vannata. He’s just so unpredictable and if he sharpens up his striking defense, he’s no doubt going to be a Lightweight contender within the next year. His dynamic striking is just pure excitement and I firmly believe, he’s going to knock out Teymur with something spectacular. Perhaps a cartwheel kick or a flying knee?
185 lbs.: Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Kelly – Fun fight, but I got Evans. I feel too for picking Evans here, as I’ve always been dismissive of Kelly. I just can’t believe a guy with erratic striking and only superior judo has had as much success as him. He’s also super slow and no where near an athlete. Evans, has moved down to the Middleweight division after a slump at Light Heavyweight. A smart move and a smart first fight against the likes of Kelly. He should be 4x times faster and easily outbox Kelly on the feet. He should avoid grappling Kelly, but I could see some timely takedowns and ground and pound being effective en route to a decision victory.
115 lbs.: Amanda Cooper vs. Cynthia Calvillo – I have little clue to who these women are, but the coin flip went to Calvillo via decision.
265 lbs.: Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt – What a fight! This one should be fireworks, as these two sluggers will collide in a rematch. In the first bout, Overeem was able to get Hunt to the ground where he submitted him. That was bout however was back in 2008, so as far as I’m concerned, these are two brand new fighters. Hunt, most recently fought Brock Lesnar at UFC 200. A fight in which Lesnar dominated with his superior wrestling. However, Lesnar would fail a drug test, thus turning the result into a no contest. As for Overeem, his most recent bout was for the Heavyweight title at UFC 203 against Stipe Miocic. Overeem had Miocic rocked and in serious trouble, but failed to capitalize. Overeem would get get knocked out later in round. As for a prediction, I have Hunt. Despite Overeem’s new style of distance, which I really like, he still has been oft rocked in fights. Against Hunt, a guy who’s got an iron chin and is heavy handed, Overeem’s chin will be very susceptible. Of course, these are Heavyweights and anything can happen, but I got Hunt taking the rematch via KO!2
UFC 209 Prelims on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Marcin Tybura vs. Luis Henrique da Silva – At first I thought Henrique da Silva was a legit Heavyweight prospect, but lately he’s looked like a dud. His cardio is brutal, which is absolutely why I’m not picking him. Tybura on the other hand has steadily progressed from a boring grinder, to a guy who’s got some legit striking skills. So with that, I got Tybura by dominant decision!
145 lbs.: Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins – Bektic is one of the hottest prospects out there, but this is a really tough fight. The odds honestly don’t do it justice, as the oddsmakers have Bektic as 7/1 favorite. I think they forget that Elkins is the epitome of a fighter. He’s got a huge heart, always enduring punishment, but continuing to come forward. I mean, if there was a Mount Rushmore based on toughness, he’s be in there. However, toughness and surviving doesn’t always win fights. As for a prediction, I have Bektic. His grappling neutralizes Elkins, who is heavily based on grappling. On the feet Elkins isn’t anything special, but Bektic is fast and should pick him apart. So with that, I have Bektic via decision.
135 lbs.: Iura Alcantara vs. Luke Sanders – This is a really tough call, as I think Sanders is a legit prospect in the division. I mean, the dude can crack and he’s physically strong, which is something that Alcantara has struggled with before. It’s hard to pick Alcantara too, as one fight, his amazing striking and grappling skills are on display and then another fight, he gasses and looks like a shell of himself. It’s really odd, but I’m banking on the extremely talented Alcantara to win this via decision.
265 lbs.: Mark Godbeer vs. Daniel Spitz – I remember seeing Godbeer fight Cheick Kongo in Bellator and his grappling was elementary at best. However despite the grappling criticism, I know knowing of Spitz, therefore I’m not picking him. So with that, I got Godbeer via knockout.
UFC 209 Prelims on Fight Pass (7:00 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Tyson Pedro vs. Paul Craig – Seen both fight, but only once each. That sample size is rough, but I’m going to side with Craig. He defeated Brandon Thatch in his UFC debut by submission which is impressive despite Thatch’s continued downfall. So with that, I got Craig via submission.
135 lbs.: Albert Morales vs. Andre Soukhamthath – Never heard of Soukhamthath, but I’ve seen Morales fight before. He actually looked pretty good against Thomas Almeida, tagging him several time. His relentless pressure and strikes that comes in swarms is going to seal this one up early. Morales via KO!