The UFC returns to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 209. The main event is a rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson for Woodley’s welterweight title. Tyron Woodley was able to retain his title after their first fight ended in a majority draw at UFC 205.
The loaded main card rounds out with the return of Rashad Evans taking on Daniel Kelly in a battle of middleweights, then we head back to 155 for Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur and in the heavyweight division Mark Hunt takes on Alistair Overeem.
The early prelims will air on Fight Pass starting at 5:30 PM CT, with Fox Sports 1 taking over at 7 PM CT for the prelims. The main card airs on PPV beginning at 9 PM CT.
Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. Stephen Thompson (13-1-1) – Welterweight 170 lbs.
Current Odds: Thompson -145; Woodley +115
The first fight between these two was ridiculously close. I was surprised to see Woodley stand and trade with Thompson instead of working in more takedown attempts to try and get the fight to the ground. He only took him down once the entire fight. While Woodley hits like a Mack truck, it’s his wrestling that sets him apart and keeps his opponents guessing. Of his 16 career wins, 6 have come via KO/TKO and 5 by submission. Prior to the first fight against Thompson, Tyron was 5-1, with 4 of the wins coming by way of KO/TKO.
Stephen Thompson is an excellent striker and prefers to keep fights on the feet. 7 of his 13 career wins have come via KO/TKO. He keeps distance well and works at a higher pace which will work in his favor once again if the fight stays standing. The only problem with his desire to stand is he can sometimes get caught with big shots while in the pocket, and getting caught by Woodley will put him to sleep.
I expect Woodley to mix in more takedown attempts and be overall more aggressive. While I think he’ll work at a quicker pace, I worry he might tire in the latter rounds. If he has success taking the fight to the ground I can see him finishing Thompson or grinding out a UD. If Thompson is successful in defending Woodley’s takedown attempts forcing him to stand for five rounds he will win the fight. I just don’t see Thompson having that type of success over a five round fight again.
Pick: Woodley by decision
Rashad Evans (24-5-1) vs. Daniel Kelly (12-1) – Middleweight 185 lbs.
Current Odds: Evans; -225; Kelly +175
After not getting medically cleared to fight his previous two fights and injuries, Rashad Evans is finally getting back inside the cage. Rashad hasn’t won a fight since he finished Chael Sonnen at UFC 167. Since that fight he’s 0-2, losing to Ryan Bader at UFC 192 and Glover Teixeira at UFC on FOX 19. Once a serious threat both standing and on the ground, age and injuries have slowed Evans down. His ability to score takedowns has diminished forcing him to have to stand and trade against opponents he normally wouldn’t have to. It will be interesting to see how the move down to 185 affects him.
After suffering the first loss of his career against Sam Alvey at UFC Fight Night 65, Dan Kelly has run off three straight wins. The latest coming by decision over Chris Camozzi at UFC Fight Night 101. While he doesn’t have the speed of Ryan Bader or the power of Glover Teixeira, he’s still a treat and someone Evans shouldn’t be looking past.
Kelly is an effective striker who works extremely well in the clinch. If he can push the pace and get inside, which Rashad struggles with, his odds of pulling off the upset increases. Evans at 185 should hold the advantage in speed and quickness. Dan Kelly will give Evans all he can handle but he just isn’t on the same level as Rashad. Evans will have success getting the fight to the ground and controlling Kelly from top position earning him the decision.
Pick: Evans by decision
Lando Vannata (9-1) vs. David Teymur (5-1) – Lightweight 155 lbs.
Current Odds: Vannata -400; Teymur +300
Lando Vannata is 1-1 under the UFC banner. He lost his debut to Tony Ferguson at UFC Fight Night 91, but returned at UFC 206 and delivered a highlight reel knockout to John Makdessi. Vannata is a finisher with 8 of his 9 wins by submission or KO/TKO. Vannata is very well-rounded fighter. He’s an excellent striker with big power while working at a fast pace. While his ground game isn’t as good as his stand up, it’s still very good.
After losing his pro debut to Mattias Rosenlind, David Teymur has rattled off 5 straight wins. His most recent win came at UFC Fight Night 92 against Jason Novelli. Teymur is primarily a striker who likes to keep his fights on the feet. Four of his five wins came via KO/TKO.
Both fighters are finishers so this should be an exciting fight. Teymur will want to keep the fight standing and that suits Vannata just fine. Vannata has the advantage regardless of where the fight goes. He’ll mix up his offense and throw in some takedowns keeping Teymur off balance leading to a UD.
Pick: Vannata by decision
Alistar Overeem (41-15, 1 NC) vs. Mark Hunt (12-11-1) – Heavyweight 265 lbs.
Current Odds: Overeem -140; Hunt +110
MMA veteran Alistair Overeem takes on Mark Hunt in a battle of heavyweights. A win here by either fighter still keeps them a few wins away from a title shot. Regardless of the stakes I always enjoy watching heavyweight fights due to their unpredictability.
Overeem submitted Hunt back in 2008 at Dream 5 in the midst of an eleven fight winning streak. More recently Overeem was on a four fight win streak until he was stopped by Stipe Miocic in his bid to become heavyweight champion at UFC 203. Overeem has been knocked out four times in his last nine fights so I’m curious to see how his suspect chin holds up against the huge power of Hunt.
Mark Hunt dropped a decision to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 which was later changed to a no-contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission due to Lesnar failing multiple drug tests. Prior to that fight Hunt was on a two fight winning beating Antonio Silva at UFC 193 and Frank Mir at UFC Fight Night 85.
This fight should play out entirely on the feet. Both fighters have lost a step or two and Overeem can’t take a punch like he used to. I expect Hunt to try and close distance and stalk Overeem down looking to land his devastating right hand. Overeem still moves pretty well at this stage in his career so I see him being able to get in and out without the fear of Hunt chasing him down. Hunt is an excellent counter-puncher so there is the possibility he catches Overeem and puts him to sleep. Ultimately I like Mark Hunt’s power and more importantly, his chin in this one.
Pick: Hunt by TKO
Henrique over Tybura
Bektic over Elkins
Alcantara over Sanders
Spitz over Godbeer
Craig over Pedro
Calvillo over Cooper (moved to main card)
Morales over Soukhamthath
Enjoy the fights!
NOW CHECK OUT THIS OTHER UFC 209 PREVIEW ARTICLE: UFC 209 PRIMER: Woodley vs. Thompson for Welterweight Title, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson, Overeem vs. Hunt, Rashad Evans