While it might not do blockbuster business, next weekend’s UFC 209 is a massive card for hardcore MMA fans. Headlined by a pair of very intriguing title conflicts, the card also includes plenty of fan favorites, and several of the more highly regarded prospects on the roster right now. The main event will be the welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Their battle on the massive UFC 205 card turned out to be a much better competition than many anticipated, end in a vast majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the struggle during the first and fourth rounds. But, Thompson was able to back him against the cage for long stretches of the middle rounds, and although he didn’t achieve much once there that he took these rounds. The fifth saw Thompson open up on a weary Woodley and end the struggle on a solid note, but it had been only enough to get him back level on two scorecards. As Woodley and Thompson failed at UFC 205, the co-main occasion could steal the show as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson features just two of the fighters in the division who’ve taken the long road to their title shots. Nurmagomedov is currently 8-0 within the Octagon and 24-0 entire in his career. He has been exploited for big things considering entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of severe injuries, finally seems always fit and is favored to win the buckle on March 4th. Ferguson has witnessed his own bumps in the road on the road to this particular shot. After winning the 13th season of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he scored three successive wins. He dropped a decision to Michael Johnson in 2012 that just stopped his sanity for an instant. Since then, he’s reeled off nine consecutive wins against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Josh Thomson, consistently putting on must-see struggles. The combination of Nurmagomedov’s dominance and Ferguson’s high-paced, all-action strategy makes their bout of the best bookings in the UFC in some time, and almost makes you forget that there’s a man out there holding the UFC lightweight name who appears to possess no desire to defend it. The main card of UFC 209 also features a heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. The two fought DREAM back in 2008 under far different conditions. Overeem was just beginning his transformation to Ubereem, while Hunt’s devotion to the game was about based on Mario Yamasaki’s want to prevent fights punctually. Both men are a lot of fighters at this point, as Overeem has adopted a far more conservative style and Hunt has rounded out his game significantly. In their first battle, Overeem immediately took Hunt down and filed him, but we have not seen a lot of his offensive fighting game lately. Will this battle mark its recurrence, or will the K-1 Grand Prix champions engage on the toes? Rounding out the most important card, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans makes his long-awaited middleweight debut against the always surprising Dan Kelly. The currently 37-year-old Evans is 2-4 in his last six, and has not won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 after this year, has impressed in his UFC conduct — although the level of competition has been a far cry from what Evans could have offered in his prime — heading 5-1 despite being the betting underdog in every one of his UFC outings. Finally, among the rising stars at lightweight gets another chance to show off his striking, although from a technical perspective this may be his stiffest test yet on the feet. Lando Vannata stormed into the UFC, almost upsetting Tony Ferguson on short notice in his introduction, then scoring the popular choice for 2016’s knockout of the year against John Makdessi. He will be facing an underrated opponent in David Teymur, who has a set of TKO wins on his UFC restart after breaking into the organization via TUF. The undercard also has some fights to keep your eyes , as undefeated prospects Mirsad Bektic, Luke Sanders, Paul’The Bear Jew’ Craig, and Tyson Pedro create their yields. The latter two are paired using a light heavyweight division which desperately requires fighters to grow up the ranks. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional evaluations from Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.
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