While it may not do blockbuster business, next weekend’s UFC 209 is a huge card for hardcore MMA fans. Headlined by a set of very intriguing title fights, the card also features plenty of fan favorites, and a number of the highly regarded prospects on the roster right now. The main event is going to be the welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Their struggle on the huge UFC 205 card proven to be a much better competition than many expected, ending in a vast majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the fight during the first and fourth rounds. But, Thompson was able to back him against the cage for long stretches of the rounds, and although he didn’t accomplish much once there 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 flat on two scorecards. As Woodley and Thompson did at UFC 205, the co-main occasion could steal the show as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson comprises two of the fighters in the branch who have taken the long road to their title shots. Nurmagomedov is currently 8-0 within the Octagon and 24-0 overall in his career. He has been tapped for large things since entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of serious harms, eventually seems consistently fit and is favored to win the belt on March 4th. Ferguson has witnessed his own bumps in the road on the way to this shot. After winning the 13th season of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he scored three consecutive wins. He dropped a choice to Michael Johnson in 2012 that just stopped his sanity for an instant. Ever since then, he has reeled off nine consecutive wins against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Josh Thomson, always putting on must-see fights. The combination of Nurmagomedov’s dominance and Ferguson’s high-paced, all-action strategy makes their bout of the best bookings at the UFC in a while, and almost makes you forget that there’s a man out there holding the UFC lightweight name who seems to possess no desire to defend it. The main card of UFC 209 also offers a heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. The two fought in DREAM back in 2008 under far different circumstances. Overeem was just beginning his transformation into Ubereem, while Hunt’s commitment to the game was about based on Mario Yamasaki’s want to stop fights on time. Both men are much different fighters at this time, as Overeem has embraced a much more conservative style and Hunt has rounded out his game considerably. In their first battle, Overeem quickly took Hunt down and filed him, but we have not seen a lot of his offensive grappling game recently. Will this battle mark its return, or will the K-1 Grand Prix winners participate on the toes? Rounding out the main 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 past six, and hasn’t won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 later this year, has impressed in his UFC run — despite the level of competition has been a far cry from what Evans would have provided in his prime — going 5-1 despite being the gambling underdog in each of his UFC outings. Finally, one of the rising stars at lightweight has the opportunity to show off his striking, although from a technical perspective this might be his stiffest test yet on the toes. Lando Vannata stormed into the UFC, almost upsetting Tony Ferguson on short note in his debut, and then scoring the favorite pick for 2016’s knockout of this year against John Makdessi. He will be facing an underrated opponent in David Teymur, with a pair of TKO wins on his UFC resume after breaking into the organization through TUF. The undercard also includes some fights to keep your eyes , as undefeated prospects Mirsad Bektic, Luke Sanders, Paul’The Bear Jew’ Craig, and Tyson Pedro create their yields. Both have been paired using a light heavyweight division which desperately needs fighters to grow up the rankings. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional evaluations against Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.
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