This is the card that I’ve been waiting for since 2017 began. MMA fans have waited patiently for 2 months and sat through a horrible UFC 208 en route to finally getting a very solid top to bottom fight card that we will be treated to this week. The Wonderboy vs Woodley rematch is must see TV and everyone wants to see who’s winning streak is snapped when Khabib fights Tony for the interim-lightweight belt and hopefully the right to face Conor McGregor. The Overeem vs Hunt fight also has a lot of interesting story lines and we will get to see if Evans is truly finished or if he just had a couple bad fights when he faces Dan Kelly. All-in-all I am very excited for UFC 209, so let’s get into my picks.
Stephen Thompson vs Tyron Woodley
Woodley had to be gutted when he saw that he was once again the underdog coming into this fight. For a guy who desperately wants people to respect him as champion it has to really hurt him deep that people expect him to lose even after he claims to have won the first fight. Underdog territory is nowhere new for Woodley though. He was the underdog in the first fight with Wonderboy, was a slight dog against Lawler and was even the underdog in the initial lines against both Gastelum and Kim (although he became the favourite by closing in those cases).
I think the odds are spot on for this fight. If you rewatch the first fight between these two, Wonderboy was doing work on the feet and hurt Woodley on several occassions with his spinning attacks. It was just a lazy leg kick in the first round that resulted in an easy takedown for Woodley and I’m not sure that Wonderboy ever really recovered from that fully through the fight. If Wonderboy can keep the pressure on Woodley and continue to throw aggressive techniques, while keeping Woodley guessing he should be able to dictate the pace of the fight and keep Woodley’s back to the fence.
Of course, Woodley does have the power to end this fight if one of his haymakers lands, but I expect Wonderboy to adjust this fight and realize that if he is keeping distance while staying active he will be able to avoid the Woodley bomb while doing damage himself.
I like Wonderboy by finish in something like the third round in this fight.
Play: Wonderboy -152
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson
I’m still not sure how good Nurmagomedov is. He looked great against Michael Johnson getting takedowns with ease, but he still did not look good on the feet at all. If Ferguson can keep the pressure on him standing, and we know he can after he never let up in his RDA fight for 5 full rounds, I think he could overwhelm Khabib standing and land some very significant punches. If Khabib does get Tony to the ground, which is likely, Ferguson also has some great submission attacks from his back and he will stay active, which will force Khabib to be defensive even from top position.
Khabib is undefeated, but his record is definitely built up fighting lower level opponents. He really only has two big wins in my eyes. His decision win over RDA and his submission win over Michael Johnson. Also, let’s not forget that in his second fight against Gleison Tibau he won what was considered a robbery at the time (check MMADecisions.com). When Tony fought Tibau he destroyed him via first round submission.
I’m just not convinced when it comes to Khabib. That said, if he puts a beating on Ferguson I will definitely be a believer. Until then though I’m taking Ferguson.
Play: Ferguson +147
Mark Hunt vs Alistair Overeem
I’m leaning Overeem in this fight. He did get dropped quickly against Miocic, but Stipe is the top heavyweight in the world and may even have more power than Hunt. The difference that I see is that Stipe has far longer reach than Hunt. Overeem has showed that he can fight smart over the past few years of his career and I expect him to keep distance and throw a lot of kicks at Hunt. After piecing Hunt up a bit at range I think Overeem may close the distance and look for a finish.
Hunt always has a punchers chance in his fights, but he has struggled against technical strikers in the past.
This is definitely a heavyweight tilt that could go either way, but I have to lean Overeem in this matchup.
Play: Overeem -136
Lando Vannata vs David Teymur
Vannata is the real deal. He had that beautiful first round KO via wheel kick in his last fight and his striking is no joke. He does a lot of interesting techniques in his fights, but he’s agile and skilled enough to pull them off. Teymur is a solid prospect, but I don’t think he’s on the same level as Vannata at this point in time. Lando should get this win relatively easily.
Play: Vannata -240
Dan Kelly vs Rashad Evans
I’m a big Dan Kelly fan and I bet him in his last two fights (+180 and +400 underdogs) but I can’t pull the trigger here. Evans takedown defense is far superior to anyone Kelly has faced to this point in his UFC career and I do not expect him to be able to use his judo throws with much success against Rashad.
I’m also not convinced like so many people are saying that Rashad is washed up. He’s only on a 2 fight losing streak and those losses came against two top 5 fighters in the division in Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader.
Evans should be the far better fighter on the feet and if he can avoid getting into a judo fight with Kelly this is definitely Evans fight to lose.
It’s crazy to me that Kelly is a smaller dog against Evans than he was in his last 3 fights against Camozzi, Carlos Junior and Steve Montgomery.
Play: Evans -200
- Paul Craig -102
- Mark Godbeer -140