While it may not do blockbuster business, next weekend’s UFC 209 is a huge card for hardcore MMA fans. Headlined by a pair of quite intriguing title conflicts, the card also includes plenty of fan favorites, and several 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 battle on the massive UFC 205 card proven to be a much better contest than many expected, end in a vast majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the fight during the first and fourth rounds. However, Thompson was able to back him against the cage for long stretches of the middle rounds, and although he did not achieve much once there he took these rounds. The fifth saw Thompson open on a tired Woodley and finish the fight on a strong note, but it was only enough to get him back level on two scorecards. As Woodley and Thompson failed at UFC 205, the co-main event could steal the show here as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson comprises just two of the fighters in the branch who have taken the long road to their name shots. Nurmagomedov is now 8-0 within the Octagon and 24-0 overall in his career. He’s been exploited for large things since entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of serious harms, finally seems consistently fit and is favored to win the buckle on March 4th. Ferguson has seen his own lumps in the road on the road for this particular shot. After winning the 13th year of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he scored three successive wins. He fell a decision to Michael Johnson in 2012 that just halted his momentum for a moment. Ever since that time, he’s 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 approach makes their imaginations of the best bookings in the UFC in a while, and almost makes you forget that there’s a man out there holding the UFC lightweight title who seems to possess no desire to defend it. The main card of UFC 209 additionally features a heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. Both fought in DREAM back in 2008 under far different conditions. Overeem was only beginning his transformation to Ubereem, while Hunt’s commitment to the game was about based on Mario Yamasaki’s want to prevent fights punctually. Both guys are a lot of fighters in this time, 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 submitted him, but we haven’t seen a lot of his offensive fighting game recently. Will this battle mark its return, or will the K-1 Grand Prix champions engage on the toes? Rounding out the main card, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans makes his long-awaited middleweight debut against the constantly surprising Dan Kelly. The now 37-year-old Evans is 2-4 in his last six, and hasn’t won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 after this year, has impressed in his UFC conduct — despite the level of competition has been a far cry from what Evans could have provided within his prime — heading 5-1 despite being that the betting underdog in every one of his UFC outings. Finally, one of the rising stars at lightweight gets another opportunity to flaunt his striking, although from a technical standpoint this may be his stiffest test yet on the feet. Lando Vannata stormed into the UFC, almost upsetting Tony Ferguson on brief notice in his introduction, and then scoring the favorite pick for 2016’s knockout of the year against John Makdessi. He’ll be confronting an underrated opponent in David Teymur, who has a set of TKO wins his UFC resume after breaking into the business via TUF. The undercard also includes some struggles to keep your eyes , as undefeated prospects Mirsad Bektic, Luke Sanders, Paul’The Bear Jew’ Craig, and Tyson Pedro make their returns. The latter two have been paired using a light heavyweight division which desperately requires fighters to grow up the rankings. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional tests against Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.
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