MMA Forethought: UFC 209
*Updated with removal of Ferguson vs. Nurmagomedov*
As awesome as UFC 205 was it did leave some uncertainty in the UFC. Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson’s match ended in a majority draw and when Conor McGregor won the lightweight title from Eddie Alvarez, he went on leave. This caused the UFC to go into interim title mode, as they do when any division gets affected by a champion unable to defend their title.**
This brings mixed martial arts (MMA) fans to the main and co-main event of UFC 209. Woodley and Thompson will go at it once again to leave no questions as to who the welterweight kingpin is along with the numbers one and two lightweights, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson fighting for the interim title.
With them on the main card are some great fights and Frontproof Media will attempt to give some forethought on how the fights can go down.
Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs Stephen Thompson (13-1-1)
The first fight was tough for both fighters. Woodley did manage to land his power shots and Thompson was able to work some of his strikes in too. This time having drawn blood from each other before, both men know what to expect. Thompson seems to have been training at mid-range in preparation for Woodley, not allowing for space for any takedowns while pressuring with strikes. If he hurts Woodley, he could get a TKO win but a decision is more likely.
On the other hand, Woodley knows he's stronger than Thompson and if he does more of the same from their first fight with more frequency he could end the fight in the championship rounds. That seems more likely to happen considering the first match and that's the pick for this one. Woodley by TKO
**Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs Tony Ferguson (23-3): Cancelled as of 2pm EST due to Nurmagomedov's hospitalization the morning of weigh-ins. See statement from the UFC here.
Rashad Evans (19-5-1) vs. Daniel Kelly (12-1)
Evans has had a hard time returning to action since his layoff due to needing surgery. Since his return, he has been 0-2 and is looking for a win. The wins he holds is a “who’s who” in MMA and for Skelly, a win over Evans could mean new opportunities for the light heavyweight. Skelly has won his last three fights with the most notable win being over Antonio Carlos Jr. Most his wins come by way of submission and Evans has not been submitted since beginning his pro MMA career. Unless Evans fights in the way most fans remember him for Skelly will likely earn a decision victory.
David Teymur (5-1) vs. Lando Vannata (9-1)
The lightweight division in the UFC has always been one of the most exciting to watch. Both Teymur and Vannata are no exception as both men are coming off of wins in their UFC careers. Most of Teymur’s wins are by way of knockout and Vannata is coming off a “KO of the year” win himself with his first round finish of John Makdessi. While both men hold impressive records, the level of competition might say a little more about who wins at UFC 209, Vannata’s only loss comes to the number two lightweight in the division. He may earn the win so he can face “El Cuy Cuy” in the near future.
Mark Hunt (12-10-1) vs. Alistair Overeem (41-15)
This is the first fight on the main card and will likely not see all three rounds. Both men come from a striking background and hold many wins by way of KO/TKO. Looking for a knockout may seem like the obvious game plan for both fighters but the man most comfortable outside of his comfort zone will likely pull off the win. Overeem has a guillotine choke that earned him nine of his 17 wins by submission. If Hunt can’t land one of his damaging strikes, this could be Overeem’s fight to win by submission or decision.
What makes UFC 209 unique is its connection to the results of UFC 205. The winner of the co-main event is likely to face Conor McGregor before the end of 2017 to unify the lightweight title. Whoever the welterweight champ is by the end of the night will likely have to face the winner of Demian Maia and Jorge Masvidal in the future which makes for a great fight regardless of the outcome. UFC 209 is definitely a must see card for fans of the UFC and MMA altogether.