Source: UFC

The UFC is running back one of the fight’s of 2016, with UFC 209: Woodley vs Thompson 2. The two fought out a very close majority draw at UFC 205 and will be looking to settle the score in Las Vegas.

In the co-main event, the Lightweight Interim Title goes on the line with Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on Tony Ferguson. Both fighters are on exceptional winning streaks and looking to push for the claim of the best Lightweight on the planet.

We take an in-depth look at the three main fights and will provide our predictions for every match-up, on what will be a spectacular night of fights.

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Tyron Woodley 16-3-1 vs Stephen Thompson 13-1-1

NICK: If you can’t get excited about a rematch where the first fight was an absolute worldy, you’re no friend of mine! There is no way this fight is completed without a range of exciting, hold your breathe moments. On one side you have the absolutely devastating power of Woodley. True knockout power that could put anyone in this division – or any other – to sleep in the blink of an eye. On the other hand, you have the beautifully aesthetic striking of Karate technician Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson. We saw a bit of everything in the first fight. Woodley found success with his wrestling when in top control on two occasions. Once after catching a sloppy low kick by Thompson, the other after viciously knocking Thomson to the canvas with a powerful right hand. He didn’t however, find success in using that wrestling to deliver the take-down. We saw Woodley have two very effective moments, closing the distance with his explosive right hand. We also saw Thompson have varied success over three rounds, avoiding Woodley’s right hand, negating the wrestling offense and picking Woodley apart with a diverse range of beautiful striking attacks. Both these guys are true students of the game and you’d be naive to think they will enter this fight with the same game plan they employed in fight one. I think Woodley will definitely want to look more to his competitive advantage with the wrestling. He’ll want to find a way to take the fight down at will, and impose that ground dominance that we saw at stages during the first fight. I also think Woodley would be wise to incorporate more leg kicks into his strategy. He threw one in the first fight with bad intentions and it severely hurt Thompson. He’s also shown in previous fights, that using his tremendous leg strength and power he can do significant damage to an opponents legs. With a fighter like Thompson that relies on speed, movement and a kick attack, this would be a very effective strategy for Woodley in causing damage and limiting the output of his opponent. In comparison Thompson will have watched the tape and worked out what he did right for the majority of the first fight, putting Woodley to the sword with his striking. He’ll be able to learn from this, adapt his approach and limit the opportunities for Woodley to find that right hand again. It’s a really hard fight to pick, but my heart is leaning towards Thompson. Unless Woodley can do some significant damage to end the fight or demand a 10-8, his output is just too limited for me to have confidence in him. Despite the odd scary moment, I think Thompson will overcome Woodley with his high tempo and precise striking. #andnew PREDICTION: Stephen Thompson via unanimous decision

ZAC: The first time these two welterweight’s fought, I was quietly confident that Wonderboy would get the job done. I thought his striking arsenal and control of distance would be too much for the champ and to some degree it was, but he just couldn’t put Woodley away. Early on Tyron worked his wrestling to great success and once he got Thompson down, he kept him there. The longer the fight went on, the more Woodley seemed content to stand and exchange with Wonderboy. He even caught him with a powerful punch. I think in the lead up to the rematch T-Wood will have a greater advantage after going 5 rounds with Wonderboy. He’s seen all of his looks, his different angles and stances, and he will realise he has a massive advantage when he gets him to the ground. The key for Thompson will be a higher output, avoid the big shots and the takedowns. That’s easier said than done against a power athlete like Woodley but not impossible. I think this will be another cracking fight but the path to victory is clearer for the champ than the challenger. PREDICTION: Woodley via TKO in Round 4

Khabib Nurmagomedov 24-0 vs Tony Ferguson 23-3

NICK: If there was a legitimate title on the line here, rather than an interim handout, it’s hard to argue that this wouldn’t be the main event. Before writing this, I saw a poll on twitter where 83% of respondents voted that THIS was the fight they were most excited about, as opposed to the main event. With good reason too. It is definitely one of the most exciting match-ups for some time, and for so many different reasons. Both guys are on very significant winning streaks. Khabib is undefeated in his 24 professional bouts (although the Tibau victory was VERY contentious), and Ferguson is on a very impressive nine fight win streak. Both guys are the clear contenders to McGregor’s title. Stylistically, this fight gets even more exciting. Khabib has been able to blast through just about everyone he has fought, Tibau aside, using his power wrestling. He absolutely bullies his opponents with brute strength, brilliant positioning and vicious ground and pound. In Tony Ferguson, he’s coming up against an incredibly talented 10th planet Jiu-Jitsu black belt. Ferguson has shown a tremendous ability to react and transition very quickly when faced with opponents rushing in on him. Time after time, he is able to find a home for his vice like a D’arce choke and pull out the victory. A lot of the grappling in this fight will be a thrilling chess-match between Nurmagomedov’s take-down attempts, his bullying for position and the silky smooth transitions and submissions of Ferguson. If for any reason Nurmagomedov can’t get the fight to the floor or is forced to change his game plan due to the dangers that Ferguson’s submissions pose, Ferguson will have the advantage on the feet. In past fights Nurmagomedov has had some success with aggression and brutal leaping left hands. However, he is severely lacking in some striking fundamentals and Ferguson definitely has the arsenal to take advantage of this. Ferguson will have the range advantage and he uses this very effectively with a wide range of kicks and punches. In a stand up battle, he would be able to pick Khabib apart. I think this fight is going to provide a topsy-tervy combination of all of the above scenarios. Khabib will find some success in the wrestle and Ferguson will catch him with some close submission attempts. Ferguson will workout how to negate the wrestling of Khabib, much like Tibau did in the fight I keep referring to, and then Ferguson will run away with it, out-pointing Khabib on the feet. PREDICTION: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision

ZAC: Now this is a fight! This is what the UFC was about in its glory days! Not the match-up’s that would sell the most pay-per-view buys, but putting together the best guys in the division and locking them in a cage to see who was the better fighter. That’s exactly what we have here. I could go on about their records and their winning streaks, but everyone know how good these two are and I’m glad they are fighting to see who gets the shot at the Lightweight king Conor McGregor. Stylistically this match up will be dynamite, Khabib is just a brute that throws everything, looking to do big damage and in the clinch his grappling is probably second to none. Tony Ferguson on the other hand is a craftsmen. His striking technique is creative, long and also very dangerous as we saw in his dominant win over former champion Rafael Dos Anjos. He has a black belt in 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu under Eddie Bravo which means he will have a super dangerous guard, something that Khabib hasn’t had to deal with before. He also has one of the best D’Arce chokes in the UFC, something that may come into play when defending takedowns that are a huge feature of his Khabib’s offense. Another advantage is his reach on the feet, that he uses effectively to keep opponents at bay. Khabib is super dangerous and you don’t get to be 24-0 without having a well-rounded game, but I just think Tony Ferguson will have the answers to all of his questions. PREDICTION: Tony Ferguson via unanimous decision

Rashad Evans 24-5-1 vs Dan Kelly 12-1

NICK: This may not be the biggest fight or best match-up on the card, but there’s quite a few things I’m really excited about here! First of all, how can you not get behind old man Dan Kelly and what he’s achieving in the UFC. Fight after fight, everyone writes him off only to be stunned by a tough showing and a surprise victory to the Aussie battler. As tough and impressive as he has been, and let’s not forget he is an olympic Judoka, he hasn’t fought anyone with the pedigree of Evans, period. Evans may have only won two of his last six, but those losses came to the elite fighters of the light heavyweight division. The drop to 185lb will definitely work in his favor too. He always looked like a smaller 205er, yet still manged to overpower most of his opponents. That significant power will be accentuated even further in the lower division. Dan Kelly has found a lot of success in bullying his opponents into his Judo range, something he won’t be able to do easily with Evans. While Kelly showed a significant improvement with his stand-up against Chris Camozzi, Evans has speed and power that Kelly has yet to face. The one fighter that came close to this was Sam Alvey, who battered Kelly into a quick TKO victory. I think this will very much be a welcoming party for Evans at 185, and we may just see that infamous Chuck Liddell knockout replayed here. Look for Evans to light Kelly up early, close it out with an overhand right, and look to a future bout with a Middleweight top 10.  PREDICTION: Rashad Evans via TKO in Round 1

ZAC: The perennial underdog takes on a former UFC Champion in this one, but a lot has changed since Rashad was the Light Heavyweight Champ. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Evans in the octagon. He’s had medical troubles and has been a late withdrawal from his last two fights. His opponent Dan Kelly is a 4 time Australian Judo Olympian, with the heart of a lion and isn’t phased about being the outsider every time he steps foot in the octagon – it actually motivates him. On paper when you look at the wins on his resume, this should be a walk in the park for Rashad, but that’s in the past and I think his best fights are there too. He better not be complacent in there with Kelly because the Aussie takes the fight to every opponent and leaves all he’s got in the gas tank. He’s the kind of guy you have to put away to beat. My head says Rashad should have the tools and experience to take out Kelly, but my heart is willing Kelly to pull off another upset and get the biggest win of his career. PREDICTION: Rashad Evans via unanimous decision

Alistair Overeem 41-15 vs Mark Hunt 12-11-1

NICK: The first rematch of the night is set to be a beauty! Eight and a half years removed from round one, we have two of the most destructive strikers in the heavyweight division going toe to toe. Overeem is coming fresh off a championship loss to Stipe Miocic, a fight in which he certainly had his moments. His opponent Mark Hunt has been battling the UFC outside of the octagon, after his No Contest with the now suspended Brock Lesnar. The first fight between the two resulted in a very quick submission victory to Alistair Overeem. It is important to note, this fight was 8 years ago and both fighters have evolved significantly since those days. Despite putting on somewhat of an impress run before his loss to Miocic with some crisp striking displays, Overeem has shown a very susceptible chin in his later years. It’s almost a guarantee that a weak shot will wobble him at the very least these days. On the flip side, Hunt has perhaps looked his most impressive in recent times. The unbelievable one punch KO power has been there in spades. His chin and toughness too. I think Overeem will definitely have his moments early, looking sharp and creative. However, Hunt will find a home for that vicious right hand and there is no way Overeem takes that and remains conscious.  PREDICTION: Mark Hunt via KO in Round 1

ZAC: I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, like the fight will be. Overeem is “Chinny”, and all Hunt has to do is close the distance, clip him and walk away. PREDICTION: Mark Hunt via “walk off” KO in Round 1

UFC 209

 NICKZAC
Tyron Woodley vs Stephen ThompsonThompsonWoodley
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony FergusonFergusonFerguson
Rashad Evans vs Dan KellyEvansEvans
Lando Vannata vs David TeymurVannataVannata
Alistair Overeem vs Mark HuntHuntHunt
Marcin Tybura vs Luis HenriqueTyburaTybura
Mirsad Bektic vs Darren ElkinsBekticBektic
Iuri Alcantara vs Luke SandersAlcantaraAlcantara
Mark Godbeer vs Daniel SpitzGodbeerSpitz
Tyson Pedro vs Paul CraigPedroPedro
Amanda Cooper vs Cynthia CalvilloCalvilloCooper
Albert Morales vs Andre SoukhamthathSoukhamthathMorales
SCORE TALLY:114104