UFC 209 is an absolutely stacked card even after the loss of Kabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson, and it has one of the most anticipated rematches in the history of the sport with Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley vs. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Woodley vs. Thompson happened back in November during UFC 205 where the two fighters got a Fight of the Night bonus for the welterweight title fight.
The first time the two met in the octagon, even though there was nearly a stoppage in the fourth round, the outcome was a draw. Now, almost four months later, the two are meeting for the second time and hope to settle the score. Both Woodley and Thompson have claimed to make the improvements needed, and it is set to be a very memorable fight.
Even though Woodley is the current champion, I am leaning towards Wonderboy for this fight. Woodley has a tendency to put his back up against the cage and not utilize his wrestling during his fights. This is exactly why he lost a unanimous decision to Rory MacDonald (a fighter that Wonderboy beat to get a title shot) back in 2014. Woodley can be very explosive and has some unnatural one-punch knockout power, but he doesn’t use it as often as he should.
Wonderboy however has a reach advantage, even when he isn’t throwing kicks. I think Wonderboy will be mainly boxing tonight, because during their first fight he threw a kick that allowed Woodley to take him down and land elbows for the entirety of the first round.
If Wonderboy uses his boxing and manages his distance well, he can nullify Woodley’s power and stay far enough back that he won’t be easily taken down. This would be enough to either finish Tyron on the feet, or get a decision victory.
Prediction: Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson
Vannata v. Teymur
Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur is now the co-main event, due to Khabib Nurmagomedov having to pull out because of issues with his weight cut. This is set to be another very interesting fight. Since both Vannata and Teymur are exciting, high level strikers. Teymur was a competitor on TUF 22, where he won his elimination and preliminary fight, before losing in his quarter-final bout.
Vannata is coming off of a Knockout of the Night win bonus against John Makdessi at UFC 206, where Vannata landed a wheel kick in round one, and walked away from the unconscious Makdessi. Vannata also nearly finished Tony Ferguson, the current number one contender at lightweight.
I think that Vannata will easily win this fight, since he has the more creative striking and he has more power. Teymur has a chance, but he needs to pressure Vannata and not get caught by one of his power strikes. Vannata also has more experience at the highest level of fighting, which I think will net him the win tonight.
Prediction: Lando Vannata
Evans v. Kelly
Rashad Evans vs. Dan Kelly is not only an interesting match-up, it is also interesting because Evans wasn’t cleared to fight by two different athletic commissions, and it’s his first time fighting at middleweight. Dan Kelly is an older fighter that recently started his career in MMA. The Australian native is 39 years old, but he moves surprisingly fast and has power for a fighter that age.
Dan Kelly has everything he need to beat Rashad Evans. While Evans is a legend of the sport, since he claimed the light-heavyweight championship when it was the most stacked division in the UFC, he is also aging. He is coming off of a knockout loss to Glover Teixeira, and before UFC 205 he was not allowed to fight because of “an irregularity” shown in an MRI. He was also not cleared to fight in Ontario in UFC 206 for an undisclosed reason.
Dan Kelly, even though he is one of the oldest fighters in the UFC, is fresh as far as his career is concerned. He has the power to knockout Evans or take him down and out-wrestle him using his Judo.
Prediction: Dan Kelly
Cooper v. Calvillo
Amanda Cooper vs. Cynthia Calvillo is an important fight for the women’s strawweight division. Both are rising prospects in a pretty shallow division, so the outcome could mean a lot for future title contenders.
Cooper was a competitor on TUF 23, where she made it to the finale. She was submitted by Tatiana Suarez, but Cooper was the more rounded fighter. During the season of TUF, Cooper showed off her boxing skills and her wrestling. Cooper is coming off of a unanimous decision win over Anna Elmose.
Cynthia Calvillo however is currently undefeated, and is one of the few strawweights with power, since two of her three victories are by TKO. This is her UFC debut, so nerves are definitely something to take into account here.
Amanda Cooper is the more well-rounded fighter, and I believe she will use her boxing and wrestling skills to beat Calvillo. Calvillo definitely has a chance though, and Cooper will need to watch out for hard strikes if she wants to win.
Prediction: Amanda Cooper
Overeem v. Hunt
Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt is almost guaranteed to end in a knockout. The two heavyweights are some of the hardest hitters in the entire UFC. Overeem is coming off of a knockout loss to current UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, and Mark Hunt is coming off of a unanimous decision loss to Brock Lesnar, who was later found to have been on PED’s. The two have already fought once, back in Pride FC where Overeem nearly got knocked out before he submitted Hunt.
Alistair Overeem is probably the best striker in the entire division, since he was the K1 kickboxing champion. He has some very powerful kicks and has some insanely powerful knees. He also has an eight inch reach advantage over Hunt. However, Overeem has an incredibly weak chin for someone his size. 10 of his 15 losses are by KO/TKO.
Mark Hunt might be small for a heavyweight, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have power. Hunt was able to knock out Roy Nelson, who is known for just eating shots like pancakes. Hunt also has a very strong chin, with only four of his losses by KO/TKO, which is very rare for someone who has been fighting at heavyweight their entire career. Hunt is also very quick for someone who has his build and can be unpredictable in the octagon.
I think Mark Hunt will knock out Alistair Overeem. Unless Overeem can keep Mark Hunt at distance using his kicks and his hands, Hunt will close the distance and land easily.
Prediction: Mark Hunt
UFC 209 has some incredible potential for a fight card. A few of the fights can go either way and are bound to be incredibly exciting for hardcore fans and newcomers alike.