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While it may not do blockbuster business, next weekend’s UFC 209 is a massive card for hardcore MMA fans. Headlined by a pair of very intriguing title fights, the card also includes lots of fan favorites, and several of the more 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 turned out to be a far better competition than many expected, end in a vast majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the struggle throughout the first and fourth rounds. But, Thompson was able to back him against the cage for long stretches of the rounds, and even though he didn’t accomplish much once there he took those rounds. The fifth saw Thompson open up on a tired Woodley and end the struggle on a strong note, but it had been only enough to get him back level on two scorecards. Just as Woodley and Thompson failed at UFC 205, the co-main event could steal the show as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson features two of those fighters in the division who have taken the long road to their title shots. Nurmagomedov is now 8-0 inside the Octagon and 24-0 overall in his career. He’s been exploited for big things since entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of serious harms, finally seems always fit and is favored to win the buckle on March 4th. Ferguson has seen his own lumps in the road on the road to this particular shot. After winning the 13th year of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he scored three successive wins. He fell a choice to Michael Johnson in 2012 that just stopped his sanity for an instant. Ever since then, he has reeled off nine consecutive wins against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Josh Thomson, always putting on must-see fights. The combo of both Nurmagomedov’s dominance and Ferguson’s high-paced, all-action approach makes their bout of the best bookings at the UFC in some time, and almost makes you forget that there is a guy out there holding the UFC lightweight name who seems to possess no desire to defend it. The principal card of UFC 209 additionally offers a heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. Both fought in DREAM back in 2008 under a variety of conditions. Overeem was just beginning his transformation to Ubereem, while Hunt’s commitment to the sport was about in line with Mario Yamasaki’s desire to stop fights on time. Both men are a lot of fighters in this point, as Overeem has embraced a far more conservative fashion and Hunt has rounded out his game considerably. In their first fight, Overeem quickly took Hunt down and submitted him, but we haven’t seen too much of his offensive fighting game recently. Will this fight mark its return, or will the K-1 Grand Prix champions engage on the feet? Rounding out the main card, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans makes his long-awaited middleweight debut against the always surprising Dan Kelly. The currently 37-year-old Evans is 2-4 in his last six, and has not won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 later this year, has impressed in his UFC run — although the level of competition has been a far cry from what Evans could have offered within his prime — heading 5-1 despite being the betting underdog in every one of his UFC outings. Finally, among the rising stars at lightweight gets the chance to show off his striking, although from a technical perspective this might 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 this year against John Makdessi. He’ll be confronting an underrated opponent in David Teymur, who has a set of TKO wins on his UFC resume after breaking into the organization through TUF. The undercard also has some struggles to keep your eyes , as undefeated prospects Mirsad Bektic, Luke Sanders, Paul’The Bear Jew’ Craig, and Tyson Pedro make their yields. Both are paired using a light heavyweight division which desperately requires fighters to grow up the rankings. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional evaluations from Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.

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