UFC 209 tips: Best bets as Woodley and Thompson meet again in Vegas
Using his height and reach advantage, the challenged should come out on top in the welterweight title rematch...
Tyron Woodley v Stephen Thompson
Having escaped with a draw after his worst performance in almost five years, it is difficult to look past Thompson here in a rematch of UFC 205’s welterweight title fight.
The veteran kickboxer clearly lost confidence after taking some heavy punches from Woodley early on in that first meeting, and never really let his strikes go after that.
But Thompson’s physical advantages – namely his height and reach – give him a natural edge. At his best, he is too good for the champion.
He has shown that he can survive even after taking Woodley’s best shots, and will likely focus more on using his long arms to maintain distance and pick him off on this occasion.
Thompson is the favourite, and you can’t help but feel that Woodley’s best chance of beating the 34-year-old has already passed.
The last bout was relatively slow-paced with bursts of action, and the same should be expected here given that neither of the pair are high-volume fighters.
Thompson to win on points at is a wise bet.
Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson
This interim lightweight title bout is so evenly matched that it really deserves to headline a card of its own.
Nurmagomedov is undefeated in 24 fights, while Ferguson’s nine-fight winning streak is the longest in lightweight division history
The American is a slippery wrestler, a hugely creative striker and, at 5ft 11in, he will have a sizeable height and reach advantage in this bout.
But while Nurmagomedov is the more one-dimensional fighter, no one has been able to stop him from doing exactly what he does best.
He is a relentless takedown machine, capable of grabbing his opponent’s hips and slamming them to the mat at any point.
And when he does so, he smashes through guards and pounds or submits his way to victory. No one escapes.
Ferguson is an excellent takedown defender, but this fight will inevitably go to the ground on numerous occasions.
And when it does, it is difficult to imagine an outcome other than a Nurmagomedov victory.
A Khabib win at is the right bet, and there is excellent value in backing him to repeat what he did in his last fight and score a submission victory at .
Rashad Evans v Dan Kelly
Following two chastening defeats, former light heavyweight champion Evans has moved down a division in an attempt to extend his career at the top level.
In Kelly, he has been given an opponent that he should be able to beat.
The Australian judoka has had only 12 MMA fights to date despite being 39-years-old, although he has won five of his six UFC bouts.
Evans showed signs of slowing down in his last two defeats, but both Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader are superior opponents to Kelly.
His five-inch reach advantage should prove crucial, though, and a comfortable decision win at is the likeliest outcome here.
Lando Vannata v David Teymur
Vannata has quickly made a name for himself in the UFC.
He seriously troubled Tony Ferguson before being submitted in his first fight for the company, and followed that up with a stunning wheel kick knockout against John Makdeesi at UFC 206.
The 24-year-old should continue to boost his profile with an easy victory over the relatively unknown Teymur.
The Swedish kickboxer has only had six professional MMA fights – winning five and losing one – and has not faced a fighter of Vannata’s calibre in the UFC.
A win for the American at offers little value, but he can be backed to stop the fight in the first round at .
Alastair Overeem v Mark Hunt
These two fighters are nearing the end of their careers, and it is hard to see how the eventual loser will make his way back into the title picture.
Both are coming off unconvincing performances. Overeem was knocked out by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 203, while Hunt suffered a defeat to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200, which was later turned into a no contest.
Overeem will control this fight by maintaining distance and using his reach advantage, but his recent fights suggest that he will at some point leave his suspect chin unguarded.
The Dutchman has suffered four knockout defeats in his last nine fights, and that bodes poorly for his chances against Hunt, who has finished nine of his 12 wins inside the distance.
The Super Samoan has an excellent chin and only needs one opportunity to record one of his trademark walk-off stoppages, and, at , he is good value to do so here.