It’s fight day, ladies and gentlemen, and UFC 209 is upon us.
And yet… sigh.
The events of yesterday have left all those who were so excited for tonight feeling as if the family cat just wandered off and not been seen for a day or two. Sure, Felix might come back at some point, but until it does, the kid is crying and the night’s ruined.
Yesterday morning, (you know, pre-11 a.m.), UFC 209 was a stacked card with two title fights and a myriad of known and liked names. It was an exciting return to form from the promotion that just put out the disappointing UFC 208. But the moment Khabib Nurmagomedov hit a hospital bed, as opposed to the scales, and the fight against Tony Ferguson being scrapped, those other fights just seem to have lost their shine somewhat, don’t they?
Stephen Thompson and Tyron Woodley will more than likely put on a cracking fight. Mark Hunt and Alistair Overeem are top tier heavyweights. Rashad Evans hits refresh with a divisional change. Lando Vannata will probably do some spinning shit.
Ferguson/Khabib — say what you want about the inclusion of an interim title — was about as fresh and competitive a match up as we’re going to get in MMA in 2017. Now the fight, cancelled for the third time, joins Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones in the pile of ‘tell us when they’re in the cage’.
The whole affair is just a downer. It’s sad for Nurmagomedov and Ferguson, it’s sad for the UFC, it’s sad for the fans… hell, even Michael Bisping had to have a few drinks to get over it.
Yet, there are still fights to be take place, and those fights must be judged! Here, we take a look at the main card and offer our picks and predictions on UFC 209:
Tyron Woodley (c) vs. Stephen Thompson
After the two had an incredible fight at UFC 205, they’re here to do it again. As is the case with immediate rematches, the likely victor of the second find is judged on who could change the most in preparation for ’round 2′. In that category, the answer is clearly Woodley.
As the UFC have wasted no time in telling you, his wrestling was something that he only used once in the first fight, and should he revert back to that again, he’ll have another avenue to a win.
Pick: Tyron Woodley
Lightweight Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur
In the new (and unlikely) co-main event, Lando Vannata has the opportunity at a level of exposure rarely found by a man in his third UFC bout. He and David Teymur have had increasingly embittered interactions this week, and the contest could actually turn out to be a high paced scrap.
With that said, Vannata looks as if he’s a talent far beyond his 24-years. A crazy knockout could get the UFC rocket push behind him.
Pick: Lando Vannata
Middleweight Rashad Evans vs. Dan Kelly
Rashad Evans’ move down to middleweight has been a long time coming, with the idea first being discussed by the former light heavyweight champion back in 2013. Now he’s finally made the drop, he’s essentially at a crossroads. His last performances at 205-pounds have been a far cry from his best after injuries seem to have taken their toll. If Evans doesn’t put on a show here, then he’ll need to ask serious questions about his career going forward.
Against Kelly, Evans has a chance to show ‘Suga’ has returned and that he’s slowly recovering his momentum. But while he might be the bigger name here, Dan Kelly isn’t a joke. An Olympic level Judoka, Kelly has only lost once in his thirteen fights and if the cut to middleweight doesn’t revamp Evans’ career, don’t be surprised with a Kelly win.
Pick: Rashad Evans
Women’s Strawweight Amanda Cooper vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Calvillo’s coach Urijah Faber says that whenever there’s someone misbehaving at the gym, they make them spar with Calvillo. That’ll do for me.
Pick: Cynthia Calvillo
Heavyweight Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt
As with most UFC heavyweight fights, this is a tough one to call. Until his last showing against Stipe Miocic, Overeem appeared a much more disciplined fighter who was able to pick apart his opponents from distance en route to a win. But in that Miocic fight, what we saw was an unruly, wild Overeem who failed to protect that infamous chin.
And, when it comes to protecting your chin, there’s no one you need to to do so more against than Mark Hunt.
Mark Hunt obviously has his own issues here, coming in with the emotional baggage of a lawsuit on his shoulders. Lucky for him however, the Super Samoan doesn’t mind fighting riled up and given his comments towards Overeem this week, it could be a dangerous combination for the Dutchman.
Pick: Mark Hunt
Enjoy the fights!