UFC 209 PREVIEW, SCRUMS & MEDIA WORKOUTS
By Eric Kowal, Real Combat Media MMA Correspondent & Founder of MyMMANews.com
Eric Kowal’s RCM Prediction Record (25-14-2) Main Events (5-0)
Breakdown of the UFC 209 Fight Card
Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) (welterweight champion) vs. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (13-1-1)
In the main event at UFC 209, a rematch between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson takes center stage. The first fight back on the stacked UFC 205 card at Madison Square Garden in November was an absolute war and I expect nothing less in this one. This is one of those fights where I want one fighter to win, but feel the other gets the job done. I’m pulling for Wonderboy as he has been interviewed several times on our site and has been very cordial and easy to get along with, however I feel that if Tyron drags the fight into the championship rounds he can win a decision. To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man, and if Tyron lands some big shots the evidence will be left on the face of Wonderboy as it was in their first outing. 25-minutes is a long time to endure that type of punishment. Wonderboy certainly has the heart, but I think that unless he catches Tyron with some flashy moves like he did against Jake Ellenberger or Johny Hendricks, that Tyron will drag it into deep waters and get the win.
PREDICTION: Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision
Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs. Tony Ferguson (22-3) (For Interim Lightweight Title)
This fight has all the signs to be one of the best fights in UFC history. It is arguably one of the best pairings as you have 24-0, undefeated, Khabib Nurmagomedov taking on rising star Tony Ferguson who has not lost since 2012 for the interim lightweight title. This fight could easily be a pay-per-view headliner but two title fights in one night is not a bad gig. That loss came at the hands of Michael Johnson, who was also Nurmagomedov’s most recent victim back at UFC 205. Granted the Ferguson-Johnson fight was a long time ago, but given that factor, and the fact that Lando Vanatta came in on short notice and gave Ferguson a really good test, fight, and scare before being submitted, I give Nurmagomedov the edge. I think he finds the flaws in Tony’s game and does the same thing he did to Johnson at MSG. I see Khabib using ground and pound to get the job done, setting up the fight that everyone wants to see, Khabib for the division’s champion, Conor McGregor. The question then is, where do you do that fight, Ireland or Russia?
PREDICTION: Khabib Nurmagomedov via TKO – Round 4
Rashad Evans (19-5-1) vs. Daniel Kelly (12-1)
I’ve thought long and hard about this fight. Daniel Kelly has looked pretty good since coming to the UFC. He’s 5-1 for the organization, but if one thing is going against him, and I had to be nit picking, it’s his age. At 39-years old, Father Time is going to catch up with him in the near future. With that being said, he’s not going up against a spring chicken either. Rashad Evans is a weathered fighter, a former light heavyweight champion. His last two attempts to move to middleweight have been denied after not being cleared to fight by medical professionals. Before that, his last two fights were losses to Glover Teixeira and Ryan Bader. Rashad’s last win came in November 2013 over Chael Sonnen. Rashad has all the tools to get the job done and get the win, but it also makes me wonder at the same time, is this where Rashad says to himself “I got the win, I’m going out with a win,” and walks away from the sport. The former champion currently is not ranked in the top 15 in either light heavyweight or middleweight and a rise to the top for a title shot would mean he has to pull together a string of wins over top competitors. So I ask myself, “Is Rashad fighting this fight to get a win before he goes out, or what is his purpose for attempting time and time again to get back in there?” After I take all of that into consideration I still see Evans getting Kelly to the ground several times, playing a smart fight, using his experience, and getting a decision win.
PREDICTION: Rashad Evans via unanimous decision
Lando Vanatta (9-1) vs. David Teymur (5-1)
Lando Vanatta has been quite impressive thus far in the UFC. First, coming into a short notice fight with Tony Ferguson and almost getting the job done before being submitted helped give the youngster a plethora of new fans. He then followed that loss up with a highlight reel knockout wheel kick over John Makdessi that put the entire division on notice. David Teymur on the other hand is no slouch. His UFC wins have been TKO and KO finishes so I see this being a very entertaining fight where the two are going to stand and bang, but Vanatta pulls it out with a second round TKO.
PREDICTION: Lando Vanatta via TKO – Round 2
Alistair Overeem (41-15) vs. Mark Hunt (12-10-1)
When was the last time you saw a heavyweight fight like this open up a UFC pay-per-view? This fight could have easily headlined or co-headlined a card not long ago. Still a very intriguing matchup. Throw out the fact that Overeem defeated Hunt in Japan in 2008 under the DREAM banner. The two behemoths were completely different fighters back then. But where is Mark Hunt’s head at today? For the past six or seven months he has been battling back and forth with the UFC, filing lawsuits and such over the Brock Lesnar UFC 200 debacle. It just makes me wonder where his mentality will be at for this fight. Overeem on the other hand is coming off a title shot loss to Stipe Miocic in September, and he too would like to get back in the win column. I see Overeem playing a smart game, using his reach and staying at bay from the heavy hands of Hunt.
PREDICTION: Alistair Overeem via split decision
Preliminary Bouts on FOX Sports 1 – 8 p.m. EST
Marcin Tybura (14-2) vs. Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira (10-2)
Before Overeem and Hunt stand toe-to-toe, another heavyweight battle takes place and closes out the preliminary bouts on FS1. Former M-1 Global champion Marcin Tybura looks to earn his second win in the UFC taking on the man with the longest name in the organization, Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira who is currently 2-1. This really is a test to see if either fighter could appear in the heavyweight rankings for the first time. In this instance though I think Tybura has the heavier hands and will get the job done via KO.
PREDICTION: Marcin Tybura via KO – Round 1.
Mirsad Bektic (11-0) vs. Darren Elkins (21-5)
Mirsad Bektic is a perfect 11-0, 4-0 since coming to the UFC. He and his opponent, Darren Elkins have a common win over Chas Skelly, but Elkins has been taking his fight to the distance of late. His last seven fights have all gone to the judges. In this instance I do see the contest going to the scorecards but with Bektic’s hand raised at the end.
PREDICTION: Mirsad Bektic via unanimous decision
Iuri Alcantara (33-7) vs. Luke Sanders (11-0)
I think this is an excellent fight on paper and will play out the same inside the octagon. Luke Sanders, a perfect 11-0 has everything to win in this fight, going up against a far more experienced Iuri Alcantara. Alcantara’s only blemishes inside the octagon come at the hands of Urijah Faber, Jimmie Rivera, and Frankie Saenz. I think the experience alone is enough to carry Alcantara to a decision victory but I see him wanting to get the job done and finish the fight, handing Sanders his first loss, and he does it with a second round submission.
PREDICTION: Iuri Alcantara via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 2
Daniel Spitz (5-0) vs. Mark Godbeer (11-3)
There’s not a whole lot that we know about Daniel Spitz going into this fight. This is his first fight for the UFC, and he is coming off a 6-second win after an injury at King of the Cage. That really only gives opponent, Mark Godbeer, four solid fights to research. Godbeer, a prospect out of BAMMA in England was submitted in his UFC debut by Justin Ledet, but I think he bounces back here and gets the job done with a third round TKO.
PREDICTION: Mark Godbeer via TKO – Round 3
Preliminary Bouts on UFC Fight Pass – 6:30 p.m. EST
Paul Craig (9-0) vs. Tyson Pedro (5-0)
Paul Craig, undefeated at 9-0, holds an armbar win over Luis Henrique da Silva at UFC on FOX 22, while his opponent Tyson Pedro, also undefeated at 5-0, has a submission win over Khalil Rountree. Someone’s “0” must go, someone is taking home a loss (unless it ends in the rare draw). In this instance I’m going to with Craig to get the job done and it comes in the form of a unanimous decision.
PREDICTION: Paul Craig via unanimous decision
Amanda Bobby Cooper (2-2) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (3-0)
Amanda Bobby Cooper found herself in the finals of the Ultimate Fighter Season 23, but ended up losing to the eventual winner, Tatiana Suarez. Cooper bounced back with a unanimous decision win over Anna Elmose. Her opponent on Saturday is making her UFC debut and looking to continue her undefeated streak. Cynthia Calvillo is a perfect 3-0 coming into the octagon, but will it be enough?
PREDICTION: Amanda Bobby Cooper via split decision
Albert Morales (6-1) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (11-3)
Andre Soukhamathath comes to the UFC as the current CES MMA bantamweight champion. His opponent, Albert Morales went to a majority draw against Alejandro Perez, and then suffered a TKO loss to Thomas Almeida. Going into his third fight in the UFC, Morales has yet to see a win, and I think Soukhamathath is absolutely the wrong opponent for him to try and get that W. I see Soukhamathath getting a TKO early in the second round after getting rid of the octagon jitters in the first.
PREDICTION: Andre Soukhamthath via TKO – Round 2
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UFC 209 Fight Card
Tyron Woodley (Welterweight Champion) vs. Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson (For Interim Lightweight Title)
Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Kelly
Lando Vanatta vs. David Teymur
Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt
Marcin Tybura vs. Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliveira
Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins
Iuri Alcantara vs. Luke Sanders
Daniel Spitz vs. Mark Godbeer
Paul Craig vs. Tyson Pedro
Amanda Bobby Cooper vs. Cynthia Calvillo
Albert Morales vs. Andre Soukhamthath
UFC 209 takes place Saturday, March 4 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Main Card on Pay-Per-View – 10 p.m. EST
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