While it may not do blockbuster business, next weekend’s UFC 209 is a huge card for hardcore MMA fans. Headlined by a pair of quite intriguing title fights, the card also features plenty of fan favorites, and several of the highly regarded prospects on the roster right now. The most important event is going to be the welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Their struggle on the huge UFC 205 card proven to be a much better competition than most expected, end in a vast majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the fight throughout the first and fourth rounds. However, Thompson managed to back him against the cage for long stretches of the middle rounds, and although he didn’t achieve much once there that he took these rounds. The fifth saw Thompson open up on a weary Woodley and finish the fight on a solid note, but it had been just enough to get him back flat on two scorecards. Just as Woodley and Thompson did at UFC 205, the co-main occasion could steal the show as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson features just two of those fighters in the branch who’ve taken the long road to their name shots. Nurmagomedov is now 8-0 within the Octagon and 24-0 overall in his career. He has been exploited for big things since entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of serious injuries, eventually seems consistently fit and is favored to win the buckle on March 4th. Ferguson has witnessed his own bumps in the road on the way to this particular shot. After winning the 13th season of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he also scored three successive wins. He dropped a decision to Michael Johnson in 2012 that just halted his momentum for an instant. Ever since that time, he has reeled off nine consecutive wins against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Josh Thomson, consistently putting on must-see fights. The combo of both Nurmagomedov’s dominance and Ferguson’s high-paced, all-action approach creates their bout of the best bookings in the UFC in some time, and almost makes you forget that there is a man out there holding the UFC lightweight name who appears to possess no desire to defend it. The principal card of UFC 209 also offers a heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. The two fought in DREAM back in 2008 under a variety of conditions. Overeem was just beginning his transformation into Ubereem, while Hunt’s devotion to the game was about based on Mario Yamasaki’s want to stop fights punctually. Both men are much different fighters at this point, as Overeem has adopted a far more conservative fashion and Hunt has rounded out his game considerably. In their first battle, Overeem quickly took Hunt down and filed himbut we have not seen a lot of his offensive fighting game recently. Will this battle mark its return, or will the K-1 Grand Prix champions engage on the feet? Rounding out the most important card, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans makes his long-awaited middleweight debut against the constantly sudden Dan Kelly. The now 37-year-old Evans is 2-4 in his last six, and hasn’t won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 later this year, has impressed in his UFC run — despite the amount of competition has been a far cry from what Evans would have provided in his prime — heading 5-1 despite being that the gambling underdog in each of his UFC outings. Finally, one of the rising stars at lightweight gets the opportunity to flaunt his striking, but from a technical perspective this might be his stiffest test yet on the toes. Lando Vannata stormed into the UFC, almost upsetting Tony Ferguson on brief notice in his debut, and then scoring the favorite pick for 2016’s knockout of this year against John Makdessi. He will be confronting an underrated opponent in David Teymur, who has a pair of TKO wins on his UFC restart after breaking into the business via TUF. The undercard also has some struggles to keep your eyes on, as undefeated prospects Mirsad Bektic, Luke Sanders, Paul’The Bear Jew’ Craig, and Tyson Pedro create their returns. The latter two are paired together in a light heavyweight division which desperately requires fighters to rise up the rankings. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional evaluations from Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.

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