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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 very intriguing title fights, the card also includes lots of fan favorites, and several of the highly regarded prospects on the roster at the moment. The main event will be the welterweight title rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Their struggle on the massive UFC 205 card turned out to be a much better competition than most expected, end in a majority draw. Woodley had the a lot more demonstrative moments in the struggle throughout the first and fourth rounds. However, Thompson was able 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 end the fight on a strong note, but it had been only enough to get him back flat on two scorecards. Just as Woodley and Thompson failed at UFC 205, the co-main occasion could steal the show as well. The interim lightweight title bout between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson comprises just two of those fighters in the branch who’ve taken the long road to their title shots. Nurmagomedov is now 8-0 inside the Octagon and 24-0 entire in his career. He has been tapped for large things considering entering the UFC, and after overcoming a rash of serious injuries, eventually seems consistently fit and is favored to win the belt on March 4th. Ferguson has witnessed his own lumps in the road on the way for this particular shot. After winning the 13th year of’The Ultimate Fighter’ back in 2011, he scored three successive wins. He dropped a decision to Michael Johnson in 2012 that only halted his momentum for an instant. Since then, he’s reeled off nine consecutive wins against the likes of Rafael dos Anjos, Edson Barboza, and Josh Thomson, consistently putting on must-see struggles. The combo of both Nurmagomedov’s dominance and Ferguson’s high-paced, all-action approach makes their imaginations of the best bookings at the UFC in some time, and almost makes you forget that there’s a guy out there holding the UFC lightweight title 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 DREAM back in 2008 under a variety of conditions. Overeem was just beginning his transformation to Ubereem, while Hunt’s devotion to the game was about in line with Mario Yamasaki’s want to stop fights punctually. Both men are a lot of fighters in this time, as Overeem has adopted a much more conservative style and Hunt has rounded out his game significantly. In their first battle, Overeem quickly took Hunt down and filed him, but we haven’t seen too much of his offensive fighting game lately. Will this battle mark its return, or will the K-1 Grand Prix winners participate on the toes? Rounding out the main card, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans makes his long-awaited middleweight debut against the constantly sudden Dan Kelly. The currently 37-year-old Evans is 2-4 in his last six, and hasn’t won a fight since 2013. Kelly, despite turning 40 after this year, has impressed in his UFC conduct — despite the level of competition was a far cry from what Evans would have offered in his prime — going 5-1 despite being that the gambling underdog in each of his UFC outings. Finally, among the rising stars at lightweight has the opportunity to flaunt his striking, although from a technical standpoint this may be his stiffest test yet on the toes. Lando Vannata stormed into the UFC, nearly upsetting Tony Ferguson on short notice in his debut, then scoring the popular pick for 2016’s knockout of this year against John Makdessi. He’ll be confronting an underrated opponent in David Teymur, with a pair of TKO wins his UFC resume 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 make their returns. The latter two are paired using a light heavyweight division which desperately requires fighters to rise up the rankings. Meanwhile, Bektic and Sanders face their stiffest professional evaluations against Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara, respectively.

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