There’s nothing like a good ol’ rematch to quench our thirst for mixed martial arts.
That’s what we’ll get Saturday night, as Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson battle again for the welterweight championship at UFC 209 in Las Vegas.
The two fought to a majority draw at UFC 205 in New York City a few months ago, and Woodley walked out of Madison Square Garden still holding his belt. Now, they’ll meet in the octagon to settle the score at last.
Heavyweight: Alistair Overeem (41-15, 1 NC, -145) vs. Mark Hunt (12-10-1, 1 NC, +115)
Overeem hasn’t fought since falling to Stipe Miocic at UFC 203 in the heavyweight title fight. He had an impressive run before that, out-striking opponents 327-124 over nine fights dating back to 2011. However, he only compiled a 6-3 record in that timeframe. The three losses were via knockout, which means even though Overeem has been dominating fights, he’s vulnerable to defeat by an opponent’s single blow.
Hunt definitely has knockout ability, evidenced by his last five victories coming via knockout finishes. He also seems motivated to be fighting someone who has failed drug tests in the past, telling NESN.com recently, “Any fight against a cheater is not a fair advantage. I look at Alistair the same way I look at Brock Lesnar and the rest of these cheating bums. They shouldn’t be up here. We should get rid of all these losers.”
Prediction: Hunt via first-round TKO
Lightweight: Lando Vannata (9-1, -400) vs. David Teymur (5-1, +300)
After fighting relatively big names like Tony Ferguson and John Makdessi, fan-favorite “Groovy” Lando Vannata now fights an obscure name in David Teymur. Teymur, who has a kickboxing background, has two knockout wins in the UFC, and he can put his name on the map with a huge upset win. Unfortunately for him, Vannata is a much more superior fighter. He’s fought tougher opponents in the UFC and eight of his nine wins have been finishes. Vannata is known as a striker and averages 5.54 significant strikes per minute in the UFC. He has solid grappling ability, as well with four submission victories to his name.
Prediction: Vannata via first-round TKO
Middleweight: Rashad Evans (24-5-1, -225) vs. Dan Kelly (12-1, +175)
The combined age of these two fighters is 76 (Evans is 37; Kelly is 39). Kelly has a judo background and likely will try to get Evans to the ground because of Evans’ five-inch reach advantage. However, Evans always has been a balanced fighter who can win either standing up or on the ground. He averages a higher takedown rate (3.15 takedowns per 15 minutes) than Kelly and also has six knockout wins to his credit in the UFC.
Prediction: Evans via unanimous decision
Welterweight title fight: Tyron Woodley (16-3-1, +135 vs. Stephen Thompson (13-1–1, -165)
Ah! The rematch everyone’s been waiting for. Woodley got off to a hot start in the first fight, outstriking Wonderboy 14-1 in the first round, but seemed to tire out later in the bout. He needs to get off to another fast start again. Although Wonderboy historically is the better striker, clocking in at 4.06 significant strikes per minute, that wasn’t the case at UFC 205, when he was outstruck 61-43. Let’s not forget that Woodley almost won the fight in the fifth round with a guillotine choke which Thompson miraculously was able to slip away from.
Woodley has the big punch and ground game. He also was the first man to record a takedown against Wonderboy since 2012 (seven straight fights) and was the first fighter to have more significant strikes than Wonderboy in a UFC fight. Thompson was incredibly inaccurate in the last fight, as well, landing just 26 percent of his significant strikes. The numbers show that Woodley should have won that fight; he just needs to finish the job this time.
Prediction: Woodley via second-round knockout.
Thumbnail photo via Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports Images