UFC 209

Woodley x Thompson 2 / Nurmagomedov x Ferguson

Picks, Parlays, and Predictions

Opposites Attack!

PICKS

Thompson x Woodley
Ferguson x Nurmagomedov
Kelly x Evans
Vannata x Teymur
Hunt x Overeem
Henrique x Tybura
Bektic x Elkins
Alcantara x Sanders
Godbeer x Spitz
Craig x Pedro


PARLAYS

"AVANT-GARDE MAIN CARD" EDITION

Thompson (-160)
Ferguson (+175)
Kelly (+180)
Vannata (-250)

$2.09 to win $34.52

"THE FIXER" EDITION

Thompson (-160)
Kelly (+180)
Vannata (-250)
Hunt (+110)
$2.09 to win $22.43

PREDICTIONS

The Eye-Catching, Rematching, Finally-Happening, Title-Patching Championships

Tyron Woodley x Stephen Thompson for the Welterweight Championship

A rematch of one of the most intriguing title fights of last year, Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson are being forced to run it back after their first clash ended in a majority draw. One of the three judges had Woodley, the champion, winning but almost everyone watching agreed with the draw, even though he undoubtedly had the bigger and better moments. With the new scoring rules taking effect this year, Tyron would have had it in the bag. It’ll be interesting to see how their styles adjust now that they know what they’re up against.

Tyron Woodley is an absolute wrecking ball of a man. He’s dominated the best in the world at welterweight and his all-american wrestling pedigree makes him a tall task for anybody at 170 pounds, despite his short stature. He’s never in a rush to get the job done, but pounces at opportunities and can end the night early with his monstrous hands. That wrestleboxing style has always dominated this division, but Tyron makes it look perfect. It doesn’t matter what he’s up against – he’ll adjust and find a way to get the job done. Duke Roufus, his legendary kickboxing coach, came up with an excellent gameplan to deal with the whirling strikes of Wonderboy. Tyron was able to take the challenger down in the first fight, put him in terrible positions, and hammer away his head, Apparently it takes a hell of a lot more than that to put Stephen Thompson away.

Even with a lifetime’s worth of kickboxing and karate, Thompson couldn’t manage to avoid Tyron’s looping right hand. That’s fighting for you. He knew it was coming, but walked into it a few times, nearly forcing a ref stoppage. Wonderboy never stopped, though. The flashy kicks and beautiful strikes kept pouring out of him, even as blood was pouring out of his face. Wonderboy stole rounds by mixing up mesmerizing combinations and doing his best to remain elusive on the feet. Watching him work is an absolute treat and more enthralling than any action movie. I think Tyron’s strength and timing came as a shock in the first fight, but Thompson was able to correct his footwork and continue to make things interesting. If he can stop the takedown and find his range earlier in the fight, Woodley is in trouble. I’m not exactly sure why the champion is an underdog going into this one, but I happen to agree. Stephen Thompson has to work on his grappling, but Woodley has to fight perfectly again. Tyron may technically have more tools at his disposal, but Stephen’s striking is expert and it only takes one shot. This is a great clash of styles and and I’m picking Wonderboy, but rooting for Woodley. 

Khabib Nurmagomedov x Tony Ferguson for the Interim Lightweight Championship

These two guys couldn’t be any more different. Khabib Nurmagomedov is a hardline Muslim from Dagestan with a championship background in Russian Sambo and an unblemished MMA record spanning 24 matches. There’s footage of him wrestling bears as a child. He speaks down to his opponents in broken English during fights and really aims to inflict pain. Everything about Khabib is terrifying. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson, on the other hand, chooses to exhibit the worst parts of Southern California. He’s cocky, he’s outspoken, and he wears sunglasses indoors. Another thing about Tony? Nobody can fight like him. He’s about as unorthodox as you can get, but his style is violent and effective. El Cucuy will tactical roll across the cage, throw a capoeira kick, then snap you down and choke you out. It’s all very weird and very fluid. The only thing these two have in common is that they’re both extremely talented and the winner gets first crack at Conor McGregor’s belt. Matches like this are what make MMA the best sport in the world. Please do not miss this fight.

Not many people stand a chance against Khabib. His striking may not be beautiful, but he’s got hands and isn’t afraid to brawl in order to close the distance. Once he’s got ahold of you, you’re going to go down. His wrestling is incomparable. Literally, good luck. Khabib may even kill you on the way back up to your feet. He can suplex you back through the mat, snap your neck, and probably feel indifferent about it. Everything he does is borderline emotionless, but Tony Ferguson seems to get a rise out of him. Tony might just be the perfect foil for the Russian titan. El Cucuy is too confident to be scared and his complex jiu jitsu means he won’t be helpless on his back. Standing, El Cucuy will have the upper hand. His striking is wild, he’s got a significant reach advantage, and we’ve seen Khabib get tagged, although never fazed. This is a real immovable object meets unstoppable force situation. Officially, I’m picking Tony to surprise Khabib with something far-out of left field. His unconventional style has to be difficult to adapt to and his personality seems to irk Khabib. Maybe an angry Khabib only means a quicker death, but I think we see him frustrated for the first time ever.

There’s a lot of hype going into this interim championship and I can’t wait. I think both of them have a great chance at beating McGregor, whenever he comes back, but this fight comes first. Another pointless interim belt, but oh well. Tony is pure talent with a tough personality to root for, and Khabib is a heartless machine that we can’t take our eyes off of. Either way, these are two of the best in the world and they’re fighting each other on Saturday night. This matchup has fallen through twice and it's finally happening, so I encourage you to watch. 
[Edit: Well, make that three times. Khabib didn't make it to weigh-ins the day before the fight. Now let us never speak of this matchup ever again.]