Following a lackluster pay-per-view to begin 2017, the UFC will deliver a highly anticipated event Saturday night in Las Vegas. UFC 209 will be headlined by two unpredictable championship fights.
Less than four months after they competed at UFC 205, Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson will headline UFC 209 in a welterweight championship fight. The interim lightweight championship fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson is the co-main event, and neither bout features a heavy favorite.
Woodley and Thompson had a five-round war in November, taking home “Fight of the Night” honors. Woodley retained his 170-pound belt, but he enters Saturday’s fight as the underdog. Bovada.lv gives Woodley +135 betting odds, and Thompson is a -165 favorite.
Woodley had the edge on one of the judges’ scorecards at UFC 205, but the fight was scored 47-47, 47-47, 48-47, making it a majority draw. Woodley forced the tie by dominating the fourth round with a 10-8 score, but Thompson refused to quit, earning himself a rematch. Woodley won three straight fights before the draw, and Thompson hasn’t been defeated in his last eight fights.
Khabib Nurmagomedov, pictured ar UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 12, 2016 in New York City, could put himself in position to face Conor McGregor. Photo: Getty Images
Nurmagomedov also fought at UFC 205, emerging victorious with a third-round submission of Michael Johnson. He’ll fight for the UFC lightweight interim title against Ferguson, who hasn’t lost a fight since 2012.
The winner of Saturday’s five-round bout would be next in line to face Conor McGregor, who took the 155-pound belt from Eddie Alvarez in the UFC 205 main event. The odds favor Nurmagomedov to land on McGregor's radar since he is a -175 favorite. However, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Ferguson, who is a +145 underdog, get the win.
McGregor won’t necessarily face the lightweight interim champion in his next fight. He’ll eventually have his rubber match against Nate Diaz, and there’s even been speculation that he could move back up to 170 pounds and challenge the welterweight champion. McGregor continues to talk about facing Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match, though whomever McGregor fights, his next bout might not happen until September the earliest.
Of the five bouts on the UFC 209 main card, only the non-title lightweight fight features a favorite that's getting better than 1/2 odds. Lando Vannata is a -250 favorite against David Teymur (+195).
Heavyweight Alistair Overeem is just a -145 favorite over Mark Hunt, who has +115 odds. Overeem hasn’t fought since losing a title fight to Stipe Miocic, and Hunt’s loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 was changed to a no-contest when it was discovered that Lesnar failed two tests for performance-enhancing drugs.
Rashad Evans (-190) and Daniel Kelly (+155) round out the main card in a middleweight fight.
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