With several title fights recently announced for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), it’s time to get back to work. Taking place in just about a month and a half, UFC 209 will feature not one, but two title fights as welterweight champion Tyron Woodley rematches Stephen Thompson and an interim lightweight title will be decided between unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov and the surging Tony Ferguson. Here’s what MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas had to say about the Woodley/Thompson bout:
This Woodley vs Thompson bout for UFC 209 is a rematch of one of 2016’s most exciting title fights, and I’m expecting much of the same. Thompson closed as just under a 2-1 favorite in the first meeting, which ended in a well-deserved draw. Just like before, Woodley will have the wrestling edge as well as the explosive power to close the distance and find success. Thompson was able to control distance well in three of the five rounds and outpoint Woodley for the most part. The biggest difference was the improvement in Woodley’s cardio and the damage Thompson took. Thus, I’m opening this fight much closer than the first bout closed with Thompson being a -135 favorite with the comeback on the champion Woodley being +105.
Kalikas also chimed in on the Nurmagomedov/Ferguson title clash:
This is a highly anticipated lightweight match-up between two men on huge winning streaks. Both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson are entering this bout following impressive victories over top competition, but I expect each man to be the other’s toughest opponent to date. Stylistically, Nurmagomedov is one of the best wrestlers in the entire UFC and has taken down just about everyone he’s ever faced. Ferguson is a much better striker and also possesses an unorthodox ground game due to his length. Ferguson has good takedown defense, but it may not be good enough, so I’m going to open Nurmagomedov as a -205 betting favorite with the comeback on Ferguson being +165.
UFC 209: Las Vegas, Nevada | 03-4-2017
Tyron Woodley +105
Stephen Thompson -135
Interim Lightweight Title
Tony Ferguson +165
Khabib Nurmagomedov -205