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UFC 209 Observer Panel Picks: Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson 2

UFC returns to its home base of Las Vegas Saturday night for a slightly less stacked UFC 209 PPV than originally scheduled.

The reason is because Khabib Nurmagomedov had to be pulled from his interim lightweight title bout against Tony Ferguson due to complications from weight cutting issues, the third time the fight has been delayed. It was a huge blow to a show that had a lot of buzz going in, but got that bucket of cold water tossed on it Friday afternoon.

In the main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson will rematch after fighting to a draw at UFC's NYC debut last November.

Now in the co-main event slot is a lightweight fight featuring two prospects with just one pro loss each in Lando Vannata and David Teymur.

Heavyweights Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt will square off in a rematch of their 2008 DREAM fight, a fight Overeem won via first round submission.

Finally, former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans will fight for the first time at middleweight against Australian and Olympian Dan Kelly who has just one career loss.

Our picks are listed below and listed alongside the fighter's names are their worldwide FightMatrix rankings, as well as BestFightOdds.com betting odds. The picker's 2017 records is in parentheses, and we also have panel consensus picks as well as a line where we show how the betting favorites did:

  • Dave Meltzer (14-1; .933) -- Wrestling Observer founder
  • David Bixenspan (12-3; .800) -- MMANews.com editor, Sherdog.com contributor, podcast host
  • Favorites (12-3; .800)
  • Consensus Picks (12-3; .800)
  • Mike Sawyer (11-4; .733) -- Tough Talk MMA
  • Mike Sempervive (11-4; .733) -- Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
  • John Pollock (11-4; .733) -- Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
  • Steve Juon (10-5; .667) -- MMA Mania writer, Angry Marks founder
  • Ryan Frederick (10-5; .667) -- WrestlingObserver.com UFC writer
  • Paul Fontaine (7-8; .667) -- MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer
  • Josh Nason (7-8; .667) -- Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out, WrestlingObserver.com assistant editor
  • Front Row Brian (7-8; .667) -- MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host

> UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs Stephen Thompson (13-1-1) II

Their first fight actually started out fairly uneventful but, by the end, it turned into a very dramatic contest that ended in a majority draw. That was one of the rare cases where most agreed that a draw was the right decision, leaving the rematch as the obvious next fight for both men.

Both have impressive streaks going into this show as Woodley hasn't been beaten since dropping a decision to Rory MacDonald in June 2014 while Thompson’s unbeaten streak goes all the way back to 2012 where Matt Brown handed him his only career loss.

This is an interesting style matchup. Will the wrestling ability of Woodley be able to neutralize the precise striking of his challenger? What did each man learn from the last fight? Could this go to a draw again?

  • Woodley #1; +153 betting underdog: FRB, Sawyer, Pollock, Sempervive, Nason, Bix
  • Thompson #2; -149 betting favorite: Juon, Frederick, Fontaine, Meltzer

> Lando Vannata (9-1) vs David Teymur (5-1)

Vannata debuted in the UFC in spectacular fashion last July, nearly finishing Tony Ferguson in a short notice appearance before dropping a Fight Of The Year candidate. He followed that up with a highlight reel KO of John Makdessi at UFC 206.

Teymur has scored KO wins in each of his first two UFC fights after competing on season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter. On a very stacked main card, this is a potential show stealer as both will be fighting on the biggest stage of their life as they hope to make an impression in the very deep lightweight division.

  • Vannata #88; -290 betting favorite: FRB, Juon, Frederick, Sawyer, Pollock, Sempervive, Nason, Bix, Meltzer
  • Teymur #86; +336 betting underdog: Fontaine

> Rashad Evans (19-5-1) vs Daniel Kelly (12-1)

Finally, Evans will fight after having his last two bouts canceled due to medical issues and a previous fight canceled due to an injury to scheduled opponent Shogun Rua. He was last seen in the cage in April 2016, being knocked out at the hands of Glover Teixiera. Evans drops to middleweight as he hopes to pick up his first win since knocking out Chael Sonnen back in November 2013.

Kelly was still a year away from making his UFC debut at that point and since then, he has won five of six with the only setback coming against “Smilin” Sam Alvey. This is the biggest fight of of the 39-year-old Olympian's career.

  • Evans #16 at light heavyweight; -200 betting favorite: FRB, Frederick, Sawyer, Pollock, Fontaine, Nason, Meltzer
  • Kelly #28; +206 betting underdog: Juon, Sempervive, Bix

> Mark Hunt (12-10-1) vs Alistair Overeem (41-15)

Both of these big men are PRIDE veterans and former UFC title challengers. And while each are seemingly on the tail end of Hall of Fame careers, they are not that far out of title contention and a win here could set someone up for one last big run.

Hunt lost via decision to Brock Lesnar at UFC 200 but since Lesnar failed a drug test, that result was overturned and ruled a no contest. There's been a lot of issues between Hunt and the UFC with how all of that went down, resulting in a lawsuit by Hunt that UFC is trying to throw out of court.

Overeem was KO’d by heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic in September which snapped a four fight win streak highlighted by knockout wins in three of those. He is six years younger than Hunt and will have a significant height and reach advantage. 

  • Hunt #6; +128 betting underdog: Frederick, Sawyer, Sempervive, Bix
  • Overeem #4; -131 betting favorite: FRB, Juon, Pollock, Fontaine, Nason, Meltzer


Rest of the card:

> Cynthia Calvillo (3-0) vs Amanda Cooper (2-0)

  • Calvillo NR; -105 betting favorite
  • Cooper #32; +103 betting underdog

> Marcin Tybura (14-2) vs Luis Henrique (10-2)

  • Tybura #27; -137 betting favorite
  • Henrique #99; +143 betting favorite

> Mirsad Bektic (11-0) vs Darren Elkins (21-5)

  • Bektic #33; -588 betting favorite
  • Elkins #13; +587 betting underdog

> Iuri Alcantara (34-7) vs Luke Sanders (11-0)

  • Alcantara #15; -102 betting underdog
  • Sanders #32 at featherweight; -106 betting favorite

> Daniel Spitz (5-0) vs Mark Godbeer (11-3)

  • Spitz #119; +133 betting underdog
  • Godbeer #95; -135 betting favorite

> Paul Craig (9-0) vs Tyson Pedro (5-0)

  • Craig #24; +128 betting underdog
  • Pedro #79; -120 betting favorite

> Albert Morales (6-1-1) vs Andre Soukhamthath (11-3)

  • Morales #133; -125 betting favorite
  • Soukhamthath #80; +115 betting underdog

Action begins with the Fight Pass prelims at 6:30 PM EST and moves over to FS 1 at 8 PM EST. The main card is on PPV at 10 PM EST, covered by our Ryan Frederick.

UFC 208 discussion on the Board, including Ryan Frederick’s extensive preview of the card, along with fighter notes