Khabib Nurmagomedov’s injury and removal from Saturday’s co-main event against Tony Ferguson at UFC 209 is a crippling blow to the promotion’s first major pay-per-view event of the year, but the show must go on.
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 12: Tyron Woodley of the United States (right) fights against Stephen Thompson of the United States in their welterweight championship bout during the UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images )
True to that concept, odds information is still flowing and there’s action on the main event rematch between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson. Here’s a look at the odds for every fight on the card. The bouts that are in bold are the ones that should be noted.
Matchups Weight Class Odds/Favorite Prediction Tyson Pedro vs. Paul Craig Light Heavyweight Craig(-150) Craig by Submission Albert Morales vs. Andre Soukhamthath Men’s Bantamweight Even (-120) Soukhamthath by TKO Amanda Cooper vs. Cynthia Calvillo Women’s Strawweight Calvillo (-130) Calvillo by decision Mark Godbeer vs. Daniel Spitz Heavyweight Godbeer (-144) Spitz by decision Iuri Alcantara vs. Luke Sanders Men’s Featherweight Sanders (-149) Sanders by decision Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins Featherweight Bektic (-335) Elkins by decision Marcin Tybura vs. Luis Henrique Heavyweight Tybura (-150) Henrique by TKO Alistair Overeem vs. Mark Hunt Heavyweight Overeem (-135) Overeem by TKO Lando Vannata vs. David Teymur Lightweight Vannata (-380) Vannata by TKO Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Kelly Middleweight Evans (-220) Evans by decision Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson Welterweight Thompson (-116) Woodley by decision
Upset Special 1: Spitz over Godbeer
Mark Godbeer has more experience than Daniel Spitz, but that’s where his advantages end, in my eyes. Godbeer has never shown much more than a big right hand and some rudimentary wrestling skills. Spitz isn’t exactly a future heavyweight title contender, but his length and work in top position will be a factor.
Godbeer is a minus-144 favorite, but he won’t beat Spitz. Bet on the UFC newcomer using his length and a handy sprawl to avoid being on his back, and to work his way to top position after scrambles.
Upset Special 2: Elkins over Bektic
Darren Elkins, right, fights Godofredo Pepey, of Brazil, during their featherweight mixed martial arts bout in Chicago, Saturday, July 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The only fighter on the card who is a bigger favorite than Mirsad Bektic to win is Lando Vannata. I’m picking Vannata to take out David Teymur in dynamic fashion. In fact, if you’re looking for a Performance of the Night award winner, Vannata might be the guy.
At any rate, Bektic won’t make good on his status as a favorite. Bektic is a dynamic fighter with a well-rounded game, but Elkins is a nightmare for any young, hotshot contender. Bektic is 26 years old and undefeated. He has a higher ceiling than Elkins, but the latter is as tough as they come, and he’s a grinder.
I believe he will drag Bektic to a place he’s never been in the Octagon en route to a unanimous-decision victory on the strength of his suffocating ground game.
The Main Event: Woodley over Thompson
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 10: UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley answers a question during the UFC 205 press conference at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on November 10, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Their first fight was one of the best bouts of 2016, and it ended in a draw. This time, I expect both men to fight smarter. Thompson will do his best to maintain distance with jabs and kicks, and Woodley will look to take the challenger down.
It’s a classic battle of styles, but this time, both men figure to try and stay in their comfort zones a little more. It’s a difficult fight to call, as I could see it going either way, but I’d have to go with Woodley to retain his title after another close decision.
I believe he’ll secure enough takedowns and maintain top position long enough to earn the nod from the judges.