Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., March 4, 2017) when UFC 209: “Woodley vs. Thompson 2” storms T-Moblie Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 209 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.
Has Tyron Woodley found the secret of Wonderboy’s power, or will Stephen Thompson take the belt away from the mucky-muck in the main event of UFC 209, which takes place this Saturday night (March 4, 2017) inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada? Indeed, it’s a Welterweight championship rematch this weekend as Woodley and Thompson do battle once more. The pair previously dueled in Nov. 2016 to a razor-thin majority draw that had the New York crowd on its feet.
Elsewhere on the pay-per-view (PPV) card, Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Tony Ferguson in a hotly anticipated interim Lightweight title fight and top prospect Lando Vannata faces Muay Thai menace David Teymur. But, never mind the PPV main card, here’s the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard line up (check out the Fight Pass portion here).
265 lbs.: Marcin Tybura vs. Luis Henrique
Marcin Tybura (14-2) entered UFC as the reigning M-1 Heavyweight Champion, a title that failed to save him from losing a decision to Timothy Johnson in his debut. He quickly erased the memory of that loss by erasing most of Viktor Pesta’s memories via head kick four months later.
Tybura, who was pulled from a bout at UFC 208 at the last minute by New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), has earned six wins each by knockout and submission.
Luis Henrique (10-2) saw a six-fight win streak go up in smoke in his Octagon debut, a brutal knockout loss to blue-chip prospect Francis Ngannou. He has since asserted himself as a prospect in his own right with submissions of Dmitry Smolyakov and Christian Colombo.
It’s difficult to get a good read on this fight for the sole reason that Henrique’s UFC competition has fluctuated between extremes. Ngannou is obviously a monster, but Smolyakov is atrocious and Colombo only managed a draw against Jarjis freaking Danho. Considering that “KLB” spent a good chunk of his pre-UFC days at 205, we literally have no point of reference for how he’ll fare against a solid, bottom-of-the-top-20 Heavyweight like Tybura.
Stylistically, though, I favor Tybura. He can hold his own in the wrestling and proved how dangerous he can be on the feet against Pesta. So long as he can stay busy, expect him to win enough grappling exchanges to take the decision.
Prediction: Tybura via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Mirsad Bektic vs. Darren Elkins
Long hailed as perhaps the top prospect in all of MMA, injuries have limited Mirsad Bektic (11-0) to just four fights in the last three years. He’s certainly made the most of them, at least, dominating and stopping Lucas Martins and Russell Doane in his last two appearances.
He has knocked out five professional opponents and submitted another three.
A five-fight win streak from 2011 to 2013 gave way to a 2-3 stretch that seemed to announce the end of Darren Elkins’ (21-5) run as a contender. Undaunted, he’s since won three straight, including a decision over top prospect Chas Skelly at UFC 196.
He stands two inches taller than Bektic at 5’10.”
If Bektic can stay healthy, he is championship material. Brutal power, relentless offense and suffocating wrestling make him a flat-out terrifying foe. If he had gotten to face Max Holloway in 2014, we’d be looking at a fundamentally different division right now. Elkins is durable and persistent enough to make even talented fighters like Skelly look pedestrian, but Bektic doesn’t share “The Scrapper’s” cardio issues and he’s much more fearsome on the feet. Bektic brutalizes Elkins for the full 15 minutes.
Prediction: Bektic via unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Iuri Alcantara vs. Luke Sanders
Enormously talented but equally inconsistent, Iuri Alcantara (34-7) came up short against Frankie Saenz and Jimmie Rivera after putting together a three-fight win streak. He finally seemed to put everything together his last time out, rocking and submitting Brad Pickett at UFC 204 to earn his second consecutive post-fight bonus.
“Marajo” has knocked out and submitted thirteen opponents apiece.
Luke Sanders (11-0) smashed Jarred Mercado to become the RFA Bantamweight Champion, then dominated Terrion Ware in his first defense. In Jan. 2016, “Cool Hand Luke” stepped up on short notice and choked out Maximo Blanco in Boston, picking up Performance of the Night in the process.
This will be his first fight in almost 13 months and just his third since 2014.
There are very, very few Bantamweight fighters with the kind of raw talent Alcantara brings to the table. Like Carlos Condit, however, weak wrestling has proven his Achilles heel time and time again. That said, he admitted before the Pickett fight that he had made a commitment to improving that aspect of his game.
If he’s being honest? Watch out.
Sanders is as gritty as they come, but I’m not sure he can keep up with Alcantara’s speed and lights-out power. So long as “Marajo” can stay off of his back, he has all the tools to win big. He rocks Sanders standing and locks up something unpleasant on the mat.
Prediction: Alcantara via first-round submission
265 lbs.: Daniel Spitz vs. Mark Godbeer
The 6’7″ Daniel Spitz (5-0) has been fairly efficient in his young career, stopping five of his six professional opponents in the first round. Three of those wins came by submission, while the most recent one lasted a mere six seconds before his opponent suffered an injury.
He replaces Todd Duffee on less than a month’s notice.
Mark Godbeer (11-3) rebounded from his knockout loss to Cheick Kongo with three consecutive finishes, two of which saw him earn and defend the BAMMA Heavyweight title. “The Hand of” Godbeer couldn’t keep the momentum up in his UFC debut, falling to prospect Justin Ledet in Belfast.
Nine of his 11 wins have come by form of knockout.
To get an idea of Spitz’s level of competition, his biggest win to date came last year against Cabbage. Yes, that Cabbage. I’m as surprised as you are that he’s still fighting. In terms of actual skill, Spitz has a decent one-two combination, clinch knees and the snap kick to the body that’s been in vogue recently. He is also slow as molasses — I had to watch the Cabbage fight at double-speed just to stay interested
Godbeer’s a fairly bog-standard slugger, but I’m not convinced that Spitz can handle bog-standard sluggers. He thumps the big man sometime in the first.
Prediction: Godbeer via first-round technical knockout
There’s a whole lot to love about UFC 209 this weekend. Can’t wait! See you Saturday, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 209 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on PPV.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2017: 25-7
Source:: mma mania