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UFC 209 Reasons to Watch


Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson has every element of a developing rivalry. Two fighters in their prime who have established dominance at 170 pounds, back at it again.

The first fight was legendary – an instant classic.

Now strategy comes into play more than ever for rounds six through 10 Saturday night at UFC 209 in Las Vegas on Pay-Per-View.

In the fifth round of the last go-round, “Wonderboy” started to figure out Woodley, who dominated the fourth and almost finished the fight.

Thompson landed 21 significant strikes in that fifth round after just 22 total in the first four rounds combined. Woodley neutralized Thompson’s awkward karate striking style for most of the fight and battered “Wonderboy,” getting the better of most of the exchanges.

Woodley has the highest striking defense rate among active welterweights and was even better than his 68.8 percent clip against Thompson, who landed just 26 percent of his significant strikes in the fight. But after Woodley drained his tank going for the finish, Thompson owned the final five minutes.

Both men have had three months to study the film and now try to adjust in the sequel.

Woodley vs. Wonderboy is the No. 1 reason to watch UFC 209.

2 – New start for Evans at 185

Former light heavyweight king Rashad Evans makes his middleweight debut after two previous dates were scratched.

Evans takes on Daniel Kelly, who is 5-1 in the UFC and on a three-fight win streak. “Suga” is looking for his first win in more than three years and hoping to establish himself as a player at 185.
MORE FROM UFC 209: UFC 205 Fight Flashback | Get to know Tyron Woodley | UFC 209 Top 8 Finishes | GSP says Wonderboy is best striker he's seen | Woodley vows a beatdown

3 – Groovy Lando gets PPV slot

After engaging Ferguson in a war on short notice in his debut, Lando Vannata followed that up with a sensational headkick knockout at UFC 206.

Vannata sits at 9-1 and his explosive style makes him one of the most fun fighters to watch at 155 pounds. He takes on fellow striking phenom David Teymur in this Fight of the Night contender.

4 – Heavyweight title hopefuls battle to stay in contention

Alistair Overeem just fought Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight championship and is looking to get back to the title by any means necessary. He faces Mark Hunt in a classic strikers’ showdown.

Hunt has won two in a row and looks to hand Overeem his second straight loss in a fight that may not last long.

Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC