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UFC 209 Picks

UFC 209 Betting Odds, Picks and Analysis
When: Saturday, March 4, 2017
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: PPV
by Scott of Predictem.com

Fight Analysis:

UFC 209 features a card packed with force, including two title fights at the top. In the main event in a rematch from a wild UFC Welterweight Championship bout last year, champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson renew acquaintances, as they try to set the record straight after their November draw. In the co-main event, two lightweights who have been shut out of the title picture despite long winning streaks will tangle for the interim belt, with unbeaten Khabib Nurmagomedov battling Tony Ferguson. It promises to be a hard-hitting night of action in UFC 209. Let's see what we can come up with in terms of wagering.

Tyron Woodley, 16-3-1 (6 KOs, 5 Submissions), (+110) vs. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson, 13-1-1 (7 KOs, 1 Submission), (-130)
Tyron Woodley defends his UFC Welterweight title against Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson in the main event of UFC 209 on March 4. Their first fight, which was the first defense for Woodley after knocking Robbie Lawler out to win the title, was declared a draw. It was a wild fight that leaves one wanting more. Who can make the right adjustments and come out ahead in the rematch in UFC 209?

The first fight was a back-and-forth affair, originally announced as a majority win for Woodley that actually turned out to be a majority draw. Woodley started fast and dominated the first round and later nearly knocked out and submitted Thompson in the 4th round. Thompson showed a lot of toughness in overcoming the onslaught and fighting good enough to salvage a draw. But while he showed a tough side to his overall game, the result was a disappointment for many who felt Thompson was the heir-apparent to the 170-pound division.

There seems to be what might be an unsubstantiated notion on the part of some MMA observers that Thompson is the fighter most likely to make adjustments. Not that he won't. But there are some problems with that perception. First, at 34, Thompson is not the kid some seem to think he is. In the first fight, all the hurtful work was registered by Woodley, who had Thompson in trouble in a multitude of different ways, namely in the first and fourth rounds of their first fight. Woodley may have thrown Thompson off by laying back and Wonderboy would theoretically be better-prepared knowing that is again a possibility. But Woodley, also 34, is also capable of making adjustments. In the first round of their first fight, Woodley dominated with his wrestling, strangely abandoning it for the rest of the fight. He could easily make adjustments, as well.

In Thompson's favor is the fact that Woodley had a lot of things go right in their first fight and still couldn't put him away. He clocked Thompson throughout and had him in what certainly appeared to be a tight guillotine choke in the 4th that Thompson managed to somehow survive. Getting through a difficult fight like that after having a lot of recent things mostly go his way could have Thompson in a better spot in the rematch. He is a difficult proposition with that sideways karate stance he uses to hop in and out of range. His strikes come suddenly and with a surprising amount of velocity.

One has to wonder if Woodley is just a bad style matchup for Thompson. Woodley is a massive welterweight, likely entering some fights higher than 190. He showed a keen mind and good instincts in their first fight, with an innate ability to make life hard on Wonderboy. Being that Thompson relied on aggression for his counter-striking to shine, Woodley didn't give him the chance, laying back and forcing Thompson into the uncomfortable role of aggressor. Woodley can also crack with the best, as he hits exceedingly hard. His solidness, power, diversity, and smarts make him a tough proposition for any 170-pounder.

Thompson is undeniably a winner who should make adjustments for this rematch. I'm just not so sure there was much about their first fight that suggests anything resembling a fluke. Not only was Woodley the only one who seemed to have the ability to stop the fight, but it also appears if there are any undiscovered routes to victory, they would belong to Woodley. At an underdog quote, I see that as being a lot to have in your corner.

My Pick to Win: I'm betting on Tyron Woodley at +110. He has more paths to victory and was the one doing all the damage in their first fight. There were also some things he neglected to do in the first fight that he could employ in this rematch.

Khabib Nurmagomedov, 24-0 (8 KOs, 8 Submissions), (-200) vs. Tony Ferguson, 22-3 (9 KOs, 8 Submissions), (+170)
Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will duke it out in the co-main event in a five-rounder for the interim UFC lightweight title on March 4. If ever there were two contenders who deserve title shots, it's these two men. The 28-year old Nurmagomedov is a juggernaut, unbeaten over 24 pro fights, including 8 in the UFC. Ferguson, 32, has won 9 in a row and also thirsts for his shot at the big time. Who can put the stamp of validity on their name on March 4?

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First of all, it's a bit bizarre for their to be an interim lightweight title fight, being that Conor McGregor just won the belt late last year. At the end of the day, it's not the real title being contested here. But with McGregor's penchant for not defending belts and looking for bigger challenges, something has to be done about these contender logjams. Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson certainly has a championship feel to it, simply based on the merit of these two contenders.

Nurmagomedov is a handful and then some. He drags his opponents down with ease and is one of the strongest ever seen in this weight class. His grappling is of the undeniable variety and the dominance he illustrates is often startling. It's one thing to show a clear-cut superiority, but it's quite another when he's doing it to some of the better 155-pounders in the world. He is an irresistible force, bolstered by perfect technique, positioning, and abnormal strength. Once he clasps his hands around you, there's nothing that can really be done about it.

In Ferguson, however, Nurmagomedov is facing his most-dangerous opponent and it might be by a hefty margin. A tremendous wrestler and striker, there aren't many opponents who bring the combination of skills, ambition, nastiness, smarts, and talent that Ferguson brings to the table. It's been a long road to this point and Ferguson is hungry to make a real splash in this sport. Ferguson, unlike Nurmagomedov, has shown he can overcome issues to win fights, as he has braved through stormy passages against top contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Edson Barboza to forge victories.

While no fighter goes through a course of years without a rocky moment or two, Ferguson supporters were likely emboldened after seeing Michael Johnson rock Nurmagomedov with punches in the Russian's last bout. With Ferguson's striking having more clout, as opponents are wary of his wrestling, that's something to think about when betting this fight. Ferguson can end fights in a flash and is probably a more-reliable finisher than Nurmagomedov. He can handle himself on the ground and is a lot stronger than some think.

Ferguson is a dangerous test for any 155-pounder. He is a versatile and dangerous fighter and his winning should not register shock on anyone's part. I just can't get away from the purity of Nurmagomedov's grappling, which is beyond anything being shown at or around this weight class. When looking for the trait that could separate these men, it's hard to not give that a really hard look. I'm taking Khabib Nurmagomedov.

My Pick to Win: I'm betting on Khabib Nurmagomedov at -200. His positioning and technique make his grappling by far the most-compelling trait in this fight. While Ferguson has a very legit shot, less stars need to align correctly for Nurmagomedov to see his skills win the day. Bet your picks at an online bookie where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% bonus up to $1000 FREE! --> MyBookie.

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