The UFC returned to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 209, with a main event rematch between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and challenger Stephen Thompson

The scheduled co-main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson was cancelled 24 hours before the event, news of which can be read HERE

A heavyweight contest between former K-1 World Grand Prix champions Mark Hunt(12-10-1-1NC, #8HW) and Alistair Overeem(41-15-1NC, #3HW) kicked off the main card, with Dutchman Overeem the betting favourite over New Zealander Hunt heading into the bout

Both fighters were able to have striking success in the first round, with Overeem landing some hard body kicks in addition to opening a big bloody cut on the shin on Hunt when checking a leg kick from the Kiwi, while Hunt likewise landed to brutal leg and body kicks throughout the first five minutes

Overeem began to assert his dominance in the second round, landing numerous big knees to the body of Hunt while clinching against the fence while also landing a stiff left straight early in the round that bloodied the nose of Hunt, however Hunt was able to fire back with multiple elbow strikes in the clinch as the fight moved to the third and final round

An uneventful and tame first few minutes of the final round were shattered when, in the clinch against the fence, Overeem landed a devastating knee to the face that dropped and knocked out Hunt, who slumped to the mat face-first as Overeem scored the knockout at 1:44 of the final round

A women’s strawweight bout was up next, with undefeated Cynthia Calvillo(3-0) making her UFC debut opposite fellow American Amanda Cooper(3-2), with Calvillo the slight betting favourite to get to victory

Living up to the betting favourite tag, Calvillo was able to get a takedown a few minutes into the first round, and from there transitioned from an Anaconda role to take Cooper’s back after which she applied a rear-naked choke and got the tap out at 3:19 of the round, extending her undefeated streak in the process in her UFC debut

Former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans(24-5-1) made his middleweight debut next as he took on Australian Daniel Kelly(12-1) with American Evans the bookies favourite

A tentative and pensive first round, neither fighter could find an opening or gain an advantage with the first five minutes consisting almost entirely of stand-up striking work, though American Evans was able get a partial takedown mid-way through the round though Kelly was able to get back to his feet immediately

Round two was largely uneventful as the fight continued to take place on the feet mixed with some clinch work both in the middle of the Octagon and against the fence, however neither fighter could create an opening with the most notable action in the round being Evans securing a takedown towards the end of the round though Kelly again was able to get straight back to his feet

The most action in the fight took place in the last twenty seconds of the third and final round as both Evan and Kelly stood and traded punches as the bout came to an end with little action before in the final round
In the end, Kelly got the somewhat surprising victory via split decision in what was the biggest win in his MMA career

Due to the cancellation of the original Nurmagomedov versus Ferguson co-main event, the lightweight bout between Sweden’s David Teymur(9-1) and American’s Lando Vannata(5-1), with Vannata the betting favourite over Teymur

The first round was essentially a kickboxing bout, with both fighters throwing big punches in tandem with hard body-kicks though neither competitor could land the big shot, however Vannata was able to partially land a flash cartwheel kick as the fight moved into the second round

Teymur was able to excel with his striking in the second round as he landed a superman punch and shortly after was able to get a takedown though Vannata quickly got back to his feet, however for the rest of the round it was the Swede that got the better of the striking exchanges as the fight moved into the final five minutes

The final round was much the same, with neither fighter able to gain a significant advantage as the round followed the pattern of the previous two, with both trying to land the one big blow and score the stoppage win, however neither could and the fight went the distance

After going all fifteen minutes, the three judges gave the nod to David Teymur via unanimous decision

In an immediate rematch from their first bout in November that ended in a draw, champion Tyron Woodley(16-3-1) put his UFC welterweight championship on the line in the main event as he defended against challenger Stephen Thompson(13-1-1, #WW)), with the challenger the slight betting favourite to take the title

A very methodical and somewhat uneventful first round, Thompson managed to get the better of the striking exchanges with the first five minutes taking place on the feet with Thompson pushing the pace and being the aggressor though he couldn’t land any big shots while Woodley couldn’t get off any of his big punches

There was even less action in the second round with Thompson still being the aggressor however neither fighter committed to any sort of significant striking, with the crowd booing as the round came to a close

The pace picked up early in the third round as Woodley was able to secure a single leg takedown against the fence two minutes in however the champion was unable to land any ground and pound punishment before Thompson managed to get back to his feet, with the rest of the round taking place in the feet with little action as the fight moved into the championship rounds

Round four played out the same as the previous three, however in round five Woodley landed a big counter right hook over the top that dropped Thompson, after which Woodley swarmed and tried to land more punches on the downed Thompson however the challenger was able to cover up and survive as the fight went the distance

In the end, the judges scored the bout 48-47, 48-47 and 47-47 with Woodley getting the victory via majority decision to retain the UFC welterweight title

By Matthew Singh-Dosanjh