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Reyes to ruin Weidman’s 205lbs debut? Get UFC on ESPN 6 tips

Leigh Copson 17 Oct 2019
Chris Weidman (credit:Jason Silva/Zuma Press/PA Images)

Dominick Reyes v Chris Weidman predictions for UFC on ESPN 6 on Friday, October 18. Can Chris Weidman make a winning debut at light-heavyweight when he faces top-five ranked Dominick Reyes, and who will come out on top when Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens run it again in Boston? Read on for our free predictions and betting tips for UFC on ESPN 6.

Dominick Reyes v Chris Weidman

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman is making the jump up to light-heavyweight in an attempt to kick-start a career that has stalled dramatically over the past couple of years. Weidman was on top of the world when he pulled off a gigantic upset to dethrone the legendary Anderson Silva back 2013 and went on to successfully defend the 185lb title three times, but he lost that title to Luke Rockhold in December 2015 and it has been pretty much downhill from there. The 35-year-old has now lost four of his last five fights, all via strikes, so could a move up to the 205lb division be just what the doctor ordered for the ‘All-American’? He has already started making comments towards current champion Jon Jones, but before he can even think about trying to end Jones’ dominance of the light-heavyweight division he actually needs to win a fight in the division – and his debut bout is something of a baptism of fire.

Dominick Reyes’ most recent outing, a split decision win over Volkan Oezdemir in March, was certainly a highly controversial one, but that should not take away from the fact that the 29-year-old has established himself as a leading contender for the light-heavyweight title thanks to his perfect 11-0 record, and if Reyes can knock off a former champion, albeit an ex-middleweight title-holder, that will almost certainly help him strengthen his calls for a shot at Jon Jones. So can Reyes move ever closer to a crack at the gold, or will Weidman signal his arrival in the 205lb division in spectacular fashion by beating one of the top dogs in the rankings?

Weidman simply has to get this fight to the ground because he has no business standing with Reyes. The good news for him is that Reyes has not faced a wrestler of his calibre, but the bad news is that there are so many question marks surrounding Weidman at 205 that it is tough to predict that he will be able to get ‘The Devastator’ off his feet. And if he cannot do that then it is highly likely that the former champion will be staring up at the lights at the conclusion of his light-heavyweight debut. I am not completely ruling out Weidman, but he has been knocked out in four of his last five bouts and he is now stepping up in weight to face a man who has finished five of his last eight opponents with strikes and has a striking skill set that can expose Weidman’s weaknesses and finish him. I am backing Reyes to get the job done inside the distance here.

Yair Rodriguez v Jeremy Stephens

Fight fans have not had to wait too long for these two men to ‘run it again’. Yair Rodriguez and Jeremy Stephens met on the Fight Night card in Mexico last month but the bout lasted just 15 seconds when an accidental eye poke by Rodriguez caused a no contest and sent Stephens to the hospital. The finish to that fight sparked ugly scenes in the stands and since then these two men have not held back when taking verbal shots at each other. Now they will get another chance to swap those spoken jabs for physical strikes. The question is, who will come out on top.

Rodriguez may be going into this fight on the back of arguably the biggest win of his career, and he may be knocking on the door to the top five in the featherweight division, but it would be fair to say that his career has stalled over the past couple of years. The 26-year-old Mexican suffered his first defeat inside the Octagon in May 2017 when an eye injury forced the doctor to step in and call off his fight with Frankie Edgar, and since that date he has fought just once. A year after that loss Rodriguez was axed by the UFC for apparently refusing a couple of proposed fights, but his exile did not last long and a few weeks later it was announced that ‘El Pantera’ was back on the UFC roster, with his return bout coming in November when he took on ‘Korean Zombie’ Chan Sung Jung on a Fight Night card. Rodriguez was on the brink of a losing return as he trailed on the scorecards heading into the final few seconds of the fight, but he turned it around in sensational fashion with a highlight reel knockout that will be replayed for years and years to come. As the two men traded shots in the dying moments, Rodriguez landed an elbow from an almost impossible angle to knock out ‘Korean Zombie’ with just one second remaining in the bout. It was an incredible end to the contest, but it once again signalled that ‘El Pantera’ is a major player in the featherweight division and if he can win back-to-back fights for the first time over two-and-a-half years then he could find himself in the top five in the rankings when they are released in the wake of this event. So can he?

Standing opposite the talented 26-year-old will be one of the sport’s grizzled veteran in Stephens, a man who has never quite been a leading contender for UFC gold but has become something of a gatekeeper in the division. The 33-year-old American has 44 professional bouts on his record, of which 30 have come inside the world famous Octagon, and he has shared the cage with a who’s who of fighters over the years, albeit with mixed results. ‘Lil Heathen’ is 28-16 in his career and although that record is hardly something that screams ‘Hall of Fame’, it should not be disrespected because the vast majority of those losses have come against the absolute cream of the crop at that time. He does have some notable scalps on his record too – namely former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao and ex-Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez – so he is more than capable of knocking off top-calibre opposition on his day. A big reason for that is his power – Conor McGregor may have famously mocked Stephens during a press conference a couple of years ago but the 44-fight veteran did have a point when he boasted about his fight-stopping power. 19 of his 28 professional victories have come via strikes and if he can land a big shot on Rodriguez here then an upset could be in the making.

I do not expect that to happen though. The problem Stephens has is that he relies too much on that power. Despite being a standout wrestler during his high school days, ‘Lil Heathen’ appears reluctant to use those skills, instead opting to stand an trade strikes in the hope that he will land that one big bomb that ends the contest. When things do not play out how he wants them to, he does not have it in him to switch tact and go about his business another way. Against Zabit Magomedshirapov he endured a frustrating night as the Dagestani ace fought at range to nullify Stephens’ striking power, and that outing will provide the blueprint to victory for Rodriguez, who has a similar style to that of Magomedshirapov.

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Reyes to ruin Weidman’s 205lbs debut? Get UFC on ESPN 6 tips

Dominick Reyes v Chris Weidman predictions for UFC on ESPN 6 on Friday, October 18.

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