The UFC returns to the East Coast this weekend for a rare Friday evening fight card that goes down at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. The main event features a former champion jumping up a weight class and looking to stake his claim in a new division against an undefeated fighter on the cusp of a title shot.
In our co-main event of the evening, a rematch between a flashy striker and a scrappy veteran whose last outing ended tragically just 15 seconds into the first round. After the chaos that followed their last meeting, it’s safe to say there will be no love lost when the two meet again.
We dive deeper into both bouts below.
UFC Boston Fight Card
Main Card: ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET
- Dominick Reyes vs. Chris Weidman
- Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens
- Greg Hardy vs. Ben Sosoli
- Joe Lauzon vs. Jonathan Pearce
- Maycee Barber vs. Gillian Robertson
- Deron Winn vs. Darren Stewart
Prelims: ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET
- Manny Bermudez vs. Charles Rosa
- Diana Belbita vs. Molly McCann
- Kyle Bochniak vs. Sean Woodson
- Brendan Allen vs. Kevin Holland
- Randy Costa vs. Boston Salmon
- Sean Brady vs. Court McGee
- Daniel Spitz vs. Tanner Boser
Dominick Reyes vs. Chris Weidman
In 2013, Chris Weidman (14-4) grabbed the MMA world by its heels and dumped it on its head. It was then that he stopped the legendary title run of one Anderson Silva with a glancing left hook. After a freakish leg break in the rematch (a TKO victory and title defense for Weidman), the former Division-1 wrestler would defend his throne against the likes of Vitor Belfort and Lyoto Machida. Weidman was on top of the world for those couple of years. But we all know how unforgiving the fight game is.
After losing his strap to Luke Rockhold via TKO in 2015, Weidman was flattened by a flying knee from Yoel Romero and beaten again with knees in a matchup with Gegard Mousasi. Weidman got back into the win column in 2017 with a dominant showing over Kelvin Gastelum but dropped his next bout to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in November 2018.
Dominick Reyes (11-0) began his UFC run in 2017 after a pair of vicious back-to-back head kicks caught the attention of the MMA world. “The Devastator” defeated his first three opponents via stoppage and even managed to TKO the now surging Jared Cannonier during that time.
Reyes later got a step up in competition when he met former title challenger, Ovince St. Preux at the historic UFC 229 in October 2018. Reyes controlled most of the bout en route to a unanimous decision. When he met another former title challenger in Volkan Oezdemir in spring, fans were torn on whether Reyes should’ve been awarded the split-decision that he gained that night. It was definitely a close bout, but at the end of the day, the judges say is what propels a fighter forward or backward.
With Jon Jones having already cleared out most of his division, should Reyes keep up his winning ways this Friday, it’s likely that he’s either next in line or at least ready for a number one contender’s match. If Weidman picks up the victory, he’ll still be a couple of fights from contendership. Though it was at a different weight, Weidman is still 1-4 in the last five years. And even as forgetful as we can be as MMA fans at times, putting a guy on a one-fight win streak against someone like Jones is going to be a hard sell.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Yair Rodriguez
This won’t be the first time Jeremy Stephens (28-16-1) and Yair Rodriguez (11-2) have stood across the Octagon from each other. The pair met in the main event of UFC Mexico three weeks ago. The bout ended in just seconds when Rodriguez’s finger finding its way into Stephens’ eye. Stephens, known for his grit and toughness, could not continue and the fight was ruled a no contest.
The arena burst into boos and launched their beers into the cage. A fired-up Rodriguez was very vocal in his post-fight interview and carried that heat with him to the hotel lobby where he again confronted Stephens and the two almost came to blows.
Besides the hotel altercation, both men have had a lot to say in the last few weeks regarding the other. The animosity seems very real between the pair, and as unfortunate as it is to see fighters getting personal before a fight, it usually leads to some good viewing for us at home.
Stephens is on a two-fight losing streak heading into this one. The hard-nosed slugger was on a roll before he ran into Jose Aldo at UFC on FOX last year. He then lost a decision to featherweight prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov last March at UFC 235.
Rodriguez bounced back from an absolute thrashing at the hands of Frankie Edgar in 2017 to have a “Fight of the Year” contender with Chan Sung Jung that ended with one of the wildest finishes ever seen in MMA last November.
Brandon is a long-time fan of combat sports who has covered them for various outlets since 2017.