Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley takes on Stephen “Wonder Boy” Thompson Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nevada. Woodley’s Welterweight Championship is at stake. Last November in New York City, these mixed martial artists battled to a draw in one of the fights of the year.
Immediate rematches are rare in the UFC, draws are even more of an anomaly. Elements that are fitting for these two very talented, yet very different fighters.
Tyron Woodley is a tattooed Adonis. Standing 5’9, The Chosen One possesses excellent wrestling pedigree and brute power; he owns KO victories, via punches and kicks, over top names such as Jay Hieron, Josh Koshcheck, Dong Hyun Kim and Robbie Lawler. Oh yes, he is also impossible to takedown.
With that said, it was not an easy road to the title for Tyron. Setbacks with injuries, an unexpected loss to Rory MacDonald and being passed over; because he was just not quite the apple of UFC’s President Dana White’s eye, have all factored into the strenuous journey for Tyron Woodley. In Woodley’s first title defense it was more of the same.
After five grueling rounds with Wonder Boy, Tyron Woodley thought he was awarded a majority decision victory; at least that is what ring announcer Bruce Buffer reiterated to The Madison Square Garden crowd and PPV audience. However, halfway through his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, the UFC brass rained on Woodley’s parade and revealed the fight should have been announced as a draw. Woodley retains his title, however he does not get a W. Only to Woodley can such a thing happen.
Stephen Thompson is a tall drink of water with matinee idol looks. If he ever decided to retire from the cage, Wonder Boy has a career waiting for him in Hollywood; would you not cast him as the super hero Nightwing? Oh yes, and he can fight.
Thompson’s long frame, wide stance and ability to fluidly switch from righty to lefty, all factor into why he is a top mixed martial artist. Wonder Boy can touch you with his karate strikes from a wide range of angles and distance, even when you cannot get to him, Wonder Boy is always in striking range.
Thompson’s popularity soared after he destroyed the durable Johny Hendricks, in one round, back in February of 2016. Stephen parlayed that success into a dominate decision win over Rory MacDonald and an eventual title shot against Woodley.
Thompson foray into championship fights began in arduous fashion. In round one, Woodley took the fight to the ground and dominated the opening stanza with a brutal ground and pound attack that busted open Thompson’s face.
Round four was even more treacherous for Wonder Boy as he ate hellacious strikes from Woodley and escaped a well-executed guillotine choke. Despite Woodley’s dominance in those two rounds, it was only good enough to secure him a draw. Only against Wonder Boy can such a circumstance occur.
The big question now is what to expect from the rematch. Can these two, unique mixed martial artists top their November classic in New York under the lights of Las Vegas? Will Woodley make more of a decisive effort to take the fight to the ground? Can Wonder Boy pick up on the momentum he gained in round 5? Will a winner be declared?
My bet; well I do not bet, however, if you are willing to give me a couple of shekels to use, my bet is on Woodley.
With such a quick turnaround for the fight, both these fighters are still fresh in each other’s mind, my guess is that favors the guy who had the more dominate moments.
Woodley abandoned the ground game that was so successful for him in round one. Despite conceding his wrestling, the most dominate aspect of his game, Woodley almost stopped Thompson in round four and earned a draw. Expect Woodley to infuse more of his ground game and stop Thompson within three rounds.
The danger for Woodley is Thompson withstood his best strikes and escaped what appeared to be an unescapable submission attempt. After such tense moments, Thompson looked relatively fresh and ready for combat in round five. In his professional career, Thompson has never been stopped. What will it take? The Chosen one? I will bet your money on it.
Zutes Boxing Talk & Zutes MMA Talk are podcasts that bring you the world of combat sports straight up with no twists. In each episode, “Zute” calls upon the best boxing & MMA minds in the business to talk about the current state of the fight game, and interviews some of the best fighters in the world of combat sports. Carlos Palomino, Mikey Garcia Sergey Kovalev, Shonie Carter and Jeremy Horn are among the guests that have been featured on the podcast.
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