Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight warriors Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson collided last night (Nov. 12, 2016) at UFC 205 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
For whatever reason — and there have been many suggestions — Woodley has yet to really settle into the position of Welterweight champion in the eyes of many fans. However, taking out Stephen Thompson would be too impressive a feat to deny, and Woodley aimed to do just that. On the other hand, Thompson closed as a nearly 2-1 underdog, as many expected the expert kickboxer’s range to be too much for the wrestler. Still, this was a massive test for "Wonderboy," and it was not likely to be an easy match up for either man.
Both men put everything on the line.
After a lengthy feeling out process, Woodley managed to catch a low kick and throw "Wonderboy" to his back. Working from the half guard, Woodley prevented his opponent from moving, landing small shots the whole time. With just about 10 seconds left in the round, that changed, as a few hard elbows opened up the Karateka.
Woodley clearly controlled the opening frame.
For whatever reason, Woodley wasted little time in putting his own back on the fence. The first time Thompson threw a combination, Woodley locked him up in the clinch, spun him around, and landed some decent knees. However, Thompson was able to break free with plenty of time left. For the remaining two minutes, Thompson kept his foe on the fence, landing good punches and the occasional long kick. "T-Wood" attacked with combinations every once in a while, but his volume was quite low.
It likely cost him the round.
The third round was very close. Woodley still placed his back on the fence far too often, but he was able to land some hard counter punches and a couple nice low kicks. Meanwhile, Thompson attacked in quick bursts of combinations and mixed in rangy kicks.vNeither man definitively claimed the round, but judges rarely award the man who fights with his back on the fence.
The fight started in similar fashion. However, one of Woodley’s big right hands finally connected clean, and "Wonderboy" momentarily dropped to his knees. Woodley followed up with a series of power punches that badly hurt his opponent, and Thompson appeared to be out on his feet.
Then, Woodley moved into a deep guillotine choke. He nearly finished it standing before pulling full guard, and Woodley had his opponent bouncing and shaking for dear life. Unfortunately for "T-Wood," Thompson gutted it out and finished the round in top position, landing elbows and punches for the final minute.
Heading into the fifth round, the fight was totally up for grabs.
Both men were exhausted in final round, but it was Thompson who pushed the pace. Once again taking advantage of his opponent’s cage position, Thompson stabbed his opponent with long punches and counter crosses. Woodley simply didn’t throw all that much, and a few of his combinations were stymied by quick counters.
Thompson ended the round with a nasty counter that staggered Woodley, definitively taking the final round.
Ultimately, two of the three judges named the bout a draw — which after some confusion — stands as the official result. This was an extraordinary bout, and both men showed a lot. For Woodley, it showcased pretty much his entire style. He’s capable of moments of dominance and great athleticism, but he also spends a ton of time coasting along the fence.
Opposite Thompson, those two traits combined to equal a draw. He had the biggest moments in the first and fourth round, whereas Thompson did better work in the other three rounds. At least on my scorecard, which is certainly up for debate. Regardless, Woodley has two options moving forward. He may rematch "Wonderboy." That would certainly be a great fight, but Woodley did successfully retain his title and may not be in a hurry to scrap with the karateka again.
Demian Maia is the worthy alternative.
As for "Wonderboy," he did very well and showed a ton of heart. When he was able to play his game, Thompson consistently out-landed his opponent, and he was really starting to take over at the end of 25 minutes. Unfortunately, the two biggest moments of the fight belonged to Woodley. The first round was especially problematic, as Woodley clearly took the round without expending much energy at all.
In a five-round fight, that’s way too easy. As mentioned, there’s a very good chance Thompson receives a rematch. If not, he’s at most one fight away from another title shot.
At UFC 205, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson battled to a draw. Is a rematch next for both men?
For complete UFC 205: "Alvarez vs McGregor" results and play-by-play, click HERE!