Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweights Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson clashed last night (June 18, 2016) at UFC Fight Night 89 inside TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Canada.
It’s been nearly a year since MacDonald came within inches of capturing the title before crashing in the final round. Opposite Thompson, MacDonald was looking to get back into the win column and title hunt.
On the other hand, Thompson entered this bout on the heels of an incredible win streak and first round knockout over a former champion. If he managed to take out “The Red King,” Thompson would undoubtedly be fighting for the title in his next bout.
The first round was largely a feeling out process. Neither man threw all that much, as Thompson looked to find his range with some long kicks, and “The Red King” experimented with some rolling leg lock attempts and strikes of his own.
Things heated up a bit in the final minute. MacDonald closed range with a right hand and did damage with a follow up clinch elbow, but Thompson scored with his own flurry in the clinch.
All in all, it was a tremendously close round.
The second round continued at the same slow pace, punctuated by quick strikes from either fighter. Neither man really took control, as Thompson was able to land a few more range strikes, but MacDonald seemed to land the harder blows when he closed the distance.
Though it was close, more of the fight definitely took place at Thompson’s ideal range. He didn’t land anything damaging, but Thompson’s higher level of activity may have given him a slight edge on the judges’ scorecards.
Either way, it was still anyone’s fight.
MacDonald opened the third round with more aggressive attempts to cut off the cage. This paid dividends, allowing him to land some hard punches, forcing Thompson to shoot for a takedown of his own.
It was still a close round, but this time MacDonald matched his opponent’s activity. It was hardly dominant, but the Canadian seemed to edge out the third frame.
Early in the fourth round, MacDonald continued his pressure and landed some effective strikes. At one point, MacDonald landed a few hard punches as his opponent traded against the fence and seemed to be finding his range.
For the most part, however, Thompson was able to play his game. He landed a higher volume and seemed to be frustrating MacDonald by the end of it.
It was likely his strongest round yet.
MacDonald got aggressive and took some risks. Chasing “Wonderboy” down, both men were able to land some hard hooks. Eventually, MacDonald was able to connect with a hard right hand, which seemed to wobble his opponent.
However, Thompson recovered and retook control before long. His punches caused MacDonald’s nose to leak, and a wheel kick caused a big hematoma to grow on MacDonald’s head. Thompson even took top control when MacDonald failed on a desperation takedown.
In the final minute of the round, Thompson stunned his opponent a bit. Undeterred, MacDonald continued to walk forward and throw, but the Karateka was out of range most of the time.
In the end, the judges unanimously awarded Thompson the decision victory.
This was an excellent performance by “Wonderboy.” It wasn’t always the most entertaining bout, but Thompson stuck to his game plan of using speed and long distance kicks to out-point his opponent.
By keeping a higher volume than his opponent, Thompson forced his opponent to get desperate. Once that happened, Thompson landed the better strikes.
After this victory, Thompson deserves a title shot.
On the other hand, MacDonald’s game plan of calculated pressure ended up being a little too focused on the calculated part. From his corner, it seems apparent that they expected Thompson to slow down, which makes sense considering his exhausting style of fighting.
However, MacDonald did not push his opponent out of his comfort zone. If allowed to stick and move all night, Thompson will never fatigue. Instead, MacDonald should’ve focused more on landing lows kicks and grinding with his opponent in the clinch to tire his opponent.
Easier said than done, but that’s MMA in a nutshell.
Last night, Stephen Thompson out-worked Rory MacDonald en route to a decision victory. Is “Wonderboy” a future champion?
For complete UFC Fight Night 89 “MacDonald vs Thompson” results and play-by-play, click HERE!