Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight strikers Stephen Thompson and Jorge Masvidal dueled last night (Nov. 4, 2017) at UFC 217 inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Up until his pair of extremely close fights with the champion, Thompson was the talk of the town. A crafty kickboxer with KO power, Thompson was attempting to get back into the title mix with a win over the longtime veteran.
“Gamebred” has seen it all. He’s scored big wins and suffered tough losses against the best in the world, building an excellent resume along the way. Though he entered this contest off a loss, Masvidal was still hoping to secure a title shot if he could solve the “Wonderboy” riddle.
Contrary to expectations, Masvidal allowed his foe to take the center of the cage. The two traded kicks, as “Wonderboy” stabbed with his side kicks while Masvidal attacked the legs with chopping kicks and little push kicks to the leg.
Things were fairly even for a while, but Thompson began to burst in with fast combinations. “Gamebred” responded with aggression, walking his foe down and looking to get his opponent back. That opened up some counters for the Karateka, but it also allowed Masvidal to score with some low kicks.
It was a clear round for Thompson, but things were heating up.
Masvidal opened the second round with a takedown attempt that led to some heavy punches. It was a strong moment, but Thompson responded with a nice burst and then dropped his opponent a few seconds later. In classic Masvidal style, the former street fighter bounced up with no ill effects and went back to his offense.
On the whole, it was another good round from “Wonderboy.” For most of the round, Thompson bounced in-and-out with hard punches, working kicks in the mean time. Masvidal never got sloppy, but he was clearly frustrated. Still, Masvidal did have his moments, getting through his foe’s range to land some hard punches.
Even with the low kicks, Thompson was simply landing more.
Masvidal went after his foe to start the round, ripping kicks and shooting for a takedown. However, it didn’t take long for Thompson to recreate his distance, where his quick punches forward allowed him to land and escape without eating counter shots.
Masvidal had to abandon all pretense in the second half of the round. He carried his hands high and walked toward his man, firing whenever his opponent was actually in range. This approach worked fairly well for him, as he did catch Thompson on the chin a few times.
Unfortunately for him, Thompson’s volume was just too much.
Thompson’s speed advantage — which is heightened by his stance and range control — was really on display here. Over and over, he was able to fly forward and land shots. After landing, he disappeared at angle, leaving Masvidal to hit air quite a bit.
There’s not much to criticize. Thompson fought pretty masterfully, picking apart an excellent striker. You’re just not going to fight an aggressive and skilled guy like Masvidal without getting hit, but Thompson did just about everything that he wanted to against a top opponent.
Thompson isn’t back in the hunt for Woodley’s belt just yet, but getting back into the win column is the first priority.
Masvidal has a reputation for coasting at times, and that wasn’t the case here. He fought aggressively and with a game plan without letting his foot off the gas. Unfortunately, “Wonderboy” was just too much of a specialist. Masvidal wasn’t able to bring the fight to the mat, and he simply wasn’t going to outpoint the Karate master without landing a shot that really hurt his opponent.
Masvidal gave himself a fair chance to win, but it didn’t materialize.
Last night, Stephen Thompson’s stellar kickboxing allowed him to pick apart another tough opponent. Who should Thompson face next?
For complete UFC 217 “Bisping vs St. Pierre” results and play-by-play, click HERE!