UFC 209 Main Event: Preview, Gameplan and Prediction
UFC 209 Preview Game Plan and Prediction
Woodley vs Thompson 2 Preview: The first fight was a back and forth battle of will and determination between both the champion and the challenger. In the end the judges ruled the fight a DRAW, setting up an immediate rematch. But before the rematch was booked Tyron Woodley attempted to set himself in line with a “money fight” a term that has been thrown around quite often in the world of MMA nowadays. Woodley talked about fighting multiple opponents that would give him that much desired “money fight” names like Georges St.Pierre, Michael Bisping, and Nick Diaz. With the last fight being a draw between Woodley and Thompson the UFC decided that the two needed to settle the score. I couldn’t agree more. When three judges ruled the fight 47-47, 47-47, and 48-47 business needs to be settled and here we are four events later– both fighters will get to settle the score. As we saw in the first fight this is a bout in which we the fans get to see two completely different contrasts in styles you have a power puncher wrestler (Woodley) vs a karate kickboxer (Thompson). Each style neutralized one another with Woodley trying to land that big punch early and take the challenger to the mat and Thompson firing kicks and punches from unique angles timing his strikes on the most exposed parts of Woodley’s frame. In boxing terms Thompson “sticks and moves” as well as any in the striking department. Does he have one shot knockout power like Tyron Woodley? The answer would be a no.
Game Plan for Tyron Woodley: The Champion had success catching Thompson’s leg kick from the early onset of the fight. He should look to do this again the second time around–catch the kick and maintain top position and keeping the fight there. This ground and pound style will shut down the kickboxing game of Thompson forcing Thompson to fight off of his back. If Woodley can land any sort of damage from top position regardless of whether Thompson can get back to his feet any damage will slow the challenger down. The tough part will be landing the take down on Thompson as I stated above, he maintains distance very well and has long legs so it will be tougher to wrap him up. If Woodley can’t land the take down he should close the distance and clinch the challenger against the cage and look to wear him down against the cage landing strikes in close distance to the head and to the body. Again this would neutralize the long distance rangy style that Thompson so often implements in his game.
Game Plan for Stephen Thompson: I have stated this a few times but had Thompson put his foot on the gas in that fifth and final round, I truly believe he could have finished the champion. Woodley was gassed from trying to finish the fight in the 5th round and was helped off the canvas by Thompson himself at the end of the 4th round after fighting Thompson off from his back as the 4th round came to a close. A round in which Thompson ate Woodley’s best punch and survived a guillotine choke. But Thompson was hesitant in the first three rounds of the fight. He cannot be hesitant in this fight. I think Stephen might have been just a little bit gun-shy being that this was his first UFC title fight and the fact that he had not fought a power puncher like Woodley until this bout. Thompson should look to do what he has done successfully over the course of his entire career. Stick and move. Maintain distance between himself and his opponent. In the first fight I thought Thompson was using the spinning head kick too much. Thompson should work his way up the head kick using leg kicks and body kicks to nullify the speed and takedown of Tyron Woodley. The body kick is key. If Thompson can consistently land body kicks while avoiding the take down he could wear down Woodley once again.
Prediction: This fight is a great fight plain and simple. As I stated above we will see two completely different styles clashing inside the octagon, which will produce fireworks. I like what both fighters have done in the preparation for this fight. Woodley is working with Sage Northcutt in training, Sage does offer a very similar style to Thompson which is huge for the preparation of the champion. One dynamic I do believe the champ is underestimating is the size of Thompson and the length. Sage is a lightweight and does not nearly use the reach as well as Thompson does which not many fighters do. However, I think it is a positive for Woodley to train with a fighter that brings similar attributes to the man challenging him for his title. Thompson has added mass to his frame something he feels will help his strength in the clinch and in the striking department in terms of punching power. This could be good and it could also be bad. While Thompson could carry more power in his hands this time around, he will be carrying more muscle mass, which could drain him cardio wise. Only time will tell. I think we will see more of what we saw in the first fight. A cat and mouse game. I believe much like in the first fight Woodley has the ability to inflict more damage on his opponent early compared to Thompson. It would take a flash headkick from Thompson early in order to really damage Woodley. Which I don’t see happening being that it is a very hard technique to land flush on an opponent.. especially when he is ready for it.
I believe this fight will once again go to a decision with Woodley chasing Thompson and Thompson attempting to pick apart the champion from long distance range.. the judges will give the fight to Woodley based on striking, aggression, and octagon control.
Woodley wins via decision 49-48 on all three judges scorecards