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05th Mar 2017

UFC 209 main event explodes late as Tyron Woodley squeaks by ‘Wonderboy’ challenge

24 minutes of pure patience

Darragh Murphy

We hope you enjoyed all of the drama, damage and pendulous momentum shifts of their first fight because Woodley vs. Thompson II was a bit of a damp squib.

113 days since their initial meeting at UFC 205, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson shared the Octagon for the second time.

And not a whole lot happened until the 24:30 mark as both men tried to out-patient one another.

Roughly three months since they fought to a majority draw in a war in New York City, Woodley and Thompson tentatively spent half an hour on the same mat in Las Vegas.

‘Wonderboy’ took the centre of the Octagon early on and threatened with his front leg side kick – disguised behind his jab – but, as was to be expected, he remained thoroughly respectful of the lights-out explosive power possessed by Woodley.

Thompson indulged in a brief exchange against the fence before sliding snakelike out of danger in what was an altogether uneventful opening frame.

A marked absence of any urgency from the defending champion drew boos from the T-Mobile Arena crowd but the impact of Woodley’s infrequent flurries showed itself midway through the second round as a cut was opened up under Thompson’s left eye.

Corner advice from Din Thomas prompted ‘The Chosen One’ to make the takedown a priority and that’s just what happened early in the third round.

Woodley displayed pure strength in his trapping of the challenger against the fence but Thompson worked to his feet and set about his earlier strategy of backing Woodley into the cage before the round ended with a stunning left hook from ‘Wonderboy’.

A spinning wheel-kick from Thompson looked terrific but caused very little in the way of damage as the fact became clear that neither man felt comfortable in committing to attacks.

All of a sudden, we had round number five upon us.

The suggestion that a stoppage may be required if Woodley was to retain his title lit a fire under his ass at the beginning of the final round but the suggested takedown never presented itself.

Instead, it seemed like Thompson was set to point karate his way to the finish line before Woodley emptied his gas tank with 30 seconds remaining on the clock.

Referee ‘Big’ John McCarthy was close to jumping in and waving off proceedings after ‘Wonderboy’ collapsed under the torquing power of Woodley but the challenger just about kept in the fight and, like they did on November 12, they nervously waited Bruce Buffer’s reading of the scorecards.

48-47 Woodley


48-47 Woodley.

And still!

That’s that then.