The rematch between Tyron Woodley and Steven Thompson for the Ultimate Fighter Championship welterweight belt is almost here as the two battle this Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both fighters on the main card for UFC 209 will be fighting to settle last year’s unfinished business.
At UFC 205, reigning champ, Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley held his title against No. 1 ranked Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson with a majority draw decision, although the UFC reported Woodley as having a higher amount of total strikes during the fight, 113 to Thompson’s 60.
Saturday’s fight will test both fighter’s ability to adapt and employ the lessons they learned from their first match.
Woodley is an all-American wrestling champ that is built like a brick wall, but he is not a one-trick pony. His ability to land hard punches and swift leg kicks makes his striking extremely dangerous. Those skills were on display when he dethroned former champion Robbie Lawler at UFC 201.
There definitely seems to be some saltiness to Woodley’s attitude approaching UFC 209.
As reigning champion, Woodley has claimed that the UFC has treated him unfairly by promoting other champions in a larger capacity. He also said he felt race has played a factor in his under-promotion, and cited other black champions that have been treated similarly, such as Jon “Bones” Jones and Demetrius Johnson.
UFC president, Dana White said that Woodley is ill-received by the public because of his bad attitude and argumentative personality on social media.
“He’ll start fighting and arguing with people on social media," White said during an interview with ESPN Radio. "Then he wonders why when we show up for a press conference the whole crowd’s booing him. They’re not booing him because he’s black.”
White said that Woodley has the potential to be the next big UFC star, but needs to stop being a “drama queen.”
Drama aside, Woodley said he will be bringing the heat to this fight and Thompson better be ready.
“Wonderboy, you better pack a lunch brother, I’m here to put this fist in your mouth,” Woodley said in a pre-fight interview with the UFC.
The challenger, “Wonderboy” Thompson, also brings dynamic striking abilities to the fight. He holds a black belt in Kempo Karate, which arms him with fast and dangerous kicks. Though many consider his style to be unorthodox for MMA, they have served him well and are dangerous weapons in his arsenal.
According to UFC statistics, Wonderboy holds a 10-1-1 professional MMA record.
“He has the tools to become champion,” George St. Pierre, a UFC Hall of Fame member said. “Wonderboy is the best striker I’ve seen in my life.”
If Thompson has a weakness, it may be his grappling game, which appears to be on the weaker side.
At UFC 205, Woodley did not capitalize on Thompson’s inexperience with ground fighting, but he did nearly submit Wonderboy with a guillotine choke during the fourth round.
As Saturday’s fight approaches, bettors and fans alike probably feel things could go either way. Will Woodley retain his title as champion or will Wonderboy Thompson be crowned the next UFC welterweight champion of the world—the world will find out on Saturday, Mar. 4 when the event gets underway at 8 p.m.
Robert Salas is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.