Tyron Woodley will face Stephen Thompson in a rematch at UFC 209 on March 4. In their first fight, Woodley retained his title by the narrowest of decisions – a majority draw. Woodley had talked about facing a different challenger before a formidable rematch against Thompson.
“That was the fight in the pocket,” he told FS1’s “UFC Tonight” regarding the Thompson rematch. “It was going to happen regardless if it was immediate or later. For the fans, the media, everyone wants to see a clear cut decision between us. But there are so many tough guys in the division, plus the super fights open it up, there were so many opportunities to fight some good fights.”
Thompson said he wasn’t worried. “I knew it was going to happen,” he said. “I was waiting on him to sign it. I had no idea I messed up his video announcing it.”
Now, even though Woodley retained his title on a majority draw decision, Woodley has rewatched the fight and believes he clearly won. “Round three is the only controversial round. I watched it several times and I thought I won it.”
Thompson has a different view. “Second, third, and fifth. I thought I won round three.”
Even though Thompson thinks he won the fight, despite the judges’ scorecards, he has learned and will approach the UFC 209 rematch differently. “There are a lot of things I didn’t do during the fight,” he said. “Working the angles, more kicks. I was a little hesitant. I’m going to go back and make some adjustments.”
Woodley says he’ll make changes in his approach, too. “I will make some adjustments,” he said. “He was hesitant in the last fight because he got cracked with the right hand and I’m going to give him a few more those to think about.”
Keller’s Analysis: I’m not always for or against rematches, although I tend to be intrigued by rematches because I am curious how fighters adjust once they’ve been in the Octagon with an opponent and experienced how they match up. This fight was so close (and so entertaining), it seemed like an obvious fight to rematch as soon as possible. Both fighters have places they can adjust, and I wonder if the rematch will be less entertaining because they work on neutralizing what worked against them the first time. Either way, it would have felt wrong for Thompson to have to fight again before getting a title rematch. I can’t pick a winner with any confidence in this rematch.