Mid-way through covering last night’s UFC 209 main event between UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, I sent out a tweet that read, “I can already tell this fight will solve nothing.” At the time, I felt that way because little offense had occurred throughout the fight. Thompson appeared to be winning, but only by a hair. It looked like he was well on his way towards a clear, but uninspired decision win. Then the fifth round happened.
Woodley came out of the gate aggressively, knowing that he needed a finish to get the win. Thompson was able to stifle the early offensive rush and take back control of the fight. Then in the last minute Woodley rocked Thompson hard and nearly finished the fight. He hurt him enough that you could argue a stoppage was warranted. Thompson was able to ride out the clock to seemingly salvage a win. I thought the late damage was worthy of a 10-8 score on my card, which made for a 47-47 draw, but two of the judges saw things differently. One judge had the same 47-47 score and the other two scored the fight 48-47 for Woodley, giving him the majority decision win.
The numbers tell a similar story of a razor-close fight with little offense from either fighter. The first round saw Thompson edge Woodley 6-to-5 in significant strikes, the second was dead even at 8-8, Woodley took the third 15-14, the fourth saw Thompson outstrike his opponent 12-9, and the definitive final round was 17-13 in favor of Woodley but was by far the most damaging round of the fight. If you look at the numbers alone, a 48-48 score is what you would likely get with a 10-10 second round. If you gave the edge to Thompson in the second and a 10-8 to Woodley in the fifth, as I and many others and one judge did, you get a 47-47 draw. However, two of the judges gave that close second round to Woodley, securing the win for the reigning champ.
Media were split on how to score the fight with five tracked media outlets on MMADecisions.com scoring the fight for Woodley, six for Thompson, and eight calling it a draw. Fan voting was more decidedly for Thompson, with 65 percent siding with him, 14 percent for Woodley, and the remaining 21 percent having a draw.
Regardless of how you saw the fight, in the end, it solved nothing, and many will always question Woodley’s two title retentions over Stephen Thompson. If the fight wasn’t so bad, there would probably be more outcry for a rematch, but it might be time for both to move on to new things.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: When it’s that close and so little happens round to round, it’s hard to argue against a decision either way, but I have a hard time justifying the scores for Woodley. Woodley didn’t do enough in the second to get the round, so at best for him it would be a 10-10 round, but Thompson had him backed up against the cage most of that round so you have to favor him when everything else is equal. Woodley’s status as UFC Welterweight Champion will continue to be challenged by fans after this lackluster performance, and while he shouldn’t have to shoulder all of the blame, he is the champion so he’ll have to put out a more convincing performance next time out.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Nevada Athletic Commission Director Bob Bennett was very critical of Sal D’Amato’s 10-8 fifth round in favor of Tyron Woodley, calling it “unacceptable” and said he debriefed the scoring with D’Amato after the fight. Bennett was also critical of those calling for 10-10 scores for less active rounds, saying that elite judges should be able to discern a winner in even the closest of rounds.
-Dana White said that he scored the fight for Stephen Thompson and that the rematch was “not as good” as their first fight.
-Post-fight bonuses went to Lando Vannata and David Teymur for Fight of the Night and to Darren Elkins and Iuri Alcantara for their stunning return from the dead finishes on the preliminary card.
-The event drew 13,150 fans to Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena for a live gate of $2.385 million.
-Alistair Overeem said at the post-fight press conference that he was suffering from food poisoning the day before his fight with Mark Hunt. Hunt https://www.instagram.com/p/BRPoJNmg54K/ that he broke his tibia in his right leg during the fight either throwing or checking a leg kick.
-During the broadcast, UFC announced Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis for the UFC Flyweight Championship at the April 15 UFC on Fox show from Kansas City and also announced Jacare Souza vs. Robert Whittaker for the same card.
-They also announced a Fight Night from Auckland, New Zealand for June 11 (June 10 in North America).
PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO: HERE
NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS UPDATE: SATURDAY NEWS DIGEST 3/4: Dana White upset that Nurmagomedov’s team brought him to “some random hospital” instead of official UFC docs (w/Cervantes Analysis)
(MMATorch’s Daily News Digest features the top story of the day with added analysis, plus smaller tidbits in the News Notes section. Mike Hiscoe, who writes the News Digest Sundays through Thursdays, has a background in film criticism and previously wrote for the DVD Town and Movie Metropolis websites. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts goes back to 2005, but it was in the promotion for UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie that he really got hooked.”This is my house, I build it,” is still among the all-time great UFC promos. You can follow Mike on social media under the tag @mikehiscoe. He now provides his experienced writing and perspective on live MMA events for MMATorch.)