Fresh off his impressive victory over Alan Jouban at UFC Fight Night 107, everyone who’s anyone is speculating as to what Gunnar Nelson’s next move should be. Many are calling for him to face off against someone in the top ten of the welterweight division. But with so many fighters booked or on the sidelines, options have been fairly slim. But one intriguing suggestion has gotten people talking. It’s gotten me salivating in fact over the possibilities. That proposed match up would see Gunnar Nelson face off against fellow karate master and recent title challenger Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.
The main event of UFC 209 was certainly a tough one to watch as we saw two of the best welterweights engage in a staring contest for nearly the entirety of their championship fight. I kid of course, but seriously, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson were so gun shy during the main event that it felt like neither man was doing their best to prove they were deserving welterweight champion of the world. It’s easy to say that of course, but the reality is that by the time either man decided to pick up the pace the fight was over, which left a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth.
They’ve already done the dance before, now as they set up to lock horns again, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson both appear to have a chip on their shoulder. UFC 209 will be the stage for one of these men to prove that they are the best in the world. While the first battle may not have been an exciting “Dragon Ball Z” brawl, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson had five rounds to figure each other out and will need five more to cement who will be the king of welterweights.
Tyron Woodley. The UFC welterweight champion. The man looking for a big payday. And why the hell not? That’s the point of prize fighting in the first place isn’t it? To throw your bones at another human being and get paid loads of cash. At least that’s how things would be in a perfect world. Instead, fighters are competing against each other for a disporportionate amount of money compared to what they bring in. Tyron Woodley wants his big payday and he’s looking to get it through battling against fellow champion Michael Bisping. The problem with that is Woodley once again has the worst timing.
So not too far back you probably came across an article that stated how traditional martial arts is the future of mixed martial arts. It’s an opinion that I still stand by wholeheartedly. The distance management, the selection of strikes, the variety and movement, traditional martial arts striking has all the factors needed to bring a fighter’s game to the next level. Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard Ryan Hall is one fighter who has embraced the idea of traditional martial arts bolstering his game.
UFC 205 is in the record books and it was an event for the ages. We saw Conor McGregor become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two belts in two different weight classes at the same time. It’s quite the accomplishment to say the least and though the Irishman may talk a whole lot of trash, he’s able to back it up with an excellent overall game. Stephen Thompson also acquitted himself well in the co-main event against champ Tyron Woodley. What do all three of these men have in common?
If you caught the UFC 205 event that took place, you’re probably talking about Conor McGregor. The featherweight AND now lightweight champion put on a masterful performance, systematically breaking down the tough wrestler in Eddie Alvarez for a second round K.O. However, fight of the night went to the co-main event as two warriors went toe to toe for 5 rounds. In the end it was a majority draw, with Tyron Woodley retaining his title, but he was suppose to be knocked out. His one punch clunky style was suppose to be picked apart by Wonderboys movement and counter striking. But to no avail, we got ourselves a great fight and one of the best performances by Woodley we’ve ever seen.
Perhaps the most anticipated match on the UFC 205 fight card, besides the main event itself, is the showdown between welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and striking phenom Stephen Thompson. Both men are incredibly skilled with a number different methods of winning this fight. The style clash alone is worth the price of admission and it’s a fight that’s sure to be filled with a ton of strategy. Can Woodley impose his will on Thompson or will the karate expert utilize his slick striking to get the job done? Well, let’s dive in and look at the roads to victory for each man.
In Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson vs. Rory “I Refuse to Write His Nickname” MacDonald, we were expecting one of the more technical battles you’ll ever see in the octagon; one was a kickboxing and karate master with a wealth of experience behind him, the other an archetype of the modern MMA fighter whose only losses had come to the top 1% of his division. Suffice it to say, a sloppy haymaker-fest it would not end up being (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Our predictions, as it turns out, were mostly spot-on. What we might not have expected, however, is that Thompson would almost completely shut down MacDonald’s attack over the the course of five rounds and reduce his face to the mashed-up pile of blood and gore that only Robbie Lawler before him was able to do.
It was quite possibly Thompson’s best performance to date, and one that cemented his name as the next title contender (after Tyron Woodley, for whatever reason). As for the “Red King” (dammit, I said it!), well, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board, by which I mean that he may very well have to hire a team of scientists and graphic artists to draw him up a new nose, because he won’t have much of a fighting future left with the one he’s got.
Head after the jump for a complete recap of Fight Night 89.
So I guess it’s about time that we start taking Stephen Thompson seriously as a title contender, eh?
Matched up against former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks in the main of event of Saturday’s Fight Night 82, the general consensus seemed to be that “Wonderboy” would ultimately succumb to the wrestling prowess of “Bigg Rigg” as several more talented grapplers had before him. Of course, you can’t exactly outwrestle your opponent if you can’t touch him, and it appeared as if Stephen Thompson was fighting from the future.
Utilizing his trademark karate stance and a level of accuracy that rivaled Anderson Silva‘s UFC debut, Thompson not only tore through Hendricks, he did so almost effortlessly. He stuffed the former champ’s takedowns, beautifully managed his distance, and mixed up his attacks with almost machine-like precision, cracking one of the game’s most lauded chins in the process. Once you take away a man’s steakhouse, you take away his fire, I always say, and Hendricks looked like a man without fire on Saturday. The guy with a canon of a left hand just isn’t there anymore, it would seem, and a credit is due to “Wonderboy” for the ease with which he was able to nullify Hendricks.
Fight Night 82 also featured Roy Nelson’s return to the win column, a horrifically broken jaw, and an early contender for “Knockout of the Year,” so check out all the highlights and results after the jump.