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.
The injury-forced withdrawals of both Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum from UFC 196 presented the UFC with a peculiar, if not unfamiliar scenario, and left many fans wondering what magic the promotion still had up its sleeve after all these years. Would Dana & Co. book a freakish but totally watchable fight to serve in its place, ala UFC 153? Would they bring Ben Rothwell in to save the day, ala what they should have done with Fight Night 76? Or would they throw their hands in the air and outright cancel the event, ala UFC 176? The options were literally limitless.
As it turns out, however, the UFC went and pulled a rabbit out of its hat that not many of us saw coming, bumping up the co-main event between Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson to main event status and shifting the card from its previous pay-per-view spot to the totally free (depending on your cable package) Fox Sports 1 network instead.
“A non-Fight Night, numbered UFC event on free TV? What madness is this?!” we cried with a mix of astonishment and jubilation. It was an unprecedented move, to be sure, and one that unfortunately was too good to be true…
(Thompson vs. Ellenberger highlights, via UFC on FOX)
Gee golly, that Wonderboy Thompson sure can do some fancy things with his feets, can’t he?
If the MMA community wasn’t already high enough on the undefeated kickboxer before his clash with Jake Ellenberger at the TUF 21 Finale, then the *pair* of spinning hook kicks he used to put the veteran away likely made believers out of all of us. Minus a heavy right hook that Thompson ate early in the fight, “Wonderboy” was in complete control on Sunday, utilizing his lengthy, karate-style attack to brutalize Ellenberger before finishing him off with a “Knockout of the Year” contender at the end of the first round.
Check out the complete highlights and results from the TUF 21 Finale after the jump.
The 29-year-old Thatch has made quite an impression in just 2 UFC performances, stopping veterans Justin Edwards and Paulo Thiago with strikes in a combined total of less than 4 minutes. Another fun fact about Thatch: He has stopped 11 out of his 12 opponents inside the first round, and 3 in less than 20 seconds. Got. Damn.
Thatch has also shown a willingness to take a shot to give one, however, which might not be the best strategy against a striker of Wonderboy’s caliber. Now 5-1 in the UFC and riding a 4-fight win streak, Thompson has looked almost untouchable in the octagon as of late, thanks in no small part to his wealth of kickboxing experience – 37 amateur and 20 professional matches, with 28 wins coming by knockout.
Random aside: Does anyone else miss the days when the UFC used to name each card? Numbering Fight Night cards make sense, sure, (and sounds a lot cooler than “Fight Night Broomfield”), but a return to naming the big cards would add a touch of flare to what many consider a continuously monotonous product. It would help each event stand out from the previous one, at the very least, and would occasionally make for some unintentionally hilarious results. And don’t even act like you wouldn’t be a *little* more excited for UFC 189: Battle in the Bayou 2 — Electric Boogaloo than Johnson vs. Stevenson, or whatever.