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UFC 205 Picks: Tyron Woodley vs Stephen Thompson

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.

After seizing the welterweight title in emphatic fashion against former champ Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley hasn’t exactly been given a warm reception. Whether that was due to the fact that Lawler was like the people’s champion or some of the comments made after his victory, Woodley is a man who deserves respect. His fight with Thompson is the first step to winning the fans over. In order to do that he’ll have to abandon an all out striking match. As of late Woodley has opted to contend most of his matches on the feet. While resorting to the heavy wrestling game he used in the past could seem a bit predictable, no one would argue about who the better wrestler is. Woodley has devastating striking to say the least but when his set ups and strikes aren’t landing he tends to go into a bit of a shell and only then resorts to wrestling. Rather than the calm explosive game that he’s used to, Woodley would be far better off getting right into Thompson’s face, punished the lead leg with kicks and always remain in a range where single and double leg takedowns are within reach. He’ll have to stalk Thompson and constantly threaten with quick strikes, feints, and level changes in order to corner the challenger.

Stephen Thompson should employ a game similar to that of his teammate Chris Weidman who faces a very similar opponent at UFC 205. Thompson should be judicious with his kicking game to begin with, utilizing his long jab in the outset. With the height advantage, Thompson can actually keep the champion on the end of his jab and utilize his counters and angle changes as needed. The cage could play both friend and foe to Thompson in this matchup. If Woodley decides to make this a grinding, grueling kind of match, a real possibility and smart game plan, Thompson could find himself up against the cage fending off takedowns and clinch strikes all night. Thompson could also use the fence to get back to his feet, but it’s better off that he remains in space and in the center of the cage. Thompson is going to want to apply pressure at range during this fight. Thompson has always been adept at throwing off his opponents rhythm with strikes made to irritate more than cause serious damage. If the champ decides to explode forward it’s a matter of Thompson conceding space and immediately moving back in to land a crushing counter. Keeping Woodley busy is key to winning this bout. If Thompson gives the champ time to think you can bet that Woodley will uncork a powerful right hand. Countering is Thompson’s bread and butter but it’s better for the challenger to provoke his prey, get him moving forward, then lunge in like a cobra.

There are so many ways this fight could play out. It’s in Woodley’s best interest to make this a slow and grinding kind of fight. Thompson will need to be in constant motion to better control range and stuff takedowns. Look for the challenger to use his striking acumen to keep Woodley guessing before landing fight ending punches in a thrilling match up. Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson by second round TKO.

Who will leave the welterweight champion at UFC 205?

Jonathan Salmon is a writer, martial arts instructor, and geek culture enthusiast. Check out his Twitter and Facebook to keep up with his antics.

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