UFC 174: Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Before flashy flyweights Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and Ali Bagautinov ever step inside the Octagon this weekend at UFC 174, ultra-suave Rory MacDonald and powerhouse Tyron Woodley will wage welterweight war.
As two of the more athletic competitors at 170 pounds, MacDonald and Woodley have the initial skill sets to produce one of the better divisional bouts of 2014.
But in a sport defined by literally seconds, they'll each have to be at their best to continue their emphatic title runs.
Here's a complete head-to-toe breakdown for Saturday's showdown pinpointing where each fighter's advantage lies.
There's no disputing who the more versatile fighter and precise striker in this matchup is.
Woodley packs a deadly punch and whirling combos with explosive movement, but he just doesn't possess the dexterity, adaptive range and overall execution that MacDonald does.
Its no secret that MacDonald has struggled in the past opposite heavy punchers, but he has also made high-class strikers look like stone statues.
That's a product of training with former UFC welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre and fine tuning skills other fighters aren't even aware of.
It's that sort of confident prowess in all things striking that should allow MacDonald to score on the regular so long as he keeps his distance, plays the angles, keeps his chin tucked and sticks to his regiment.
Throughout his short (yet torrid) UFC career, Woodley has demonstrated the sort of power that would have Thor shaking in his boots.
Dressed with bulky muscles and an aggressive eagerness found in only a few fighters, "The Chosen One" has transformed into one of the most feared one-punch artists in the division.
In the past, whether it was Carlos Condit or Robbie Lawler, MacDonald has struggled against these sort of finishers. He implemented his own offense in the process but often seemed unwilling to mix it up.
If the 24-year-old finds himself in one of those ruts this Saturday, Woodley isn't going to sit around and wait for him to regain his Octagon confidence.
In all likelihood, landing one of his crushing right hands will be Woodley's best chance to capture victory.
Securing and defending the takedown may be the straw that breaks the camel's back for either one of these guys.
Woodley resembles a slightly leaner Rashad Evans at first glance, and his raw strength and natural athleticism seem prevalent enough to offset the technique and consistency of MacDonald.
But when you consider that MacDonald is not only a good wrestler in open space but more of a crafty wizard against the cage and in the clinch, Woodley might find it difficult to outpoint the youngster at every turn.
Even though he has never faced a fighter with the determination and pressure that MacDonald brings, the fact that Woodley has only been taken down once since 2010 remains too dominant a statistic to ignore.
I should also mention that Woodley is a decorated collegiate wrestler who trains with Ben Askren and has dodged Jake Shields' relentless grappling game for three straight rounds (albeit for a loss).
MINOR ADVANTAGE: WOODLEY
It's hard to gauge how Woodley would fare fighting off of his back considering we've never seen him do it in the UFC, but it's likely that he'd tire out.
Neither MacDonald or Woodley are known for their overwhelming submission games, but MacDonald simply has too many tools at his disposal to allow Woodley to get the best of him on the ground.
Whether it's technique and timing in top position or an active guard capable of creating fight-changing transitions, "Ares" has one of the slickest ground games in the division.
Woodley's power and wrestling could play a role in allowing him to get to his feet, but MacDonald's grappling skills and overwhelming pressure could tire the 32-year-old before the third round begins.
With power for days, Woodley is going to pressure MacDonald as often as he can in order to land one vicious blow.
That means that MacDonald will have to be on the tip of toes to dodge any destructive onslaught that Woodley throws at him.
What that also means is that MacDonald stands as the one who will have to ward off more damage.
In his two professional losses, which were opposite Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit, he hasn't done well against hungry finishers capable of digging deep in the third round.
Woodley's knockout loss to Nate Marquardt back in 2012 doesn't help his case to repeat this sort of doom for MacDonald, but if a motor and chin needed to be picked, it would be his.
MINOR ADVANTAGE: WOODLEY
MacDonald is never going to match the punching power and overall strength of a guy like Woodley.
That's just not the type of fighter he is, and it would seem silly to think he'd actually try to mirror that style.
With that said, MacDonald does possess other necessary tools to keep Woodley's power in check.
From precise striking fueled by patience and technicality to a grappling game driven by sheer athleticism and unflappable persistence, the 24-year-old Canadian is as well-rounded as they come.
That's not to say that Woodley is one dimensional, but unless he's taking MacDonald down or slinging one-punch leather at his face, he's not going to dominate the fight any other way.
As for MacDonald, he's able to rise to the occasion wherever the action takes him.
As two of the best welterweight contenders in the game today, it's difficult to pinpoint a favorite between MacDonald and Woodley.
Both possess elite takedown skills, capable striking from all angles and the natural athleticism to push their efforts to the next level.
But when the line is drawn in the sand, either Woodley's titanic power or MacDonald's point-scoring versatility will spell ultimate victory.
The question is, do you believe Woodley is going to test the chin of one of the best defensive welterweights around?
The answer is yes.
It's going to be up to MacDonald to battle through adversity and regain his footing, but it may be too late once Woodley cranks the pressure up.
VERDICT: WOODLEY VIA SECOND ROUND TKO
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