Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley: Keys to Victory for Each Fighter

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2014

Jun 15, 2013; Winnipeg, MB, Canada; Jake Shields (left) fights Tyron Woodley during their Welterweight bout at UFC 161 at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

UFC 174 this Saturday will feature a tremendous matchup at the top of the welterweight hill.

Longtime top contender Rory MacDonald will once again get his chance to showcase his well-rounded MMA facet against worthy knockout specialist and power wrestler Tyron Woodley.

Both Octagon warriors have shown recent success en route to claiming their rightful positions in line for champion Johny Hendricks' next set of title threats.

But when the two imposing athletes lock horns this weekend, one rising dynamo will fizzle out before our very eyes.

Until then, we're able to dissect the bout through a very fine lens, distinguishing what each fighter must do in order to capture ultimate victory.

Here are those keys to success:



Establish an early range

MacDonald is at his best when he's able to keep his distance, pick his shots and utilize his natural athleticism.

Feb 22, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Rory MacDonald (red gloves) lands a punch on Demian Maia (blue gloves) during their UFC welterweight bout at Mandalay Bay. MacDonald won by way of a 29-28 decision. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

By doing this, the youngster commands the center of the cage through perfected jabs, timely kicks and a beautiful defense.

But in a fight opposite one of the best power punchers in the division, MacDonald is going to have to find his range early in order to avoid Woodley's best shots.

If he can do this, he'll enter the third round up on the scorecards.


Utilize his grappling

Despite Woodley's unparalleled wrestling abilities, specifically when it comes to overpowering an opponent, MacDonald needs to establish his grappling at some point during the fight to win.

Whether it's in the clinch against the cage, off his back or in Woodley's guard, "Ares" must remain aggressive and smart to harness his ground-and-pound game to its full potential.

That's easier said than done when it comes to a guy as strong and wily as Woodley is, but MacDonald is no slouch. He's athletic enough and balanced enough to keep "The Chosen One" on the ground if and when he gets him there.



Land a big punch early

It's no secret that Woodley has become one of the more devastating power punchers in the welterweight division.

July 14, 2012; Portland, OR, USA; Tyron Woodley (white shorts) fights against Nate Marquardt (black shorts) at MMA Strikeforce at the Rose Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

His production may come as a bit of a surprise considering he had only one TKO victory under his belt before his UFC stint began, but he's been downright explosive nonetheless.

That said, his best opportunity to hurt his opponent is always going to lie with the dynamite power in his hands, especially against a fighter like MacDonald who has struggled to eat big shots in the past.

If Woodley can land something big early into the first round, then he will be able to knock MacDonald off his game plan, thus commanding the in-cage pace and momentum.


Be the better wrestler

If MacDonald is at the top of his game this Saturday, there will come a time when Woodley's striking just isn't cutting it.

For the sake of argument, let's say it isn't cutting it. At that point, the power puncher is going to have to go back to his bread and butter and look to secure the takedown.

As one of the best wrestlers at 170 pounds, Woodley is one tough cookie when it comes to securing takedowns and preventing them.

Of course, MacDonald is also one of the better wrestlers in the division, suggesting Woodley is going to have to be more physical and technically sound than he's ever been before to get the best of the 24-year-old.


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