Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley: What We Learned from UFC 174 Welterweight Tilt

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistJune 15, 2014

USA Today

When Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley was scheduled for UFC 174 people were excited for it's potential to produce instant fireworks.

Well, the bout did not disappoint on Saturday night in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

In a classic matchup of finesse striker vs. power puncher, MacDonald was the one who came out looking like the next top title contender in the welterweight division.

Fueled by precision, patience and a tumultuous pace, the 24-year-old Canadian made the former Strikeforce standout look like a divisional question mark.

Winning by unanimous decision, in one of the most impressive performances we've seen him mold, MacDonald smothered one of the hottest fighters in the game.

Here's what we can take away from the fight and the evidence we compiled.


Technicality reigns supreme

Matched up against one of the hardest-hitting punchers in the promotion today, MacDonald showcased elite-level striking skills powered by Octagon control and overall versatility.

Feb 22, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Rory MacDonald (red gloves) throws a punch at 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

He pressured Woodley from the get-to, putting together technically clad offensive output similar to that of his winning efforts opposite BJ Penn and Jake Ellenberger.

It helped that Woodley seemed to fade early into the second round, due in part to his muscular build that UFC commentator Joe Rogan tagged as an "unavoidable athletic reality."

In any case, MacDonald demonstrated just how slick he can be inside the cage when he's able to take his opponents out of their own domain.

As it was perfectly exemplified, technicality reigns supreme over raw explosiveness nine times out of 10.


Woodley is not quite there yet

It's sometimes difficult to think that Woodley has only had 16 professional fights.

As a former collegiate wrestling standout turned mixed martial artist, his complete pallet of skills has been an overall work in progress.

At UFC 174, this was clearer than ever before. Despite his overwhelming power, Woodley is not quite there yet.

Pressured by a younger and more dynamic striker, the 32-year-old seemed uncomfortable when he wasn't the one implementing aggression.

It's a position that truly threw Woodley off, but one that will only fuel his progression as a fighter and understanding of how to escape and evade certain Octagon realities.

But if there was one positive to take from his performance, it would be the fact that he looked excellent off his back, holding MacDonald's wrists in place like he was escorting a teenage girl to detention.


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