Tyron Woodley defeated Demian Maia via unanimous decision to retain his title as UFC welterweight champion in the co-main event from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Bloody Elbow tweeted out the official scores:
Maia may have been passive in his first shot at UFC gold, but he certainly wasn't in this one. The jiu-jitsu practitioner went right to work, shooting for takedown after takedown. Not only did Woodley defend the takedowns, but he also shut Maia's left eye in the process.
With multiple takedown attempts stuffed and no answers in the stand-up department, it wasn't looking so good for Maia. Andreas Hale of Champions Fight summed up the situation for the challenger:
While Woodley spent almost the entire first round fending off takedown attempts, the second round saw him pick up some offense. The champion landed an overhand right that floored Maia, then encouraged him to get back up for the striking game:
That would be about the only highlight in the second round. As Sherdog noted, Woodley took a patient approach that may not have been the most exciting thing for fans, but it ensured that he was winning the round:
As the fight wore on into the later rounds, the moments of action were fewer and farther between. While Woodley continued to fight smartly, stuffing takedowns and answering with jabs and overhand rights, the crowd wasn't necessarily impressed.
If T-Wood wants to be a UFC superstar, these aren't the kinds of performances that will help him in that department:
Regardless of how exciting the fight may or may not have been, Woodley's elite takedown defense was on display throughout the bout. The UFC shared an example of textbook takedown defense from the former All-American wrestler:
The crowd let their displeasure with the fight's plodding pace be known, per Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting:
If a fighter isn't truly a champion until they defend their belt, this win gives a new layer of legitimacy to Woodley's title reign. This is the first time he's defended the belt against someone not named Stephen Thompson.
Back-to-back fights against Thompson left the rest of the welterweight division in a state of flux. However, a win over Maia cements Woodley's spot at the top.
Maia's second title fight of his career came on the heels of an impressive seven-fight win streak that included submission wins over Carlos Condit and Matt Brown and a decision win over Jorge Masvidal.
Woodley doesn't see this as a title reign-defining win, though. It's just another step toward his quest to be considered the greatest of all time.
“It’s one step, but it’s not a huge step to be honest,” Woodley said on Monday’s media conference call, per MMA Junkie. “Obviously there’s a guy named Georges St-Pierre that’s out there talking about still fighting. There’s other welterweights like Nick Diaz, who is, in my opinion, a lineal top 10, top 5 welterweight. There’s other fights and other things that could make me the greatest welterweight.”
The aforementioned St-Pierre is generally considered the gold standard for the 170-pound division, and his second title reign included nine defenses.
T-Wood's number is now up to two. Three, if you include a draw in his first fight with Thompson.
It's possible his next defense will be against the very man he's trying to measure up to. UFC President Dana White announced the plan is for Woodley to now take on GSP in his next title defense, per MMA Fighting.
If that ends up being the case, Woodley's campaign to become a superstar will certainly be put to the test welcoming back a legend to the UFC.