The rematch is set between UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and the Wonderboy himself, Stephen Thompson.
Headlining a stacked UFC 209 card in Las Vegas this Saturday night, the two fighters will enter the Octagon to settle matters once and for all after a majority draw was the result of their first fight back at UFC 205.
While many fans and MMA pundits hailed the first fight as a fight-of-the-year candidate, I put myself in the minority. The first fight between these two welterweights was quite underwhelming until the third round, when Wonderboy finally began to show some signs of life while Woodley began to rain haymakers on Thompson's chin later in the fourth.
If it weren't for a controversial decision by the judges' scorecards, it's likely that this fight wouldn't be happening right away, as Demien Maia would've been granted a title shot but now he's been relegated to fighting Jorge Masvidal in a bout that gets him nowhere closer to a title fight.
Not much as changed for either Woodley or Thompson since they last met in November at Madison Square Garden, but the winner of this fight will be decided by which fighter makes the necessary changes to their respective game plan to go out and go for the finish.
Will Wonderboy be willing to throw more leg kicks and push the fear of getting taken down out of his mind, or will Woodley fight smart and use his wrestling to take away Thompson's kickboxing on the feet?
It's safe to call this rematch a chess match.
|Woodley vs. Thompson 2: UFC 209 Odds to Win|
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Both fighters look ready to go
If there is one thing fight fans can be guaranteed to see this Saturday night, it's that there won't be much love lost between these two opponents. Both fighters have been doing media together for months on end at this point, and all they want to do is step into the cage and slug it out.
During the UFC's open workouts, we saw Thompson showing off his variety of kicks that he will put on display Saturday night. In the first fight between the two, Thompson didn't show off the creativity that he usually does in the cage, occasionally throwing question-mark kicks and wheelhouse kicks to the chin or temple to get a finish.
He would be wise to mix in some of those moves to remain unpredictable against an opponent who would love nothing more than to get him on the ground and smash his face into the canvas.
Woodley's approach to this fight, for the most part, is to replicate what he did in two of the rounds in the last fight. In particular, he should try to copy Round 1, where he got Thompson on the ground early and laid down some ground-and-pound, including a vicious elbow that cut Thompson's nose open.
Whether it was cardio or something else that Thompson did to change things, Woodley didn't go for another takedown after the opening round, choosing to stand up and box with a world champion kickboxer. It was a surprising decision, but he did find some success in the fourth round when he sent Wonderboy to the ground twice with a couple of haymakers.
For Woodley to come out victorious, he needs to fight smart and not trade with Wonderboy. Otherwise, things could turn south for him.
Going against the champ is always tough, but it's hard to imagine that Thompson isn't going to come out on top after asking for this fight and getting the rematch he wanted so badly.
It's possible that while looking for a spectacular knockout, Woodley catches Wonderboy with a right hook that puts him to sleep. But Thompson has a high fighter IQ that he will utilize against a guy who is just looking to take his head off.
Wonderboy will use his kickboxing background to his advantage in this fight, scoring points with the judges with leg, body and head kicks and then immediately backing away to avoid any counter-strikes. If Thompson sees an opening as Woodley presses forward, he'll go for it, but he won't give Woodley the chance to take him down on Saturday.
This fight will go the distance once more, but it won't be as close of a contest. Wonderboy will win by unanimous decision.