With just two days until UFC 209's main event rematch between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson Saturday night in Las Vegas, the anticipation is growing for what is hoped to be an exciting fight.
Woodley, the UFC's undisputed welterweight champion, is looking for revenge this time around. He didn't lose to Thompson back at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden, but he felt hard done by because of the judges' scorecards that took away his win and called the fight a majority draw.
It's no secret that both fighters, after that chaos that ensued in the Octagon and the judges' scorecards, will be looking to knock out or submit each other to keep the fight on their own terms.
Woodley has incredible power in both hands that can put any opponent to sleep and nearly finished off Wonderboy back in November had it not been for Thompson's toughness and the fact that his body went into survival mode, somehow powering through Woodley's haymakers and guillotine attempt.
Thompson, on the other hand, has an advantage on the feet when he has time to think and circle his opponent. His kickboxing and karate background will be a huge factor in this fight if he is willing to throw high leg kicks without the fear of Woodley catching one of them and taking him to the ground.
|Woodley vs. Thompson 2: By the Numbers|
|9:59||Average Fight Time||11:44|
Is Woodley truly the "Chosen One"?
Sure, the "Chosen One" is a pretty cool nickname and all, but does Woodley buy into his hype?
The short answer is yes. A resounding, yes.
While Woodley may not be the most popular of fighters on the UFC roster, he can back up what he says. He has devastating knockout power that could put any man on his back, regardless of weight class.
Before fighting Wonderboy at UFC 205, Woodley fought his way up the ladder, defeating the likes of Kelvin Gastelum and Josh Koscheck. The Koscheck fight was a real eye-opener for UFC fans and pundits, as Woodley's brutal knockout power was put on full display.
After taking over a year off waiting for his title shot against Robbie Lawler, Woodley took full advantage of his opportunity and put away one of the most decorated fighters in UFC history in the first round with another vicious knockout.
A majority draw with Wonderboy left a bad taste in the champ's mouth, but as he has shown in his past fights, it only takes a split-second for him to find his opponent's chin and put him to sleep.
Will Wonderboy's stand-up be enough?
As good as Thompson has been in his UFC and mixed martial arts career, he didn't show what he is capable of against Woodley back at UFC 205.
Thompson didn't show off his world-class kickboxing and karate skills enough. There was a lot of hesitation and not enough volume to leave Woodley guessing in the first couple rounds of the fight. When the third round came along, that's when we began to see the Wonderboy who earned his title shot with precise striking and power on his feet.
Wonderboy has been an excellent addition to the UFC roster since the moment he stepped inside the Octagon. But perhaps his biggest moment came in his spectacular finish over former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks, as he made Hendricks look defenseless against the cage with a barrage of strikes that left Hendricks guessing where he would get hit next.
Wonderboy continued to impress and eventually went on to take out the longtime No. 1 contender, Rory McDonald with a unanimous-decision victory. Eventually earning his fight against Woodley, Wonderboy didn't show off his creative switch kicks, question mark kicks or wheelhouse kicks that he's known for.
A little creativity could go a long way for the challenger.
When Woodley fought Lawler, I picked against Lawler for the first time in my life because Woodley had a unique hunger and drive to become world champion. He wants to be known as the greatest welterweight champion ever, and a decisive victory over Thompson would go a long way on his road to securing his legacy.
Having said that, I'm going with Wonderboy because Thompson has been waiting for his title shot and didn't disappoint when he got it. Instead of taking time off after a majority draw that left him bloody and bruised, Wonderboy began calling out the champion again, hungry for more. Woodley was hesitant to accept the fight at first, as he seemed to be mulling over the prospect of fighting a superfight against Michael Bisping or George St-Pierre, but he eventually agreed to the rematch.
Wonderboy seems the hungrier of the two fighters going into Saturday, and I'm certain that he will use his karate more efficiently and effectively while throwing in some wild kicks to keep Woodley from timing his takedown attempts.
This fight will go the distance for the second time in a row, but Thompson will come out the victor in a unanimous decision, becoming the UFC's welterweight champion of the world.