Key points from Woodley vs Thompson 1
It was very clear from the first bell that Tyron Woodley’s game plan was to sit back and be patient forcing Stephen Thompson to lead. Thomspon is a natural counter striker, Woodley’s tactics at least early on exposed some inadequacies in Thompson offence.
Without the opponents forward pressure Thompson struggled to measure the space between himself and Woodley, this also lead to Woodley catching a kick and getting the fight to the ground.
The biggest advantage between the two is Woodley’s wrestling background. Although Woodley doesn’t have the kickboxing credentials wonderboy possesses he is a competent striker, Thompson has no real background in grappling and hasn’t displayed any evidence to prove he’s a threat from the ground in the octagon. The takedown in round 1 was a clear example of just how dominant Tyron can be if he gets the fight to the mat.
Perhaps the single biggest variable is Tyron Woodley’s explosive knockout power.
Because of that unique power, Woodley landed the most memorable strike of the fight coming ever so close to finishing the fight with attempted ground strikes then a very deep guillotine choke.
Whilst Woodley enjoyed success in rounds 1 & 4 which were one-sided rounds Thompson seemed in control for the other 3 rounds once he eventually drew Woodley out of his shell.
Effective counter strikers don’t just sit back and wait for their opponents to open up they use deception to create openings.
Thompson slowly edges into Woodley’s punching range dangling the carrot before pulling back to counter with his own right hand.
Here Thomspon anticipates Woodley’s low kick, realising his opponent is in no position to get any power instead of trying to block the kick Wonderboy steps in and retaliates with a straight left.
Countering whilst pressuring is good for scoring points but the most damaging way to counter is without a doubt pulling your opponent towards you and intercepting them using their own forward momentum.
As the fight went on Thompson started landing more consistently, this forced Woodley to come after Thompson in order to regain control and that is the scenario where Thomspon thrives.
Tyron Woodley is the most likely out of the two to finish the fight, either on the feet or the ground. The circumstances I expect to make that outcome difficult are first of all Woodley’s lack of options in his striking, we don’t see much outside of an occasional leg kick, his jab & the signature right hand. Secondly, Woodley’s preference to back up against the cage to avoid Wonderboys pull & counter tactics.
Although retreating neutralises Wonderboy’s offence somewhat it crucially makes taking Stephen Thompson down difficult. We’ve seen Anderson Silva use the cage to defend takedowns effectively in the past, Thompson can use a similar plan if Woodley engages a clinch near the cage.
The other option Woodley has is to press Wonderboy back, although that was how Woodley got the knockdown in the first fight it is surely the ideal fight pattern Stephen Thompson would like. Woodley hunting Thomspon allowing Thompson the freedom to counter with his trademark ability to glide in and out of striking distance.
If Stephen Thompson is more defensively responsible in the second meeting it’s Tyron Woodley who needs to make more adjustments, Counter-strikers historically tend to do better in rematches due to their problem-solving nature eventually they work out opponents habits and tendencies. Weighing up all the factors I’m siding with
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson to win by decision.