You could argue that Tyron Woodley is the improbable champ of the welterweights, because maybe it was a lucky punch that took out the ultra-tough Robbie Lawler. Or you could say he’s the inevitable champ, because he’d been toiling away for a while trying to get that shot at the belt. Either way, he’s the champ now, and his first defense is a tough one: Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, who’s got unorthodox striking and speed for days. Who takes it?
Thompson takes the center of the cage and forces the champ to circle… which wouldn’t be so bad except that other than one high-kick from Wonderboy that flicks out like a snake’s tongue, nothing happens. Boos fill the arena. After two minutes have elapsed Woodley grabs Thompson’s leg and takes him down, but his ground and pound isn’t all that furious from within Thompson’s half-guard, so, yeah, boring. However, when the horn sounds, it’s apparent Wonderboy is a bloody mess, which means something got through.
After a minute of circling in Round 2 Wonderboy wades in with punches, and this time Woodley spins and ties him up against the cage. They disengage after a bit, and Woodley’s confidence has him flurrying more – which in turn allows Thompson to nail him with a sweet spinning back-kick to the body. Woodley shakes his head to say it didn’t hurt, but Thompson is emboldened, and starts scoring with his hands whenever the champ plants himself to throw strikes.
Despite a strong start by Woodley, Wonderboy begins knocking the champ’s head back with punches, forcing him to go into survival mode and flee like a field mouse running from a hawk. But with a minute left Woodley switches that aggression back on, and he regains lost ground by standing and trading and scoring – the champ’s got hands it seems.
A minute and a half into Round 4 Woodley drops Thompson with a punch, and chases after him and drops him again, this time blazing away with a barrage of punches that makes the stoppage virtually seconds away. But Wonderboy survives, and when Woodley threatens with a tight guillotine attempt – and frees himself – the crowd goes bonkers. The horn sounds with Thompson dropping fists. It’s not enough to take the round, but the audience loved it.
Chants of “Wonderboy! Wonderboy!”echo throughout the arena, and Thompson comes out for the fifth round feeding off it, stalking Woodley around the cage and landing punches to Woodley’s face. But Woodley isn’t at any point as hurt as he hurt Thompson, so when the horn sounds, you have to think the champ keeps his belt.
Sadly, there’s much confusion when the scorecards are read, with Bruce Buffer actually pausing, exiting the cage and getting some clarification. And yet he still reads the cards wrong, declaring the result a split decision.
Results: Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson is a Majority Draw