UFC 209 the anticipated rematch between Woodley and Thompson, for the UFC Welterweight Belt, with chief support coming from Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson for the interim Lightweight Belt. The fight card takes place at the new MGM Grand Arena and should be a spectacle for fans as the main and co-main events could be headline bouts respectively.
Woodley and Thompson fought back at UFC 205, with the belt on the line, they both fought to a majority draw. Thompson lobbied for the rematch and got his wish, he believes he won the first fight, Woodley unsurprisingly disagrees having had Wonderboy hurt on several occasions in their first match up. Coming into UFC 205 Woodley had just won the UFC belt, in dramatic fashion against fan favourite Robbie Lawler, he came into Madison Square Garden to a heavy Irish contingent of fans and a sea of boos.
Woodley is not regarded highly by UFC fans, they have not taken to him like other stars such as Connor Mcgregor, and there is defiantly a personality issue which hasn’t translated well across the media. He commanded respect because of his achievements in winning the UFC belt at the 205 press conference which didn’t go down well. Woodley tried to play it cool with the fans but they were more interested in Steven Wonderboy Thompson. The love/hate relationship between Woodley and the fans is something that will still be a factor coming into UFC 209.
The pair do not like each other but have obligated to do media with each other to promote the fight. Wonderboy has previously stated he respects Woodley as a fighter but not as a person, this was a strong statement from someone who is not normally outspoken, which outlines the animosity between the pair. Many believe Woodley is more interested in the lifestyle that comes with being a UFC fighter, rather than focusing solely on MMA, he is friends with a lot of well-known actors and may pursue a career in acting in the future.
Putting all this aside, the main event should live up to expectations if we go by the first fight. At 205 we didn’t know how good Wonderboy’s style would match up against Woodley. The unorthodox style of Thompson bamboozled Woodley for most of the fight, however the UFC champion had the edge on the ground, as well a size and power advantage. Woodley decided he wanted to fight Wonderboy on the feet instead of trying to take him to the ground where he had success in the first round. He was bothered by the range of kicks from Thompson and really didn’t know what to expect from Wonderboy at times.
The advantage this time round is with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, he has shown that he can take the punishment Woodley dished out in their first bout, as well as come back and dominate him in the latter rounds. He would have learnt a lot about himself in the first bout and come back to address the issues he faced. To be successful he would need to keep the fight on the feet, Woodley would know that he needs to get Wonderboy on his back this time round, so keeping the fight standing up is crucial. He would also need to use more of that unpredictable karate kick style, which the fans love him for, he showed he was able to bother his opponent with the kicks to the body and this may slow down Woodley’s attack.
Stephen “Wonderboy” has a chance to make history on Saturday 4th March, check back here following the fight for fight analysis and reaction.