UFC 209 Technique Analysis: Undisputed UFC Welterweight Title- Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson 2
UFC 209 is here and although the UFC failed to give us either of Stockton 209’s finest brothers on the 209 card, it’s still a solid PPV nonetheless, with fights such as Hunt-Overeem, Vannata-Teymur, Evans’ return (nostalgia) and Khabib-Tony amongst others.
The 209 card is headlined by one of the most important rematches in the history of the Welterweight division which coincidentally, is also one of the most exciting clashes of styles between two extremely different fighters.
In the red corner, we’ve got, in his own words, the most disrespected champion in UFC history- Tyron ‘The Chosen One’ Woodley. In the blue corner, we’ve got an action-figure like Karateka whose post-fight celebrations include flips and jumps that put gymnasts to shame.
Ever since Woodley won the title off of Robbie Lawler, he has been in the eye of the storm owing to him levying constant accusations on anyone and everyone, calling them a racist.
He took his rants about racism to the next level after his UFC 205 fight against the aforementioned Thompson was declared a draw. Now despite all the evidence pointing to the contrary, let’s give T-Wood the benefit of the doubt here.
Nevertheless, all these unnecessary distractions have got to weigh on the defending champion’s mind. After a long and ugly build-up to their rematch, Tyron faces ‘Wonderboy’ in the 5-round headliner at UFC 209 on the 4th of March. Let’s understand the techniques involved in this matchup of fire and ice-
Wonderboys’ counter-fighting wizardry against Tyron’s (non-striking) striking game:
Tyron Woodley is a powerful fighter who goes against the conventional wisdom of striking, challenging the theories put forth over the years by old-school striking coaches. Now I’m not saying that the champ’s a bad striker, but the striking mechanics that he uses inside the cage are the exact opposite of what a decent striking coach would teach his pupils.
Woodley’s flaws wouldn’t be apparent to the casual observer who hasn’t trained in boxing, Muay Thai or any such striking-based martial art. However, to martial art practitioners, the first thing that stands out about T-Wood’s striking is his flat-footedness and penchant for sprinting toward his opponent.
Now although that has served him well against most foes, in his 205 match-up against Thompson, Woodley kept spamming his right-hand and running into the karateka’s punches. Now mind you, Thompson is not known for carrying power in his hands (more on that later), and Woodley had him hurt, but failed to capitalise, owing to the comical manner in which he’d run into Wonderboy’s fists.
It’s essential to note that one of the reasons T-Wood has been able to cover up these flaws is that the American always has his world-class wrestling to fall back on, against opponents who keep catching him on the way in.
However, against fighters with good takedown defence and decent counter-striking dynamics, the champ is known to falter. Look at Rory Macdonald’s shut-out victory over Woodley for example:
In Wonderboy, you have a much more polished striker than Macdonald and a fighter who has made a career out of countering opponents not only in MMA but also in the kick-boxing ring.
Sensei Tiger Says: Woodley right-hand spam button and duck feet notwithstanding, Wonderboy’s kickboxing experience and spatial awareness make me give Wonderboy the edge in the Striking department.