While UFC 209 had a number of exciting fights, including the brutal heavyweight match between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt, the night’s main event, a welterweight title match between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson, ultimately proved to be a disappointment to both fans and critics alike. While Woodley was able to keep his title, the lack of action from the fight drew the ire of the crowd at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The buildup to the fight was quite notable with the two fighters, who are meeting for the second time since UFC 205 last November, declaring that they would be bringing the fight to the other. Thompson, for one, stated that he had already “figured out” the defending champion after their first bout in November, according to MMA Junkie. The champion, on the other hand, stated that on UFC 209, he would definitively finish Wonderboy.
As it turned out, the two fighters’ statements only proved to be true if the definition of “figuring out” and “finishing” the other involved going around the ring at arm’s length and avoiding pretty much all contact. The first round of the battle between Thompson and Woodley was nothing short of lame, with the two fighters practically doing nothing but circle each other during the entire duration of their time in the ring.
— José Youngs (@JoseYoungs) March 5, 2017
The second round was pretty much the same, with both fighters carefully tiptoeing around each other in order to avoid exposing themselves to the opponent’s blows. By this time, the audience in the arena had enough, and the boos from the crowd became very audible. The two fighters, however, continued sizing up each other.
The only real action started at some point during the third round, when the champion lunged for Wonderboy’s leg, granting him a takedown. The tense struggle between the two fighters lasted only for a brief moment, however, as Woodley and Thompson remained on the ground for minutes. Wonderboy eventually got out of the hold and as able to get back to his feet. After the flurry of activity, the match continued in its extremely slow pace, according to a Washington Post report.
The fourth round was a lot like the first and second rounds, with the two fighters keeping their distance from each other. Thompson appeared to be waiting for a chance to land a counter, but Woodley simply did not strike enough to warrant one. Brief exchanges were done, but very little as accomplished by either fighter. By the end of the fourth round, the audience’s dislike was very evident, and pretty much everyone in the stands was booing. The reaction from UFC fans online was very similar as well.
Woodley wanted to put Wonderboy to sleep. But jokes on us! We all got put to sleep. #UFC209
— Brittany (@Brittany_714) March 5, 2017
— Zach 〽️ (@Chattertonnn_) March 5, 2017
— Jacob Gillespie (@Barefootjacob) March 5, 2017
Can't believe I stayed up till 6am to watch two half naked men have a 25 minute staring contest I've been robbed #UFC209
— . (@SlickStones) March 5, 2017
— Julio Souza (@jzsouza) March 5, 2017
Though the fifth round was a lot better than the first, second and fourth rounds, it was far too late to satisfy the audience. As boos rained down from the entire arena, Woodley finally kicked up the pace, culminating in a flurry of strikes during the last 30 seconds of the bout that brought Wonderboy to the canvas. From Referee John McCarthy’s reactions, it appeared that he was on the verge of stopping the fight, but ultimately, the official decided to turn over the decision to the judges.
By the end of the match, both Woodley and Thompson did not look tired at all. If any, both fighters appeared just about as exhausted after a regular training session. With almost nothing really happening in the match, Woodley was declared the winner via a majority decision, and the fighter was able to keep his UFC welterweight title.
“In the last round, we all know I went out there for the kill. I wish I would’ve did (sic) that in a few other rounds. I knew it was close,” Woodley said.
Overall, the quality of the match threw a notable shadow in the reputation of the two fighters, as both Woodley and Thompson pretty much showed that there was very little that fans could appreciate from their performance in the ring. Woodley, for one, had previously stated that he does not get the respect he deserves from the UFC and from the sport’s fans. Considering his performance in his recent title match against Thompson, however, it appears that the lack of appreciation might be well-deserved.
[Featured Image by Steve Marcus/Getty Images]