Tyron Woodley is favoured to drop his belt at UFC 205 to the elite striker Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson - and there's one prominent reason why: his opponent's striking skills are as good as they come in the UFC.
WRITTEN BY BEN (@BrutallyBisping)
Stephen Thompson exhibits a very classical karate and American kickboxing style in the octagon, creating an unorthodox method of striking which tends to confuse his opponents. While he shows respect, he is a nasty man to enter the octagon with, and once the octagon door is locked a heel may be in your face while you are on the canvas. Wonderboy has a very long leg reach, and tends to fight using his legs to keep his opponent at bay. Furthermore, he keeps a low guard, which along with fast hands can cause problems to his opponent. Wonderboy can also take a shot, as he easily recovered from a knockdown in his fight vs Ellenburger. Whilst he does not tend to shoot for a takedown, he has the option due to his training with Weidman. You will see the speed of Thompson, but he does well to technically hide his speed until the moment is right.
I believe that Wonderboy’s style of fast hands and flashy kicks will keep Tyron at bay. If he is not flurrying his opponent with straight punches karate style, he can be bouncing, looking innocent, for him only to launch a spinning heel kick to his opponent. Wonderboy’s stance allows him to have a sense of surprise. His opponent does not know when the attack is going to come, and he has slick counters. His speed is often too much for most; the traditional side of his game is perfect to be used in the octagon. Wonderboy will need to counter the speed and power of Woodley. You will expect to see Wonderboy leaning on his back leg to utilise the defensive kicks, therefore keeping Woodley at distance. If you have your weight on your back leg, it is very easy to lean back and hit the sweet spot with a kick once an opponent is rushing in.
However, Woodley possesses a deadly right hand, and along with his sprint he uses a very technical method of flushing and feinting to open space for the big overhand hook. To put it simply, you will expect to see Woodley use a right-left-RIGHT method of feinting. The first right feint pushes his opponent back, and makes them think a straight is coming. The left emulates a straight, and so the opponent will usually block directly in front of their face, opening a large hole by the left of their head for Woodley to swing the large overhand right to the temple, or jaw, as he did against Lawler. Once this shot hits the sweet spot, Woodley will pounce and he will usually gain the TKO win.
For UFC 205, Woodley has recruited Sage Northcutt to emulate Wonderboy’s style. With the karate background of the youngster, it's a smart move. although with all due respect it's hard to find any man on planet Earth who will possess the skills and threats at that size. Woodley must be prepared to wait a fight on the outside before coming in with his patented combination - the only problem is, the challenger might just get there first.
These two fighters two very opposite styles, and we say that styles make fights. The victor of this fight will be the man who creates the tempo and range of the fight. I think that Wonderboy will be able to dictate the range, with Woodley dictating the tempo. If Woodley can quickly sprint on the inside of Wonderboy and land a large shot, he will gain the win. If the contest is played out the way Wonderboy wants it too, I see Wonderboy scoring many points by using his defensive kicks, and perhaps a few knockdowns which could lead to a TKO.
This fight will be a classic stylistic matchup, and it is very hard to call this contest. My prediction is Wonderboy by 2nd round TKO, but it could go to either man.