UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley put his title on the line for the second time against Stephen Thompson in the main event of UFC 209. Woodley won a majority decision (48-47, 47-47, 48-47) to retain his title.
The first round was pretty uneventful given that a total of only six strikes were landed by both fighters. Woodley circled on the outside with his back to the fence while Thompson stood in front of him just out of range. The two were pretty tentative and didn’t throw much more than feints.
The second round was just as monotonous as the first with neither fighter able to pull the trigger. Woodley attempted a short blitz of punches but nothing else significant happened in the round.
Things changed in the third when Woodley closed the distance and held Thompson against the fence before landing a takedown. On the ground, he was able to land some ground and pound as he advanced to half-guard before Thompson got back to his feet. Before breaking off, Woodley landed knees to the body of Thompson. By the end of the round, both fighters had opened up more with their striking but not much significant was landed.
The fourth round was also a slow round but this time Thompson had started to gain an advantage. Woodley remained on the outside with his back to the fence as Thompson threw occasional kicks with his lead leg, looking for an opening. Woodley attempted to close the distance with striking blitzes on a few occasions but landed nothing significant. Thompson found a home for the head kick before the end of the round.
In the fifth, Woodley began pressing forward more, likely due to his corner’s advice to go for the stoppage. Thompson circled around on the outside, keeping his distance by throwing quick kicks with his lead leg. With just twenty seconds left in the round, Woodley landed a right hand that knocked down Thompson and nearly stopped the fight, but Thompson managed to survive until the final bell.
After the five-round bout, Woodley was announced the winner by majority decision.
“I was extremely nervous—Stephen made it very hard for me to come close,” said Woodley in his post-fight interview. “I wish I would’ve gone in the last round earlier. I thought I was going to finish the fight but at the end of the day, I got the victory.”