By Ryan McKinnon
The co-main event of the UFCʼs inaugural New York show is for the welterweight championship of the world between two men straight out of Street Fighter II. This fight has the potential to end in a few ways. First is a brain hemorrhaging dashing KO from the champion Woodley. Second is a 360 degree hurricane kick (aka the Tatsumaki Senpukyaku) from the Wonderboy. The final outcome could potentially be an awfully boring 25 minute wrestling match that ends with a Woodley decision. 2 out of the 3 possible outcomes are good odds for a title fight with so much potential for fireworks.
Tyron Woodley showed the MMA world he possesses a punch that can KO Robbie Lawler, which is saying something. He flatlined the former world champion in under 1 round to gain champion status. Lawler had only ever been taken out by Nick Diaz in his entire career of highlight reel performances. Woodley made it look easy. Not many fighters possess that kind of power. Aside from his KO cred, he is a talented wrestler and submission artist. He began his MMA career with 5 submissions in a row. Woodley has a strong wrestling base, superhuman KO power, and a burning passion to retain the belt that he has worked tirelessly towards possessing.
Thompson aka Ken, is the All-American Kempo Karate superstar, with a toolbox of striking techniques that makes it hard for any opponent to figure out what he might do next. The only thing missing to Thompsonʼs look is a red sleeveless gi and long golden locks. Thompson can finish a standing fight in a variety of ways. He has a good BJJ lineage, and works his wrestling with former middleweight champ Chris Weidman. Thompson has also spent time training with elite level camps like Tristar. He is the biggest threat to Woodley to date.
This Street Fighter showdown has Fight Of The Night written all over it. Thompson has never been finished. Woodley has only been finished once. Both men are used to doing the knocking out. Both have great fight IQ, and come from distinguished backgrounds. The common denominator between the two fighters is Rory MacDonald. Wonderboy beat Rory this June in Ottawa, and Woodley lost to him in 2014 in Vancouver. Rory might be a great measuring stick to judge how this fight could end. MacDonald is one of the most impossible fighters to finish. He is resilient almost to a fault. Thompson proved his fighting IQ by looking for a decision win instead of blowing his gas tank in an attempt to win early. Woodley fought a younger Rory, who effectively managed distance and infighting to bypass Woodleyʼs power and wrestling.
Wonderboy may have the overall edge against the champion. If left alone on the perimeter, he can beat Woodley up with a variety of strikes. Should Woodley choose to close the distance, Thompson can employ MacDonaldʼs gameplan and grind Woodley against the cage until his gas tank diminishes. But if Thompson makes even the smallest error in his striking and footwork, Woodley will make him pay dearly, and create a setback for Wonderboyʼs title bid.
All in all, the edge goes to Wonderboy. He has a deeper set of striking skills and the lack of ego to temper himself. Most fighters make the mistake of going in for the kill the second they smell blood. Thompson has been in enough fights to know that Woodley isnʼt the champ by accident. Picking his shots carefully and staying outside the power right hand will ensure that the Wonderboy goes home with a new gold belt on November 11.