Woodley edges Wonderboy in dull fight
Tyron Woodley retained his UFC welterweight title with a desultory majority decision over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in their rematch at UFC 209 on Saturday night.
Alistair Overeem also stopped Mark Hunt in the third round of an entertaining heavyweight bout at T-Mobile Arena, and Rashad Evans debuted at middleweight with a split-decision upset loss to 39-year-old Australian judoka Daniel Kelly.
Until the final 30 seconds of their five-round bout, Woodley (17-3-1) and Thompson (13-2-1) failed to recapture the excitement of their memorable majority draw last November.
Woodley put on a cautious, tactical fight until he caught Thompson with a right hand late, landing several big shots on the ground.
Thompson made it to the bell, but two judges scored the bout 48-47 for Woodley, with a third seeing it 47-47.
“I thought I was going to finish him,” Woodley said. “But in the end, I got the victory.”
Woodley and Thompson both fought with abandon and got themselves into dangerous positions in their first bout in New York but survived for only the third draw in a title fight in UFC history.
The rematch opened with two action-free rounds as both fighters sized up their opponent amid boos from the Vegas crowd. Woodley landed a takedown in the third, and Thompson did damage with kicks in the fourth, but neither contender produced anything resembling the urgency expected by the fans, who took to chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” in the fifth.
Earlier on the pay-per-view portion of the UFC 209 card, veteran Dutch kickboxer Overeem (42-15) flattened Hunt to bounce back solidly from his knockout loss to Stipe Miocic in his heavyweight title shot last September.
After two bloody rounds that looked largely even, Overeem staggered Hunt with a left elbow in a clinch.
Overeem then landed two right knees, leaving Hunt (12-11-1) planted face-down on the canvas.
Tyron Woodley (right) takes Stephen Thompson to the mat in a welterweight championship bout on Saturday.