NEW YORK – A wild fight. A confusing ending. And Tyron Woodley walked out of the cage with his UFC welterweight championship belt around his waist, but without a win over Stephen Thompson.
Despite nearly putting Thompson (13-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) away first with his fists and then with his choke, Woodley (16-3-1 MMA, 6-2-1 UFC) had to settle for retaining his title via majority draw, with scores of 47-47, 47-47, and 48-47.
The welterweight title bout was the co-main event of today’s UFC 205 event at Madison Square Garden in New York. It aired on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
In the beginning, this clash of styles seemed simple enough. After Thompson spent the early part of the first backing Woodley up against the fence with his rangy kicking game, he kicked his way right into a Woodley takedown and spent the rest of that round on his back, getting beaten bloody by Woodley’s top game.
Thompson would come back in the second and third, however, neutralizing Woodley’s offense with his kicks and his stinging left hand, outworking the champion in two close rounds.
Things took a dramatic turn in the fourth, after a Woodley right hand dropped Thompson midway through the round, leaving him crumpled against the fence as Woodley hammered away with follow-up punches.
Somehow, Thompson managed to stagger to his feet, only to get caught in a standing guillotine choke. When Woodley couldn’t finish it there, he dropped to his guard and cranked the choke with everything he had. Still, Thompson endured. He even managed to escape the choke, then ended the round with some ground-and-pound of his own.
The final round saw a recovered Thompson resume his patient attack on a less active Woodley, landing with sharp counters that had the champion looking flustered at times. When the fight went to the scorecards, two of the three judges gave Woodley only two rounds, with each giving him a separate 10-8 in his favor. One judge gave him a 10-8 first, and another a 10-8 fourth. That resulted in two 47-47 scores, outweighing the one 48-47 score for Woodley.
Originally, UFC announcer Bruce Buffer read the scores as a split-decision victory for Woodley, only to correct it later, causing confusion in the arena and in the cage.
The draw is a first in Woodley’s professional career, and the first time in four fights that he hasn’t come away with the win. For Thompson, the draw interrupts a seven-fight winning streak, leaving not quite a loser, but also not the UFC welterweight champ.
Up-to-the-minute UFC 205 results include:
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson declared majority draw (47-47, 47-47, Woodley 48-47)