ByBas Rutten, writer at
Official Creators profile of Bas Rutten. Retired MMArtist, entertainer, host for the podcast
Bas Rutten

There’s just a few days until the big rematch between and happens at , and I think it’s going to be a great fight. The first fight at left us with some questions, so now we might just get a definitive answer to them when these two step back into the Octagon.

Before their rumble in Vegas, let’s take a closer look at what makes each one a threat to the other.

Tyron Woodley

Woodley took Thompson down on the first roundhouse kick that "Wonderboy" made. This is important because when Thompson leans forward, even a little bit (has his weight on his front leg), he will kick with the back leg, and when he leans a little more backwards (has his weight on his back leg), he kicks with the front leg. Also, when he leans forward, he will use his hands, which of course he doesn’t do when he leans backward.

Woodley threw a right straight the last 10 seconds of round two, and while it missed, it came really close because it had zero load up, so he needs to go back to this on Saturday night. Tyron needs to start with straights to the body and add low kicks, and he needs to look at Thompson’s face (locked in, not even blink down), then hit the body.

"Wonderboy" will lean back on the straights, so he will hit the body, and because he leans back, his front leg (thigh muscle) is relaxed, which means when you kick it, the kick will have about 10 times more impact than when he can flex those muscles. The shin will go through the muscles like a knife through butter. When Thompson kicks, Woodley needs to block and shoot in immediately. Don’t just rely on blocking, though, because those attacks will still keep coming.

Another thing Woodley should have learned from their first meeting is that when he attacks with his hands, he gets countered, but the counter is just one power shot. You can anticipate this, so throw a jab, expect the right hand counter, and counter that counter. He also learned that when he presses Thompson, he’s doing really well, so push the fight. Respect Thompson’s striking, but don’t respect it too much. Fight up close (in a phone booth) so it’s harder for Wonderboy to use his legs.

Instead of countering with strikes, he can also shoot for a takedown. Finally, get "Wonderboy" against the fence since he likes to have the center of the cage. Pushing the fight is the best thing for the champ to do, but with his fast twitch fibers (explosive muscles), can he do that for five rounds if it goes the distance?

Stephen Thompson

When Woodley timed the first takedown when they fought last year, he might have looked at his body positioning (mentioned above). Leaning forward, kicking with the back leg, leaning backwards, kicking with the front leg. So, he might be able to trick Woodley.

Early in the fight, when he leans forward, he should kick with his front leg, like a front or side kick. It’s a little harder because he’s leaning forward a bit, but Woodley will not expect that. Thompson is flexible enough to do this, and it would be a good thing to do to start confusing Tyron.

Once Woodley attacks, Stephen shouldn’t just lean backwards to let him miss, he should also bring his hands up, because when he leans backwards, he exposes his body which could become a target. His head can only go back so far (by leaning backwards), so it becomes a stationary target. Just think Weidman vs. Silva the first time they met.

I would counter with combinations as well, and not just strikes, preferably a punch(es)-kick combination. He should keep the center of the cage like he did most of the time in their last fight. The times in their first fight that didn’t go well for him was when he had his back against the cage.

If it goes to the ground, he needs to get Woodley in full guard, which is always better than half guard. When you allow him into half guard, look for reversals, as those are pretty easy to make. At the very least he should try, because “if you don’t shoot, you always miss.”

I know Woodley is a great wrestler, but everybody can be reversed. Additionally, when Woodley underestimates "Wonderboy’s" ground skills, it might work to his advantage. Even when he goes for a reversal and Woodley puts a hand out to stop that reversal, these are the times you can “escape through the backdoor” underneath that armpit. Again, why not try, because doing nothing will get you nothing. Giving it the old “college try” might actually get you out of tight situations.

I’m definitely looking forward to this fight as well as the co-main event!


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