With the second fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson now officially behind us, in what can generously be described as a high-stakes clash of styles at best (and several things far worse), opinions as to who the victor should have been are divided. Two of the judges scored it in favour of Woodley, while one had a draw. For their part, the media was pretty split across the board as to who they thought won. For our part, we scored it as a win for Thompson, or a draw.
Aside from the debate about scoring in the fifth round (of which there was some controversy as well) the ultimate deciding factor became the second round, where two of the judges favoured Woodley over Thompson. Let’s have a closer examination of that second round using a little metric we like to call the Fight Within A Round, or “
fWAR” fWR for short. What is fWR? It’s a simple way of scoring a close round, by scoring the 5-minutes of each individual minute as a round itself, creating the comparison of a decision within that round. So let’s use this fight, and the second round, as an example of this concept:
- The first 20-seconds of the round begins with Thompson starting to control the pace and centre, while landing a couple of light kicks, before Woodley begins to take the lead, forcing Thompson back to the cage but throws nothing while doing so. The two dance around, in a very neutral manner for the next portion of the round, before Woodley attempts a few body shots that are mostly ineffective it appears. Thompson walks him down against the cage some more, and has a straight left hand blocked to close out the first minute. Close, but Thompson was the one doing most of the stalking, while the strikes were even or very slightly in Thompson’s favour as well. 10-9 Thompson
- This minute picks up with Thompson continuing to walk Woodley down, and throwing a few more left hands at him. Thompson continues to walk Woodley down as nothing happens, pawing with a jab and a kick that push Tyron away. More circling, with Thompson in the lead as he flashes another jab that gets blocked while Woodley continues to throw nothing. While Thompson does very little here, Woodley is the one backing up and somehow doing even less. 10-9 Thompson
- Starts off the same as the previous minute, with Thompson walking Woodley down and throwing a left that is mostly blocked. More nothingness, before Woodley leaps in with a straight right aimed to the body but misses. He gets to the centre for a moment, but is then walked against the cage once more by Thompson. In the final 10-seconds of this minute, Woodley charges forward much like he had in the first fight, and lands a modest overhand right. Nothing of real consequence landed, with the majority of the round consisting of Woodley circling with his back near the cage. 10-9 Thompson
- Thompson leaps in with a few jabs that push Woodley onto his back foot, as he circles away near the cage. Feints by Thompson have Woodley backing up midway through at the 1:30 mark, while Woodley throws a left, followed by a right, that forces Thompson back for a brief moment. A side kick to the body lands for Thompson after their near-exchange, before Thompson goes high with a kick that is blocked. Thompson flicks a kick at Woodley to close out the minute, as he once again was the more aggressive, and in control fighter. 10-9 Thompson
- Both guys feint and flick jabs, with nothing landing to start this minute, as Woodley continues to be close to the cage. Woodley hops forward and lands a right to the chest of Thompson, followed by a light-tap of a lead leg kick. Thompson responds by backing Woodley up, and throwing another straight left that doesn’t find much of a home. Woodley circles to his right, eats a mild side kick to the body and circles to his left, all the while Thompson continues to lead. The final 10-seconds close with another tapping lead leg kick from Woodley, and a stronger left kick to the body from Thompson. 10-9 Thompson
fWR Result: 50-45 Thompson
*Note: The overhand right that is landed by Woodley in this minute is the one that cuts Thompson, and is likely the most significant strike in the round, a case could be made to give that minute to him.
Conclusion: I stick by my initial assessment that this should be a pretty clear round for Thompson. The striking was extremely even, and that’s if you give Woodley the additional value for the most damaging shot landed, otherwise it was mostly in Thompson’s favour. Woodley spent the vast majority of the round with his back nearly touching the cage, allowing Thompson to be the more aggressive and in control fighter, as seen by breaking down each minute.