UFC 209 was headlined by the highly anticipated rematch of welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and top contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. The fight fell way short of expectations Saturday night in Las Vegas. The terribly uneventful bout finally ended with Woodley successfully defending his title for a second time, with a majority decision victory.
Woodley, who is most well known for his stifling wrestling and powerful punches that often come in flurries, was kept at bay by the unorthodox karate fighting style of Thompson. The amount of respect both fighters had for each other resulted in a lackluster performance in the octagon. Thompson was afraid of the punching power that Woodley possesses, while Woodley looked weary of the kicks and counter striking that Thompson specializes in.
Boos rained down in the T-Mobile Arena throughout the fight as both fighters mainly circled around each other, perfectly content with staring each other down for the majority of the fight. Woodley finally secured major points in the third round by scoring a takedown and landing nice ground and pound shots from the top. As Thompson fought out of Woodley’s leg triangle to get up to his feet, Woodley connected on some nice knees in the clinch.
The closest the fight came to a knockout finish came in the fifth round when Woodley turned up the pressure and began to consistently move forward. This was contrary to most of the fight where he had his back against the cage. When Woodley pushed forward he landed a three-punch combination that dropped Thompson to the mat. From there, Woodley continued to land strikes and dropped Wonderboy again. Thompson was finally saved by the bell, but the late action pushed the decision in favor of the champ.
Although the main event was a major letdown, the rest of the card had entertaining brawls. The lightweight fight between Lando Vannata and David Teymur was moved up to the co-main event after Khabib Nurmagomedov fell ill during weight cuts, which led to the cancellation of the interim lightweight championship bout. The two took full advantage of their opportunity and earned the fight of the night bonus with a stunning display of lightning quick strikes. In the end, Teymur’s ability to out strike Vannata with his boxing and knees got him the unanimous decision victory.
The first fight of the night was a heavyweight battle between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt. Hunt, “The Super Samoan”, is known as one of the most powerful strikers in all of the UFC and it was on full display in the second round. He rocked Overeem with a beautiful elbow, but Overeem was able to regain his composure by tangling up Hunt in the clinch. Overeem was able to land strong knees in the clinch all night. In the third round Hunt was still getting reamed in the clinch and ate a couple knees to the dome, which resulted in Hunt faceplanting to the canvas. The win puts Overeem back into heavyweight title contention.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans made his middleweight debut at UFC 209 against 39 year old Daniel Kelly. Evans hasn’t looked like his old self in a while and that did not change Saturday night. Kelly used his judo background to his advantage, keeping Evans off balance with trips and attempted throws. Even though he wasn’t able to earn a takedown Evans couldn’t get comfortable. As the fight went on Kelly found his range with his left hand jab and uppercuts that led to his fourth straight victory, via unanimous decision.
Cynthia Calvillo made a very impressive UFC debut against Amanda Cooper by earning a first round submission victory by rear naked choke. Cooper was winning the fight on the feet but once Calvillo took the fight to the ground she was in full control. Cooper tried to get back to her feet but Calvillo scrambled for another takedown and rolled into an anaconda choke attempt. She then showed off some savvy work on the mat by transitioning to Cooper’s back, putting her in perfect position for the rear naked choke.