Let’s try this again. After fighting to a majority draw last November, UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will rematch No. 1 contender Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson on March 4 at UFC 209. Though the contentious debate on who should or who shouldn’t was a consistent narrative in 2016, this is definitely one that is undeniably justified.
Money lines are already up for this bout, so let’s take a look and see if there’s anything to take advantage of in the UFC 209 odds right now.
Stephen Thompson (-120) vs Tyron Woodley (+100)
Opening UFC Odds Analysis
As was the case in their first fight, the champion opens as the underdog. But this time around, he’s a much smaller one. Woodley’s opening UFC betting line for UFC 205 was +120, and he ended up closing around +180 at BookMaker.eu. It appears that their first scrap has convinced oddsmakers to make this rematch much closer to a pick’em.
Thompson is currently a slight favorite in the fight odds, but I’d expect his line to get more expensive as the bets come in. For comparison, he opened at -150 for UFC 205 and closed around -175. It’s hard not to fall in love with his flashy style.
How Woodley Wins
A lot of T-Wood’s bad habits resurfaced in his first title defense. Chief among them was his passivity. As the most physically gifted athlete in the division, Woodley’s speed, and explosive power is impossible to fully prepare for. But he tends to use it only as a safety net rather than a weapon. That leads to frustrating stretches where he’s doing pretty much nothing.
He also kept backing himself straight into the fence – a huge no-no against a sniper like Thompson. Joe Rogan pointed this out during the fight, and it’s become a habit for him. When he’s aggressive and pressing the action, like he did against Robbie Lawler, he is much more dangerous.
Lastly, use your freaking wrestling! In the first round, Woodley took down Thompson and kept him there. On top of that, he gashed open the challenger’s nose with some nasty elbows. You’d think that a former NCAA D1 wrestler would go back to that well, but he didn’t attempt a single takedown for the rest of the fight.
How Thompson Wins
After Woodley caught a kick from Thompson in the opening frame and turned it into a round-clinching takedown, “Wonderboy’s” flashing kicking game was nowhere to be seen. It’s understandable since his best work comes on the feet, but Thompson’s legs are his best weapons. Going back to the dynamic offense would only help him.
Thompson also didn’t take enough advantage with Woodley’s back to the cage. This was probably out of respect for the overhand right, but these are the best opportunities for Wonderboy to score points. He’s not taking Woodley down, nor is he strong enough to clinch with him.
Volume striking is key here. Woodley’s low output and reliance on one-punch knockouts gives Thompson an opening to win the significant striking battle by a wide margin. It doesn’t always work, as judges have to account for damage, but it certainly helps on the scorecards.
Early Fight Picks
Honestly, it’s too close to call. Woodley is too explosive to write off in a five-round fight – he nearly ended Thompson in their first encounter. But Thompson is also the type of rangy, active striking specialist that gives him fits.
If I were forced to pick right now, I’d lean towards Woodley simply because he’s an underdog in what’s basically a toss-up fight, and he has the option to wrestle if he needs to. Having said that, I’d also wait to bet on him as his payout will likely increase – it jumped up almost 60 points the first time.
UFC Odds Pick:
Woodley to win at +105
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