The main event fight featured far less action than their first encounter at UFC 205 in November, which saw Woodley retain the belt via a majority draw. Although Woodley swarmed Thompson in round five and appeared to have him badly hurt, the champ’s performance was not the dominant one he planned to showcase.
Afterwards, Woodley was asked for his take on why the fight was so short on exchanges, and here’s some of what he had to say (quote via MMA Fighting):
“I want to see Dana get in there and fight ‘Wonderboy,’” Woodley said. “Watch everybody else who walked in there (against him). Watch Patrick Cote, watch Robert Whittaker, watch all these guys that thought they were just going to bulldoze him and they disrespected his style. I did the opposite, I embraced his style.
“You can’t disrespect that style. What happens is you think you’ve got it figured out, and kicks and punches come from weird angles, and you find yourself without [the UFC title] and you find yourself knocked out. So, I know this is a sport where you guys love to see knockouts, you love to see the gore, you love to see blood, guys getting beat up and then they find a way to come back. I love watching it as well. But guess what? I love being the world champion, and sometimes it’s not the sexiest fight on Earth.”
There’s no question that Thompson’s a ridiculously dangerous fighter, due to his striking game, agility and footwork. But, that’s likely not going to prevent a lot of folks from arguing that Woodley played it way too conservative for good portions of the bout. That said, according to Fight Metric, Woodley landed more significant strikes that Thompson, and more strikes total.
It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of buzz there is for Woodley’s next bout.