UFC 209: What’s Next for Woodley

UFC 209 ended on a sour note as the main event was filled with a chorus of boos, which has fans clamoring for a new champion at welterweight.

Just like that, the rematch we’ve all waited for came and went and the fan criticism towards UFC Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley has reached its highest point. A five round split decision win over Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson failed to silence the naysayers. Woodley’s quest to becoming the greatest welterweight of all time hit a snag, but not to worry, the sage is over. It’s safe to say the chapter of “Wonderboy” and “The Chosen One” is closed for good, which means the champ will move onto his next title defense. Judging by the minimal damage taken by Woodley, there is a strong chance we’ll be seeing Woodley step into the octagon sooner than later.

With Demian Maia officially booked against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 on May 11th, Woodley will be afforded the opportunity to sit back and await the winner. Although he is 39 years old, Maia has been unbeaten in his last six bouts, which includes his latest quick submission victories against Carlos Condit, Matt Brown, Neil Magny. Maia’s last loss came against Rory MacDonald in February 2014 at UFC 170 via unanimous decision. Maia’s jiu jitsu has been near perfect as of late and although everybody knows it’s coming, they cannot stop it. Maia’s ability to take his opponents down and strangle them has revitalized his career at welterweight, but the former middleweight contender has a major hurdle in front of him.

Enter the striking specialist with wrestling to boot, Jorge Masvidal who coincidentally is also coming off his biggest win. Masvidal poses an immediate threat since fights start standing up, but there are still other variables that come into play. For example, both men have faced primarily striker friendly opponents in their last three bouts. Masvidal will spend more time defending grappling attacks from Maia than ever before, while Maia will be dealing with an opponent with a wrestling pedigree unlike Condit, Brown or Nelson.

Both men have shown a lot more aggression in their attack as of late, which could make for a classic match up. Although, it’s been seven months since Maia’s last outing in a contest that lasted a little over two minutes. Both men’s losses have mainly consisted of decision losses, which could mean both men will look to end it before the 15 minute mark.

The UFC has shown partiality towards high profile fighters and Nick Diaz remains in that realm despite experiencing his last win in 2011 against BJ Penn. The Diaz brothers were in attendance on Saturday night and although the two have turned down multiple fights and instead remained on the sidelines until they are paid what they believe they’re worth, things could change fairly quickly. Look no further than Georges St Pierre as an example that the two sides could come to a a compromise when things appear bleak. The potential fight itself could be closer than many once believed.

We’ve seen Woodley’s tendency to keep his back up against the cage when pressured, which is Diaz’s bread and butter and unlike Thomson, Diaz’s output has a higher tendency. Diaz also possess a granite chin, which could help him if he finds himself on the receiving end of Woodley’s infamous blitz. The deciding factor lies on Woodley’s wrestling and it’s safe to say Diaz has no answer for it, but we could see Woodley stand and trade in an attempt to beat Diaz at his own game while winning back some fans in the process. But, that’s a long shot.

Then there is the biggest name in the game, Conor McGregor. He has expressed interest in going after Woodley’s title and even suggested he’d do it fairly easily and seeing as Woodley currently finds himself as the biggest black hat in MMA today, McGregor could be the hero that fans are clamoring for. If the proposed fight against Floyd Mayweather doesn’t come to fruition, we could see McGregor skip out on the lightweight division and chase Woodley after watching a lackluster performance on Saturday night. McGregor fans sure like his chances if they didn’t before Woodley’s latest defense and there is no doubt Woodley will accept the long coveted money fight.

The welterweight division will draw further interest after Robbie Lawler deemed himself ready to get back into action. Perhaps the UFC will attempt to rebook Lawler against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Then there is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson who could use some time off after being dropped a few times against Woodley just months after nearly being finished at UFC 205. When he returns perhaps the UFC offers him a fight against someone who will bring the fight to him. Say, Carlos Condit or even a Neil Magny. Then there is a wild card who find himself a free agent at the moment. The always exciting Lorenz Larkin could find himself back in the promotion if all goes well on the business end of things. Larkin pulled off an impressive finish of Neil Magny in his last outing at UFC 202. He also holds victories over Jorge Masvidal and Jorge Masvidal and could find his way among the division’s best.


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