Stephen Thompson Praises Woodley’s Performance Against Maia

Tyron Woodley
Image Credit: Getty Images

Stephen Thompson defended former opponent Tyron Woodley’s “smart” tactics in his UFC 214 title defense against Demian Maia

While “The Chosen One” was blasted for what was perceived to be a lackluster display, “Wonderboy” saw things differently.

Thompson, who fought Woodley on two separate occasions in the past twelve months, confirmed that Woodley had employed the right tactics when it mattered (via BJPenn.com):

Well I predicted the Tyron was going to do exactly what he went out there and did. Yea the fans weren’t very happy, but it was a very smart fight for Tyron. I mean anybody who steps out there with Demian Maia, it is going to end up being a fight just like that. Demian is not an exciting fighter and he kind of dumbs down the fight when he steps out there with anybody. You have to be so careful because you don’t want him to close that gap. He’s got great timing so if you over extend yourself kicking or punching, he is going to get on your legs and take you down. So, I thought Tyron played a really smart fight. He ended up blackening his eye in the first-round and man he stuffed everyone of Maia’s shots. Which I thought would happen. I mean maybe Tyron could have pressured some more at the end, but on the other side of that you have to be so careful in there with Maia. If you make one little mistake he can take advantage of it and choke you out. So, I thought it was a good game plan and good execution from Tyron, man.”

Maia is widely considered to be the greatest exponent of BJJ in MMA. Taking this into consideration is key when tackling the Brazilian, argues Thompson:

“Here’s the thing, everybody is like ‘get on him, get on him’ when they see Maia go down, but that is exactly what he is waiting on. He is waiting for you to go in for the kill. If you watched Tyron Woodley knock him down in the early rounds, it looked like he thought about jumping on him but then backed off and was like ‘Nah man I’m not going down there with you, stand up’. Which was the smart move. Maia wants you to go down there for ground and pound and that is when he will tie you up. So, in my mind it was a very smart fight for Tyron man. He is definitely an intelligent fighter.”