Nothing stands between Stephen Thompson and a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title.
The man they call “Wonderboy” rolled to his seventh consecutive victory, as he claimed a unanimous decision over Rory MacDonald in the UFC Fight Night “MacDonald vs. Thompson” headliner on Saturday at the TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario. Thompson (13-1, 8-1 UFC) swept the scorecards in hostile territory, earning 50-45, 50-45 and 48-47 marks from the judges.
MacDonald (18-4, 8-4 UFC) looked gunshy and out of sorts, with the exception of a few moments of aggression. Thompson controlled the distance and chipped away with counterpunches and kicks to the legs, body and head. The South Carolina-based karateka did real damage in the fifth round, where a glancing wheel kick drew blood from MacDonald’s nose -- the same nose that had been shattered in his rematch with Robbie Lawler a little less than a year ago. The Canadian at one point pulled guard in a desperate attempt to change the complexion of the fight, but Thompson fed him elbows and short punches from side control before escaping to his feet.
The 26-year-old MacDonald enters free agency having suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time in his career. Thompson, meanwhile, turns his attention to the forthcoming showdown between welterweight champion Lawler and Tyron Woodley at UFC 201.
‘Cowboy’ Cerrone Routs Cote
In the welterweight co-main event, Donald Cerrone wrecked Patrick Cote with third-round punches in one of the most complete performances of his career. Cote (23-10, 10-10 UFC) succumbed to blows 2:35 into round three, as he was stopped by strikes for the first time in 33 professional bouts.
Cerrone (30-7, 17-4 UFC) kept “The Predator” guessing, surprising him with a pair of fast-twitch takedowns in the opening round. He worked his way to the back and threatened with a rear-naked choke before the first five minutes were up. Cote’s situation did not improve in round two, where “Cowboy” sent one kick after another into his lead leg and scored the first of his three knockdowns, a slashing left hook doing the honors.
With two rounds in the bank, Cerrone hit the gas in the third. Cote hit the mat twice. A left hook followed by two clubbing rights put him down for good, as Cerrone forced him to turtle and pounded away with right hands until referee Yves Lavigne had seen enough.
Cerrone’s 17 wins inside the Octagon tie him with Demian Maia for fourth on the UFC’s all-time list. He trails only Georges St. Pierre (19), Michael Bisping (19) and Matt Hughes (18).
Bosse Outlasts O’Connell in Violent Battle
Steve Bosse was the better man in a gnarly war of attrition, as he outlasted Sean O'Connell to a unanimous decision in an unforgettable three-round confrontation at 205 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Bosse (12-2, 2-1 UFC): 29-28, 29-28 and 29-27. The two men received a standing ovation for their work after 15 minutes of pure violence.
Bosse withstood a near-knockout in the first round, where the third of three consecutive left hooks from O’Connell (17-8, 2-4 UFC) sent him crashing to the canvas. The former hockey enforcer cleared his head while on the mat, returned to his feet and got back to business. The Bosse right hand was the story in rounds two and three, as he cracked and staggered O’Connell repeatedly. He also mixed in a takedown in the second round and connected with multiple spinning backfists.
The 34-year-old Bosse has rattled off 10 wins across his last 11 outings.
Aubin-Mercier Choke Submits Gouti
“The Ultimate Fighter Nations” finalist Olivier Aubin-Mercier submitted Thibault Gouti with a third-round rear-naked choke in a lightweight showcase. Gouti (11-2, 0-2 UFC) tapped out 2:28 into round three, as he lost for the second time in as many appearances.
Persistence paid for Aubin Mercier (8-2, 4-2 UFC). The 27-year-old Tristar Gym rep executed takedowns in all three rounds, waded through heavy fire on the feet and slowly wore down Gouti. Aubin-Mercier dragged the Frenchman to the ground at the start of the third round, made an efficient move to the back and locked down a body triangle. Gouti fought to free himself but ultimately succumbed to his counterpart’s advances.
Aubin-Mercier now has seven submission victories to his credit, six of them via rear-naked choke.
Calderwood Body Kick Finishes Letourneau
Tristar Gym export Joanne Calderwood disposed of Valerie Letourneau with a front kick to the body and follow-up punches in the third round of the first women’s flyweight bout in UFC history. Letourneau (8-5, 3-2 UFC) wilted 2:51 into round three.
Calderwood (11-1, 3-1 UFC) was ruthless. The 29-year-old floored Letourneau with a spinning backfist in the first round, executed a pair of takedowns in the second and finished the job in the third. There, Calderwood doubled over the American Top Team-trained Canadian with a front kick to the body and later slammed a foot into her face. Letourneau survived the blows, but after a second front kick to the midsection, she winced in pain, turned away and retreated. Calderwood pursued her to the fence, fired off a knee to the backside and closed it out with another spinning backfist to the face.
“JoJo” has won five of her past six bouts.