The Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight crown is staying put.
Less than four months after they fought to a draw in their first encounter, two-time NCAA All-American Tyron Woodley retained his title with a majority decision over Stephen Thompson in the UFC 209 headliner on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Two of the three cageside judges struck 48-47 scorecards for Woodley, while a third ruled it a 47-47 draw. The five-round rematch was marked by extended periods of inactivity, with champion and contender circling one another to a chorus of boos from those in attendance.
Woodley (17-3-1, 7-2-1 UFC) was responsible for the two most significant bursts of offense in the fight. He executed a takedown in the second round, trapped Thompson’s arm behind his back and went to work with his ground-and-pound; and late in Round 5, Woodley sent an off-balance “Wonderboy” careening into the cage with a straight right and then met him with an overhand right that had him back on the canvas with referee John McCarthy hovering above. Thompson (13-2-1, 8-2-1 UFC) controlled the spaces in between -- he staggered Woodley with a left hook in the third round and connected with a wheel kick in the fourth -- with tactical strikes but failed to make enough of an impact to necessitate a changing of the guard at 170 pounds (online betting).
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Surging Teymur Upsets Vannata
Rising Allstars Training Center star David Teymur made his most significant move to date, as he captured a unanimous decision over Lando Vannata in the three-round lightweight co-main event. Teymur (6-1, 3-0 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 marks from the judges.
Neither man seemed willing to give ground. Vannata (9-2, 1-2 UFC) cracked the Swede with a cartwheel kick and had him reeling with right hands in the first round, only to see momentum shift before the first five minutes were up. Teymur employed a kick-heavy approach in the second and third rounds, incorporated crisp punching combinations and mixed in the occasional takedown to keep the Jackson-Wink MMA rep off-balance.
Teymur has rattled off six consecutive victories.
Kelly Stymies Returning Evans
Pressure and persistence carried four-time Olympian Daniel Kelly to a split decision over Rashad Evans in a three-round middleweight feature. All three cageside judges scored it 29-28: Derek Cleary and Dave Hagen for an elated Kelly, Chris Lee for the dejected Evans.
Kelly (13-1, 6-1 UFC) moved forward with conviction, feeding the former light heavyweight champion straight lefts, occasional left uppercuts and sneaky foot sweeps. Evans (19-6-1, 14-6-1 UFC) too often fought in single strikes and allowed the Australian judoka to turn it into grueling war of wills. Still, he made a strong case to the judges down the stretch, as he tuned up Kelly with two-, three- and four-punch combinations for much of the third round. It was not enough to salvage his debut at 185 pounds.
Evans, 37, now finds himself on a three-fight losing streak.
Calvillo Choke Submits Cooper
Team Alpha Male prospect Cynthia Calvillo submitted “The Ultimate Fighter 23” finalist Amanda Bobby Cooper with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their women’s strawweight showcase. Cooper (2-3, 1-2 UFC) conceded defeat 3:19 into Round 1.
Calvillo (4-0, 1-0 UFC) rolled through a double-leg takedown from Cooper, bit down on an anaconda choke and made a smooth transition to the back. From there, she snaked her arms in place for the rear-naked choke, adjusted her grip after a brief hand-fighting battle and forced the tap.
Overeem Knee KOs Hunt
Former Dream and Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem knocked out Mark Hunt with a savage third-round knee strike in their heavyweight rematch. Hunt (12-11-1, 7-5-1 UFC) hit the deck facedown and unconscious 1:44 into Round 3.
Overeem (42-15, 7-4 UFC) kept the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix winner at bay with kicks to the legs and body but did his best work in close quarters. He tenderized Hunt’s midsection with knees and mixed in standing elbows upstairs. “The Super Samoan” had his moments -- he had Overeem ducking for cover along the fence in the first round and buckled his knees with a pair of standing elbows in the second -- but failed to finish the job. Overeem backed him to the cage in Round 3 and fired a pair of knees to the head that turned out the lights.
The resurgent Overeem has won five of his past six bouts, a knockout loss to reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic the only defeat.