TWO MONTHS SINCE they contested a memorable bout at UFC 205, Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) and Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (13-1-1) have finally agreed to a rematch for the UFC welterweight title.
Woodley, the reigning champion in the 170lbs division, retained his title at Madison Square Garden on 12 November but he had to be content with a majority draw against his fellow American, who extended his undefeated run to eight bouts.
In the post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White was adamant that a rematch would take place but arranging the second fight has been slightly more complicated than the organisation may have anticipated.
While Thompson has made no secret of his desire to get a second shot at the belt, Woodley has expressed his interest in other opponents — including middleweight champion Michael Bisping, lightweight title-holder Conor McGregor and leading welterweight contender Demian Maia.
Nevertheless, the champion — who dethroned Robbie Lawler courtesy of a first-round KO last July — has signed up for another tussle with Thompson, despite his insistence that the challenger didn’t deserve a draw in New York.
The rematch will headline UFC 209, which will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, 4 March. A heavyweight rematch between Alistair Overeem and Mark Hunt has also been slated for the same card.
Explaining his decision to accept another fight against Wonderboy, Woodley told BJPenn.com: “Demian Maia, Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping, Georges St-Pierre; those are all fights I will have in my career. While I am the champion it is important for me to have those fights because defeating all of those guys makes me undeniably the greatest welterweight who has ever fought in the octagon.
“Obviously that is important to me. But I’m just trying to pick which fight is the best fight at the right time. I wasn’t 100% sold that a rematch with Wonderboy was the best thing for me right now. But then I thought let’s do this rematch so that everybody can shut up and we can close this book and move on to another chapter.”