Woodley vs. Thompson II, Nurmagomedov vs. Ferguson Set

2017 is off to a great start for UFC fans as legend known as “The Prodigy” BJ Penn will come out of a two-year retirement on January 15 looking to begin a third world title run and the woman who first KO’ed Ronda Rousey in Holly Holm will fight to become the first UFC women’s featherweight (145 pounds) champion on February 11 at UFC 208. Perhaps even more importantly, the names in the headline will meet after much clamoring from fans.

With new UFC lightweight champion “The Notorious” Conor McGregor out for the next few months due to the impending birth of a child, Tony Ferguson (22-3, 9-0 since 2012) will get his first chance at UFC gold by taking on Russia’s 24-0 phenom, Khabib Nurmagomedov (8-0 in the UFC since his 2012 debut.) While Nurmagomedov has demonstrated the conditioning/cardio of a champion, Ferguson’s fight have only gone to the judges on three occasions during that same time. Ferguson racked up five of those wins by submission, three with his popular modus operandi—the Brabo choke.

Meanwhile, Nurmagomedov has been getting back into his groove after being out with a combination of a rib injury in around October of 2015 and a knee injury before that that required surgery. He entered into the title picture fully healthy and not just based on his previous numbers—he has since added a technical knockout victory and submission win via kimura to that record—proving that he is still deadly.

It all came down to money as Ferguson wanted the exact pay as his opponent, but was under a different, fairly recent contract. Nurmagomedov even went as far to offer Ferguson $200,000 out of his own savings to get things moving. He still has his money, but now he, Ferguson, and the fans get their wish. Have a look at Nurmagomedov’s Madison Square Garden performance below.

Missouri’s own Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley and Stephen “Wonder Boy” Thompson were also on that MSG card as one of three title fight that night. Thompson, a sport karate champion, took the Mizzou wrestling product and powerful striker to the limit after months of verbal sparring. The fight was a barn burner in the eyes of many, but it went the way of a majority draw according to the judges. While this meant that Woodley would hold on to his title, the two will now settle their unfinished business in March.

“Two rounds were completely lopsided, and three rounds outside of that were very close,” Woodley said recently on his podcast. “He never dominated a single round of that fight. So now if you can tell me I did not win either Round 2, Round 3 or Round 5, then I would agree he deserves a rematch. But I do believe I won Round 3. I do believe Round 1 or 4 would be a 10-8. Then on a third category, some people would have stopped that fight. There are three ways I could have won that fight.”

Thompson appears to be a great adversary to the wrestler. Thompson’s only loss came in 2012 against Matt Brown, who failed to put Thompson away even in triumph. “Wonder Boy” has amassed four KO/TKO stoppages before facing Woodley. He still feels that Woodley’s 170-pound division title is within reach.

“I know what it feels like to be out there with him, and going back and watching that last fight, I didn’t throw everything I know I can throw,” Thompson said on MMAJunkie Radio. “I was a little hesitant, didn’t do a lot of switching sides, didn’t throw the kicks that I normally throw. Tyron Woodley hasn’t seen the best Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson…I know I can hit him, and I can hit him with some power. I’ve got his number, man. Next time we step out there, I can just go out there and do my thing.”

Decide their first meeting for yourself while seeing what remains for 209.