UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley said over and again that he wanted his first title defense to be against former champion Georges St-Pierre or Nick Diaz. Diaz hasn’t fought in eighteen months, and GSP hasn’t fought since 2013. However, they are both big money fights. And professional fighters, the smart ones, fight to make the most money.
However, in mid August, UFC president Dana White voiced other plans.
“Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson is going to fight for the 170-pound title,” said White. “And then we’ll see what happens with Nick and Nate.”
White made good on his promise. Tyron Woodley will defend his title against Stephen Thompson at UFC 205 on November 12, 2016 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.
Woodley won the title beating Robbie Lawler in the first, at UFC 201 July 30, 2016, pushing his win streak to three. The karate-based Thompson is on a massive seven-fight win streak, most recently defeating Rory MacDonald in June.
The title fight is likely to be the main event on what promises to be a massive show, to celebrate the return of the UFC to New York for the first time since 1995.
The UFC spent nine years and an estimated $2,000,000 pushing for the regulation of MMA in New York. The Empire State was for years dead last – the only state or province in North America where MMA was prohibited. But amateur MMA contests were taking place, often without blood tests. Fighters with Hepatitis and even HIV were competing in New York, but without regulation, nothing was stopping them. Regulation is now in place, and the UFC plans a triumphant return.
The card to date, although unofficial, is believed to now include:
•Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson
•Chris Weidman vs. Yoel Romero
•Donald Cerrone vs. Kelvin Gastelum
•Tim Kennedy vs. Rashad Evans
•Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
•Thiago Alves vs. Al Iaquinta
•Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian
•Gian Villante vs. Marcos Rogério de Lima
The top five fights are some tremendous it is hard to imagine adding another big fight that would push one of them to the undercard. That said, the top of the FOX Sports 1 prelim card has to be one so great fans are inspired to pay $60 to watch five more fights. Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens is that great a fight.