ANAHEIM, Calif. — Since claiming the UFC welterweight title one year ago, Tyron Woodley has been tested by two of the most unique styles in the sport.
He has now passed both tests.
Woodley (18-3) defended his title for the second time, defeating Demian Maia in a near-shutout unanimous decision at UFC 214 on Saturday night at the Honda Center. All three judges scored it for Woodley: 50-45, 49-46 and 49-46.
Maia (25-7) came into the contest on a seven-fight winning streak, based almost exclusively on his grappling. Woodley shut that down Saturday, but he also refused to take risks on the feet, which made for a slow fight.
The crowd chanted “this is boring” during the final round. Earlier this year, Woodley faced a similar challenge in unorthodox striker Stephen Thompson. Woodley won the fight, but it was poorly received by viewers.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Woodley said of the boos. “I was in there with a jiu-jitsu specialist. I’m just excited to fight a freestyle fighter, someone I can use all my skills against.”
According to Fightmetric, Woodley defended 24 takedown attempts by Maia. He also landed just 45 strikes, compared with 23 for Maia.
The first right hand Woodley threw swelled Maia’s left eye. In the second round, he dropped Maia, who trains out of Sao Paulo, Brazil, with another right hand. He pursued him after that but never really came close to a finish. That proved to be his most aggressive moment of the fight.
In the final three rounds, Woodley, of St. Louis, seemed content to defend takedowns and go to the scorecards. He bloodied Maia’s nose with punches, but there was no question that he wished to be cautious.
“I had to be patient with my shots,” Woodley said. “He’s stronger than I expected. He hit me with a couple left hands, which surprised me. I’m the best in the world, man.”
UFC president Dana White said during fight week that Woodley would get St-Pierre?next with a win on Saturday. However, White said Saturday that after the way Woodley fought against Maia, he intends to change course.
“What was there to be happy with?” White said of Saturday’s fight. “It was just horrible.”
Asked if the fight impacted the potential for a Woodley-St-Pierre fight, White said, “Absolutely. I’m probably not going to do that now.
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