'Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson' Breakdown - UFC Fight Night 89

UFC Fight Night 89 is taking place this Sunday night from the beautiful Ottawa, Canada. This is the first time they visit the nation's capital, and it quickly became the fastest selling event in TD Place Arena's history. People are thrilled, the city is ready, and you can feel the excitement in the streets. Rightfully so. The evening's main event is arguably my most anticipated fight of the year. Chances are we'll get a technical striking clinic when former UFC Welterweight title challenger Rory MacDonald faces off against five-time kickboxing world champion Stephen Thompson.

Stephen, Wonderboy, Thompson is relatively new to the UFC. Following a remarkable 57-0 career as a kickboxer, he transitioned to MMA and made his debut with the company in 2012. Now, this guy is the best of the best when it comes to striking. He possesses one of the most unique stances in the game. A Southpaw worker, Thompson keeps his stance very wide and stands virtually sideways. This, alongside his amazing footwork, allows him to move quickly and counter his opponent's attacks, but it also perfectly sets up another key component of his style: kicks. A karate mastermind, Wonderboy utilizes kicks in the way other fights use the jab. He will constantly hit your head, body and legs. They're all vicious, and they help him to keep his range. Eventually, his opponents get aggressive and Thompson cracks them with some hard shots as they push forward.

Another thing I admire about Stephen how much he improves every time he steps into the octagon. After Matt Brown was able to close the distance and keep him on the floor (delivering his only defeat thus far), Thompson returned with an improved takedown defense and ground game. Earlier this year, he was able to obliterate Johnny Hendricks, who is a wrestling grinder. If he manages to defeat MacDonald, he's absolutely getting the next title shot. The question is: can he?

Rory, The Red King, MacDonald is one of the smartest competitors in the UFC. Training out of Tristar in Montreal, he's what I call an MMA general. Wherever the fight goes, he has the tools to come out on top. Holding victories over guys like Nate Diaz, Demian Maia, and Tyron Woodley, he's a veteran to the sport at only 26 years of age. When it comes to the feet, he likes to trade in the pocket. He sets up his jab before unloading with vicious combinations. After losing to Robbie Lawler in one of the most brutal, thrilling title battles I've ever seen, he's looking to prove that he's still a top contender.

Who do I think holds the advantage? Both guys are elite warriors, but I'm going with Rory. Stylistically, this is the worst match-up for Thompson. These guys have previously sparred together. And while Rory has competed against some of the most dangerous guys in the division, I simply don't believe Stephen has fought a good wrestler who closely matches his height and reach. Also, MacDonald is cold-blooded and truly versatile. If he manages to secure a ground position, that'll be it for Wonderboy. The Red King will want to close the distance (peppering Stephen's legs), put Thompson against the cage, and unload (or take it to the ground if needed). On the other side, Stephen will want to stay quick, keeping the distance with his kicks and looking to land a vicious blow. Like always, this is MMA...anything could happen. Rory's war with Lawler is the type of moment that can drastically change a fighter's career. Let's just hope it didn't. Whoever wins, I just want to see an impressive showing from both men.

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