Tyron Woodley (18-3) defeated Demian Maia (25-7) to retain the welterweight championship Saturday night at UFC 214.
Woodley defended 23 takedowns successfully and the champion won in a fight that had the audience in attendance booing in unison.
The calm and collected champion awaited the spastic and energetic Maia through the first half of the opening round, who shot over and again to take down Woodley. On one of the first shoot attempts, Woodley caught Maia with an uppercut, swelling his left eye to nearly completely shut before the round had even ended.
Maia settled in to the second round, staying back and waiting to counter Woodley’s aggressive attacks. Woodley slipped a punch and connected on a vicious right hand that laid out Maia. Instead of jumping on the challenger, he waited on him to stand up, looking for another crushing blow.
With three minutes remaining in the second round, Woodley had stuffed an astounding 10 takedown attempts.
The third was much of the same, with Woodley setting up with a jab and looking for his opening. Maia’s left eye was swollen nearly shut and his face looked like Rocky Balboa.
To open the championship rounds, boos rained down from the crowd as both fighters waited to counter the other.
Maia progressed with a single-leg takedown, but Woodley powered out before the challenger could get him on the mat. The fourth round ended without many fireworks, and the cat-and-mouse game continued as Maia chased takedowns in the fifth round and Woodley escaped them.
After his first title defense ended in a draw, Woodley beat Stephen Thompson by decision back in March.
Maia won his last seven fights coming into Saturday night’s bout. He hadn’t lost since 2014 at the hands of Rory MacDonald.