"Wonderboy" is here to stay.
Stephen Thompson put together a tactical, complete performance to beat perennial welterweight contender Rory MacDonald in the main event of UFC Fight Night 89 on Saturday night in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The decision was unanimous with scores of 50-45, 50-45, 48-47.
The first three rounds were very close, but "Wonderboy" actually got stronger in the fourth and fifth, bloodying MacDonald's face and probably breaking his nose much in the same way Robbie Lawler did last year.
And Lawler, the UFC welterweight champion, was the guy Thompson called out afterward while talking to Jon Anik.
"Title belt, baby!" Thompson said. "Title belt! Robbie Lawler! I want the winner of Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley in New York!"
Lawler will defend the belt against Woodley at UFC 201 on June 30 in Atlanta. "Wonderboy" has certainly staked his claim to taking on the winner. He beat former champion Johny Hendricks by first-round TKO in February and now has a 'W' over MacDonald, who fell in a close fight to Lawler at UFC 189 in July 2015.
Thompson (13-1), a decorated former karate champion, befuddled MacDonald (18-4) with his striking for the entire 25 minutes. The two used to trained together at Tristar Gym in Montreal and "Wonderboy" said MacDonald came out prepared.
"I didn't think Rory was going to be prepared for the angles and the speed," Thompson said.
But then MacDonald came out in a different stance and Thompson knew it was on.
"I realized this is going to be a chess match," Thompson said.
It was and he proved himself to be a grand champion. Just not the UFC champion. But maybe that time will come, too.
Thompson, 33, has won seven in a row and has not been defeated since Matt Brown did it in 2012. MacDonald, 26, won three in a row before falling to Lawler and now Thompson.
In the co-main event, Donald Cerrone put on one of the most sensational performances of his career in a third-round TKO of Patrick Cote. Cerrone dominated Cote in every single round, dropped him in the second and dropped him multiple times in the third en route to the finish. "Cowboy" cemented himself as a contender at welterweight after a fantastic career at lightweight.
Cerrone (30-7, 1 NC) has won two straight at 170 after falling to Rafael dos Anjos in a lightweight title fight back in December. Cote (23-10) had won three in a row coming in, including the last two via finish.
The $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus was all locked up by the end of the second round between Steve Bossé and Sean O'Connell. The two light heavyweights threw huge bombs at each other for essentially 15 straight minutes. O'Connell knocked Bossé down in the first and nearly finished him. Bossé knocked O'Connell down in the second and almost finished him. The third was another wild, rock 'em, sock'em robots type war with no clear winner.
In the end, Bossé got the nod in his home country of Canada via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-27). Neither men was truly a loser, though, one of the year's best fights thus far. Bossé (12-2), the former hockey goon, has now won two straight. O'Connell (17-8) has lost two in a row, but he's still one of the most exciting fighters in the division.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier had his hands full, but eventually finished things in the third round against Thibault Gouti via submission (rear-naked choke). Aubin-Mercier (8-2), the Canadian prospect, rebounded from a loss to Diego Ferreira in January. Gouti (11-2) has now lost two straight to begin his UFC career.
Joanne Calderwood and Valerie Letourneau made history by being the first fighters to compete in a UFC 125-pound fight and it was a barnburner. Calderwood ended up finishing Letourneau via third-round TKO when Letourneau turned around after a body kick and Calderwood pounced.
Calderwood (11-1), who said she will return to strawweight, looked the best she has in the Octagon. Letourneau (8-5), who was coming off a title loss to Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 193 in November, showed off her trademark chin the entire fight.
In the highlight of the prelims, Krzysztof Jokto knocked out surging Tamdan McCrory with a devastating left hand in just 59 seconds. Jotko (18-1) has won five of six in the UFC and is looking like a middleweight contender. McCrory (14-4) came in winning his first two fights by finish after returning to the UFC following five years away.
Also on the FOX Sports 2 prelims, Misha Cirkunov finished Ion Cutelaba via third-round submission (arm triangle), Joe Soto choked out Chris Beal in the third round of a back-and-forth battle and Jason Saggo beat Leandro Silva via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).
On Fight Pass, the featured prelim between Elias Theodorou and Sam Alvey didn't quite live up to expectations. Theodorou won a clear unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27), but didn't do much damage and Alvey was largely inactive throughout with Theodorou keeping him at bay with quicks.
Also on the Fight Pass prelims, Randa Markos beat Jocelyn Lybarger by close unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Colby Covington beat newcomer Jonathan Meunier via third-round submission and Ali Bagautinov beat Geane Herrera via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).