NEW YORK -- Madison Square Garden has its first mixed martial arts classic.
Judges scored the five-round fight 47-47, 47-47 and 48-47 in Woodley's favor.
Those scores amounted to a majority draw. However, UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer at first incorrectly declared it a split-decision win for Woodley. Woodley retained the belt either way, but the official decision was a draw, which Buffer corrected in an announcement to the crowd.
"It is what it is," Thompson said after the initial confusion. "We will do it again, back here at Madison Square Garden. Let's go."
The final result was somewhat fitting for the back-and-forth fight. It was only the third time in UFC history that a title fight ended in a tie.
UFC president Dana White says an immediate rematch makes sense. "Who the hell wouldn't want to see that fight again? I'd love to do it again," White said.
Woodley (17-3) created the possibility of a draw by earning a 10-8 score in the fourth round. He dropped Thompson twice with right hands in the round and seemed on the edge of finishing the fight. Thompson somehow managed to survive the punches and a tight guillotine later in the round.
"I wanted the finish," Woodley said. "He caught me with some punches. I wasn't able to get those combinations off."
The defending champ's greatest weapons heading in were his wrestling and right hand, both of which turned up big. He took Thompson (13-2) down in the first round and cut him over the bridge of the nose with an elbow.
Thompson, who fights out of South Carolina, found his range in the second and third rounds. He pinned Woodley's back to the fence and hit him with front kicks and left hands. A two-punch combination in the third appeared to stagger Woodley momentarily.