Tyron Woodley Believes He's No. 1 Contender and on Nick Diaz's Mind

Here's what we know is true about Tyron Woodley: he's 28 years old; he made his MMA debut two years ago; he's 8-0; and he just signed a new four-fight deal with Strikeforce.

Here's what Woodley would like you to know: he should be fighting for the Strikeforce welterweight title as soon as possible.

"I think I'm the No. 1 contender at this point," the American Top Team member said on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour. "I think, realistically, from the communication I got from Strikeforce, me and Tarec [Saffiedine] wasn't just an irrelevant fight. It meant something. It meant that we were fighting for either the No. 1 contendership spot or to bang heads with [Paul] Daley, and I'm more than willing to go against Daley to solidify that I'm the No. 1 contender and I deserve a title shot.

"But quite frankly, I believe he don't want to fight a wrestler. He wants to fight KJ Noons. He wants somebody to stand in front of him and bang with him. He don't want somebody that can strike, somebody that can put him on his back, somebody that can dominate him."

Woodley defeated Saffiedine earlier this month via unanimous decision. The bout wasn't billed as No. 1 contender bout, but it was clear that the winner would be taking a very big step towards fighting for the belt in the near future.

And if you're a young welterweight looking to make a name for yourself, Strikeforce isn't a bad place to be. Witness the fact that Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, who has only fought once as a welterweight in his 31-fight career, is fighting for the title on Saturday night against champion Nick Diaz.


Strikeforce's welterweight division might be the organization's thinnest right now -- excluding the two women's divisions -- so that means young fighters like Woodley can realistically shoot for a title shot this year.

However, Diaz doesn't seem very interested in talking about Daley or Woodley these days. No, he often likes to discuss fighting the likes of Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva, which has no chance of happening in the immediate future since both men fight in the UFC.

That doesn't mean Woodley believes Diaz isn't already thinking about him.

"I know, for one, I'm in the back of [Diaz's] head," Woodley said. "If he's a true mixed martial artist, as well as I am looking over my shoulder at Bobby Voelker, Roger Bowling and Tarec Seffiedine, he's looking over his shoulder at Paul Daley and Tyron Woodley.

"If you realize it, who's the guys he's lost to? Who's the guys that dominate him? He's lost to wrestlers. Look at his record. He hasn't lost to a lot of people who want to stand up and bang with him, lot of people who are jiu-jitsu artists. Neither has Daley. You know, Daley mentioned [fighting Woodley] a few times at the beginning, but when people ask him, he's says, 'I think Tyron Woodley would be a good title defense.' But I know these guys are watching. It really don't matter to me. If they think I'm a not worthy opponent, and that's something, if we get the bout, that Diaz is going to say -- I'm already prepared for it -- 'I want important fights; who is this kid?' He's going to say all that stuff, and I'm ready for it because he's mentally beat every opponent he's fought the last 10 fights. He's beaten them before they got into the cage.

"He has a great skillset, world-class conditioning and he's been able to impose his will on everybody that he's fought. So it doesn't bother me that he hasn't mentioned my name, but if he acts like he doesn't have me in the back of his mind, he's fooling himself."

Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker recently said that Daley will fight the winner of Diaz vs. Santos, if "Semtex" doesn't lose his upcoming BAMMA fight against Yuya Shirai.

That announcement might have put a wrench in Woodley's plans, but he isn't too worried about it. He's confident his time will come. Sooner rather than later.

"This year, I should be wearing the Strikeforce belt around my waist, whether it's straight to Diaz, whether it's Daley to Diaz. I don't want any irrelevant fights. I don't want to take anything that is not making sense for me to get to the title. So it needs to be somebody that people know, for the audience to say, 'You know, he beat up this guy, he got a good name,' and there's not a ton of guys left."

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