LAS VEGAS -- Tyron Woodley acknowledges that CM Punk is getting special treatment over other, less popular MMA fighters. Not only does he not mind, Woodley believes that he has done the same exact thing in Hollywood.
The UFC welterweight has a role in the upcoming N.W.A. biopic 'Straight Outta Compton' and also did stunts for 'Olympus Has Fallen' with Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. Overall, Woodley has a healthy and burgeoning career in movies.
"I've had directors call me and say they're done casting for movies, but because they want me in the movie, the writer is gonna rewrite the script and put me in the movie," Woodley said. "You think I'm gonna bitch a fit that I jumped the line? No. Being successful at mixed martial arts, being a good personality, they like the look. That allows you to open up doors and avenues. I think [CM Punk's] success in somewhere else just opened up this door."
Woodley compares CM Punk to Randy Couture. Not in terms of MMA ability or pedigree, but by the way they were able to branch out into a different area due to their popularity in their original medium. CM Punk was one of the biggest draws in WWE before retiring from pro wrestling last year. In December, the UFC announced it had signed him to much criticism.
"I think people got a misconception," Woodley said. "I think for you to be successful the way he was successful in the WWE, it takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication. The way Randy Couture was successful in the UFC was a lot of work and dedication. That dedication in that arena opened up the door for Randy to be in 'The Expendables', to be in 'The Scorpion King', to be American dance idol or whatever. He jumped the line. His hard work in a different realm allowed him to do that."
Woodley spent the last few weeks training for his UFC 183 fight against Kelvin Gastelum on Saturday night at Roufusport in Milwaukee. CM Punk has chosen that gym as the place where he'll prepare for his first UFC fight. Woodley said the former WWE star does 12 private lessons per week, along with regular MMA classes and "a ridiculous amount of cardio on his own."
"He's working his ass off," Woodley said. "He's got a lot of ground to make up. He's taking appropriate measures to make up the ground he's missed, being the age that he is and the sport being where it's at.
"He's in the gym every day an hour early, three times a day, not just training, but watching people train and understanding the sport. He never said he wanted a title shot. He never said he's gonna call everybody out and beat the world down."
The plan has been for CM Punk to fight at middleweight, but Woodley thinks he could end up at welterweight, which is his division. "The Chosen One" is not predicting a championship for Punk, whose real name is Phil Brooks, but he respects his hustle. UFC president Dana White has said that he'll need at least six months of training before a fight is booked for him.
"This is a sport where hard work sometimes can trump athleticism, skill set," Woodley said. "Just toughness. You never know how tough you are. He's performed [in front of] big crowds before, so I think when he walks out and he sees all those people I don't think it's going to be anything knew to him. I'm not saying he's ready to take on the top 10 in the welterweight division. But what I'm saying is that he's working hard and we'll see when he gets in the Octagon."
Woodley has a unique perspective on the situation, not just because he's trained with CM Punk, but also because of his up-and-coming career in Hollywood.
"Most people need to focus the energy they're putting on hating anybody -- not just me, him or anybody -- if you put that energy on yourself, I think America would be more successful in general," Woodley said. "People have got too much time to be on the internet and be like, 'Oh, you're gonna get killed.' Man, get a life."