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Tyron Woodley says he ‘didn't have the financial incentive' to heavily promote UFC 201

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

If it felt like Tyron Woodley wasn't going out of his way to promote UFC 201, that's because he wasn't.

Woodley dethroned Robbie Lawler to became the new UFC welterweight champion at UFC 201, stopping Lawler with a memorable first-round knockout. However the lead-up to fight night was quieter than most pay-per-views, with Woodley even electing to answer nearly every question at UFC 201 media day with some variation of "I'm the best welterweight in the world," apart from an interview he conducted with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani.

And according to Woodley, there was a reason for that.

"I felt like, in general, the fight could've been promoted a little bit better," Woodley said Monday on The MMA Hour. "We kind of got smashed in between UFC 200 and UFC 202. There wasn't a ton of publicity and a ton of marketing done for the actual fight, and with that said, I wasn't the champion at the time, so I didn't really feel compelled and I didn't have the financial incentive to really push the fight and go above and beyond.

"So I put all of my energy into my myself. They didn't set me up to get to the Fast & Furious set. They didn't set me up to meet with Dwight Howard and all of these guys. Those are relationships that I have built my own self, and I didn't feel obligated, so why am I going to tell you three days before the fight ‘I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this, I'm going to knock his head off?' You're going to see in three days, so you guys can be patient, the cage will lock, we'll get into a fight and you'll see. But I told you guys, I'm going to leave everybody's mouth on the ground and everybody is going to be in awe and they're going to be shocked. And that's what happened."

While the marketing for UFC 202 may have been lacking in Woodley's eyes, the event's outcome certainly lived up to expectations.

At the age of 34, Woodley stunned Lawler with a super-missile of a right hand to earn the fastest title win in UFC welterweight history. In doing so, Woodley became the first man since Nick Diaz in 2004 to finish Lawler with strikes, accomplishing a feat that eluded heavy hitters like Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald, and Carlos Condit over the course of Lawler's championship reign.

"I won't give out everything because Robbie is not going to sit there and sulk. He's probably going to be a little discouraged and a little mad, and then he's going to get back on the horse and who knows, I might walk into him again, so I can't give out too many details. But we were really strategic on the placement of the punch," Woodley said.

"A friend of mine ... let me know that Robbie has a flat face, so his ability to take shots and punches straight on is very strong, especially if you're playing that teeter-totting, patty-cake war with him. But if you catch him on the side and you hit him clean, you hit him flush -- I've always said that guys don't take me seriously until I get in there with them.

"The punches you do not see that come with quite a bit of speed are the ones that put you down. I was the first person who really, really sent him down like that. I was the first person who really, really sent Koscheck down like that, Jake Hieron down like that, Andre Galvao down like that. I was the first for many of those guys, because they really miscalculate how fast I can get to them and how much distance I can cover in such short time. Watching film and being on the other end of the punch is a different thing."

With the win, Woodley nabbed the distinction of being the first fighter to win a title under the new UFC ownership group led by WME-IMG, and new UFC executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell were cageside to watch Woodley's feat live.

"I did speak to the new owners, the reps for the UFC," Woodley said. "I thought it was important. They kind of rushed me to the guys, wanted me to see them, because I had set up for all of the guys from Fast 8 to come (to UFC 201), and the guys from WME were like, ‘well, some of these guys we actually represent, so let us take it into our hands. We want to make sure they get the actual experience they should get,' as far as like celebrity VIP treatment.

"I think they know that I've done some films, stuff like that. Hopefully it's something good for me. Hopefully something branches from this and makes my job getting movies and parts like that a little bit easier. But I'll tell you right now, I've already committed to three movies in the last three days, and I have two others that I might not be able to do, so there's five potential films that I could be working on."

Woodley now captains the ship of one of the UFC's most talent-rich divisions, and he hasn't been shy about plotting out his next move, calling out both Nick Diaz and Georges St-Pierre after the fight rather than the division's No. 1 contender Stephen Thompson.

Such bullishness has been met by pushback from many within the MMA community, however this is Tyron Woodley's world now, and the rest of the UFC's welterweights are just going to have to learn how to deal with it.

"I hadn't seen my kids (since the fight). I just saw them this morning for the first time, and they were asleep, and I laid that heavy belt on their backs," Woodley said. "They start rolling around and moving around, and they woke up and they saw, and then just the look on their face. And I said hey, we've been talking about this for a long time, right guys? I said if you every want to do something, if you ever want to be somebody or if you want to achieve a goal, if you put your hard work in, you can do that.

"What better way to show your kids, who've seen you injured, who've seen you lose, who've seen you face adversity, who've seen politics, my oldest son has seen people say negative things about me on social media, and then they see you never give up. They see you never quit. They see you work your ass off, and finally they watch their dad get a UFC gold belt wrapped around that waist.

"I could walk away from the sport and those (moments) would be enough to make it worth it."