When Tyron Woodley knocked out Robbie Lawler to win the UFC welterweight championship at UFC 201, most people assumed that Woodley's first defense would be against No. 1 contender Stephen Thompson, who was just coming off an impressive domination of former title challenger Rory MacDonald. However, Woodley threw Thompson and the rest of the MMA world a curveball when in his post-fight statements he said that he wanted to fight either Nick Diaz or Georges St-Pierre and that Thompson needed to fight Lawler first. Since then, St-Pierre has also expressed an interest in the fight (should he be able to come to terms with the UFC about his return), and Demian Maia has also staked a claim to a title shot after dominating former interim champion Carlos Condit.
All in all, the prospects for a Wonderboy title shot are looking pretty grim and perhaps because of this, Thompson has started to speak out about the current champion. In an interview with Submission Radio recently, Thompson took the proverbial gloves off, calling the champion a hypocrite and saying that Woodley is refusing to fight him because he's scared.
"I'm glad I did hold back [on the UFC 201 post-fight show]. That just shows my self-control, and I knew a lot of people like my students were watching then. But if I could have gone back, or if I could have gotten him in a room with closed doors, I would definitely let him know at that time, you're crazy. When you were a few months ago preaching how you deserve that fight, you deserve the fight, give it to you when you were ranked number FOUR and they still gave it to you. And now you're doing this to me? It sounds like you're a hypocrite, man. That's just crazy talk. It sounds like to me you're scared. You're scared to fight me. Let's do this, let's go [laughs]. I don't know what else to say without throwing in a few cuss words."
Thompson is of course talking about the moment when he realized Woodley didn't want to fight him. After knocking out Lawler, Woodley went on the UFC post-fight show on Fox Sports which Thompson was co-hosting that evening. When Thompson pitched a potential title fight between the two of them later this year, that is when Woodley informed Thompson that he felt Thompson should fight Robbie Lawler next. That was the incident which spurred Woodley being labeled "The Choosey One" and brought out the heretofore unseen trash talking side of Thompson.
When asked Thompson to clarify his feelings on if Woodley was actually scared to fight him, Thompson had this to say:
"Well as hard as he's fighting it, it does seem that way. If it was just the money - and it doesn't seem like the UFC's going to give it to him - okay, I'll fight the number one contender. But now it's going crazy. Now he's throwing racism out there and now he's just kind of going over and beyond of the whole situation, to be honest with you. And yeah man, it's starting to seem that way. I mean, you're the champion, you should be taking all newcomers - especially when you just get that belt. You have the belt of for thirty seconds and you're already shutting me down, asking for a money fight? It doesn't work that way pal...
"What champion doesn't accept the number one contender? You know what I mean? That's just how it goes. You defend that title a few times before you ever starting asking for a money fight. Come on, what's going on? I mean, you hear Conor McGregor doing that, but Tyron's nowhere near the level of Conor McGregor when it comes to marketing and popularity. He's just not there. I think everybody else, the fans see that as well. And it upset not just me, but a lot of other fans and people that follow the UFC too."
Though no official announcement has been made for Woodley's first title defense, Thompson is still hoping he will get the call. UFC President Dana White has said he believes Thompson is next and Thompson is preparing under the assumption that that will be the case. However, with the increasingly impressive case of his welterweight contemporary Demian Maia building, Thompson did outline why he believes he deserves the next title shot over the BJJ ace.
"I do believe that after me and Tyron fight, that [Maia] should be getting the title fight. I think he's proven himself in the welterweight division, but if you look, I've got the longer winning streak. I'm seven (wins), he's six. I beat Rory MacDonald - the guy who's the last guy that beat him. But man, I mean, the guys that he's fought - Carlos Condit is a monster. I mean, Neil Magny, Gunnar Nelson- they're all really good fighters, but I think I have beaten the better fighters, the more prestigious fighters in the division than he has. And obviously I have the longer winning streak (laughs). So I know he's throwing out there (that) he's an older guy and thinks he should get it before me because he's an older guy, but hey, I can't help that he started MMA at a later age. I feel like I started at a later age. I started, what - I think I was 28 when I started mixed martial arts. So yeah man, I'm definitely the one that deserves the next title shot."
Woodley has previously stated that he wants to fight on the Madison Square Garden card in November for the UFC's return to New York. However, St-Pierre won't be available to fight until December at the earliest, and currently appears to be no closer to signing with the UFC than ever. If Woodley really does want to fight on that card, it would seem that Maia or Thompson are the one's he would compete against.
And if Thompson does get his title shot and manages to become the welterweight champion, Thompson says he won't have the same goal as all the fighters asking for "money fights" because he doesn't fight for money but for the love of the game.
"No man, it's literally for the lifelong commitment to this game. I've been a martial artist since I've been three years old and I started fighting at the age of 15 and I've never stopped. I've worked my butt of to get to where I am today. For the money? Nah. If I wasn't in the UFC, I'd still be fighting somewhere. Like I said, I don't care what the UFC thinks, I'd fight for free. I just want to be the best fighter. That's my goal, the best fighter."
You can listen to the full interview below.
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A champion asking for a money fight is like saying "I'm not marketable on my own, I can't bring in money on my own, and I need to help"— Will Brooks (@illwillbrooks86) September 6, 2016
In a ruthless business I am the most ruthless pic.twitter.com/egnRpZYLQI— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) September 6, 2016
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I sincerely hope Thompson gets the next title shot. In part because I think he is probably the best welterweight in the world right now but mostly because I really don't want to see GSP come back and make a WW run. GSP should be coming back to fight Anderson Silva. Or Conor McGregor (for the sheer spectacle of it). The WW division has moved past him and he's currently one of the few guys to leave MMA in a positive manner. This is a stupid, fan wish for an old hero but BJ can't quit coming back and I don't want Georges to end up the same way.
Yesterday, I was surprised to see an overwhelming majority favor doing Diaz-McGregor 3 down the road. Today, let's see how you feel about GSP-Woodley.
Have a great day M.Rmy. See you tomorrow.
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