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Tyron Woodley: UFC ‘missed opportunity’ with Nick Diaz and UFC 209

Tyron Woodley
Tyron Woodley
Esther Lin/

LOS ANGELES -- The UFC 209 welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson is an intriguing rematch of one of 2016’s best fights.

But Woodley, who retained his championship via majority draw at UFC 205, has made it clear this wasn’t his first choice for his next fight.

Talks were held about making Woodley vs. Nick Diaz the main event on March 4 in Las Vegas, which would have given extra meaning to the “209” in UFC 209, as it’s the area code of Diaz’s infamous hometown of Stockton, Calif.

And while Woodley doesn’t know the details on why the bout wasn’t made, he also believes the UFC missed the boat in not making the match.

“I think it’s a missed opportunity for the UFC to push someone that is a legend for the sport,” Woodley said. “An all-time top five welterweight, someone I saw a lot in Strikeforce and always, it was more of a respect thing that, I think someone who has done that much for the sport, it was getting to the point where the platform was higher than the paycheck, he probably should have been able to fight.”

Meanwhile, Woodley says he wasn’t entirely opposed to the rematch with “Wonderboy,” and knew they’d square off again somewhere down the road. It’s just, as Woodley saw it, there were a number of solid options on the table, including red-hot contender Demian Maia and other potential challenges.

“There are about five or six fights in my career that, I really think are the fights to show I’m the best welterweight ever,” Woodley said. “Obviously a rematch with [Thompson] at some point is one of those fights. Also Demian Maia is one, he’s caught in a holster and he is deserving. You think about the Diaz brothers, you think about Conor, you think about Georges St-Pierre, all of them are big fights.”

At the end of the day, Woodley knew he’d fight Thompson again. It just turned out to be sooner rather than later.

“It’s my goal to be the best welterweight ever,” Woodley said. “I always knew I’d have to fight him again, but I didn’t feel obligated to have to fight him next. Even if I had held out, or took another fight, or he fought somebody else, I knew I’d have to fight him again, he’s a high-level guy and he got here for a reason so he’d probably beat the other person to get here. So I knew i would fight him again but I didn’t feel I had to fight him next.”

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