Woodley announced last week that the UFC approached him with an offer to defend his welterweight title against Diaz at the promotion’s year-end show. Woodley said he happily accepted the fight and even signed a contract, but that’s where the story stalled, as Woodley says Diaz refused to do the same. Several days have since passed, yet a matchup between “T-Wood” and the fighting pride of Stockton remains in limbo.
So why all of the uncertainty?
“I don’t know,” Woodley said Monday on The MMA Hour. “He (Diaz) said there wasn’t enough time. He said I was a welterweight, he’s a lightweight, even though he’s fought at welterweight before and he fought Conor (McGregr) at ‘welterweight.’ It sounds like a lot of excuses to me, but you know what, I’m not going to call out a man. Maybe there wasn’t enough money on the table. I can’t go on record because I don’t know for 100-percent sure, but I believe part of them trying to go back to him and ask him about the fight again, they would have to go with more money. Because if you call and ask him with the same money, the same date, the same opponent, and you don’t have more money, then you’re basically just asking him again and he’s already said no.
“So hopefully they offer him a crap-load of money and we get the fight done.”
For now, Woodley said he is simply preparing as if the fight against Diaz at UFC 219 is on. The 35-year-old welterweight champion said he worked out Monday and will continue to ready himself to headline on Dec. 30 until he hears otherwise.
Altogether, the news is somewhat surprising considering Woodley was expected to be sidelined for the remainder of 2017 after suffering a torn labrum in his shoulder during his UFC 214 title defense over Demian Maia. But Diaz is a different type of challenger than Woodley ever expected to be offered — a longtime lightweight with a unique, boxing-heavy style — and Woodley is willing to hold off shoulder surgery to make an exception for UFC 219.
“I consider Nate not the type of grinding grappler, the static strength opponent that would present those problems (for my shoulder) — someone who’s going to be in the clinch, who’s defending takedowns, going for a lot of shots,” Woodley said. “Throwing a lot of power at Nate, I think that’s how you lose to Nate, when you just try to one-punch shot him, because he has a strong chin, as him and his brother have shown time and time again. They’re volume punchers, they’re cardio fighters. They try to do the mental warfare within the Octagon and before the Octagon.
“So, really, you never throw overhand rights to beat them, and I think I can stop him without my overhand right punch. He’s not going to try to take me down. I don’t necessarily have to take him down. But if wanted to, I can’t see it being much of a fight for him to stop me from taking him down.”
It doesn’t hurt that Diaz also doubles as one of the most bankable stars in the fight game today.
Always a popular figure, Diaz emerged as a genuine superstar in 2016 with his pair of fights against Conor McGregor. Both showdowns against the Irishman did blockbuster numbers, ranking as two of the three highest-selling UFC pay-per-views of all-time.
So after calling for big fights since his title reign began, Woodley would be more than willing to put his injury woes aside to finally land a “money fight” against a name opponent, even if Diaz is the smaller fighter.
“It’s a risk and reward,” Woodley said. “If he would’ve beaten Conor the second time, everybody would’ve been like, ‘Oh my God, but Conor’s [a featherweight].’ If (Michael) Bisping would’ve beaten Georges St-Pierre, they’d be like, ‘Oh, well he’s really a welterweight.’ If someone’s going up to the weight, and especially if they competed at that weight before, then where’s the problem? There’s no problem when it’s (T.J.) Dillashaw talking about coming down and fighting Demetrious Johnson. [Nate]’s fought at welterweight before. It’s not like he’s a tiny guy and I’m overpowering him and I’m overwhelming him. I’m just a big welterweight in general.
“So it’s not like I’m just trying to bully poor Nate Diaz. I got offered the fight. I’m just trying to make it happen, and I’m just really curious why it’s not happening. What’s his logic for not fighting me? He got the same notice for the fight camp that I got, and actually, if I ain’t mistaken, I just saw him do some type of Ironman contest about a week ago, so he’s got to be in cardiovascular shape. It’s not like he’s going to fight a new training style that he can’t get ready for and prepare for. He’s going to fight the same Stockton style every time. I mean, he’s never changed his gameplan, never changed his style. So, what else is he going to do differently?
“It makes no sense (to not accept it),” Woodley added. “Put it like this, including myself, there’s not a bigger name at 170 than Nate Diaz right now. The only bigger name that was a bigger name because of what he’s done before his brother is [Nick Diaz], or Georges St-Pierre, none of whom have agreed to fight at 170 again. So with that said, it would be silly for me not to entertain the fight. I didn’t ask for the fight. It was offered to me. I just said yes to the fight.”
Woodley said he talked to his manager Malki Kawa on Monday morning, and Kawa indicated they should know a final answer about the Diaz fight “within 24 hours.” In the meantime, Woodley plans to continues preparing as if its full steam ahead for Dec. 30.
“Until I hear no, I’m not going to stop training,” Woodley said. “So when they say 24 (hours), I assume 48, maybe a little longer — 48 or 72 hours — because sometimes the Diaz brothers aren’t known to be the greatest negotiators, with returning phone calls and coming to terms on deals. So 24 hours to them could be three days, but this is my job. What, am I going to complain about training? I love training, especially when it’s an opponent that I respect, someone that brings some type of threat to me, gives me that anxiety and makes me pumped up to train.
“I’ve been looking for that name, man. This would be the first opponent I get to fight that I get that high-profile fight that actually means something. The Carlos Condit was a high-profile fight, but [he wasn’t] into having huge star-power. Neither was Robbie Lawler. Neither were some of the other guys I fought and beat. But this is a guy who is directly connected to his brother Nick, directly connected to Conor McGregor, so it could really set me up to fight one of those guys afterward.”