Woodley retained his UFC welterweight title against Stephen Thompson via majority decision at UFC 209 last weekend in a bout that was plagued with large periods of inactivity. “The Chosen One” acknowledges that it was not the most exciting fight, but is calling for those who have labeled him as boring to check his résumé.
“People can say, ‘Oh, he’s a boring fighter,’” Woodley told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. “How many guys have I knocked out? Think about the Carlos Condit fight, the Dong Hyun Kim fight, the Robbie Lawler fight, the Jay Hieron fight, the Josh Koscheck fight. Even the last fight with Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Everything that people said about me, I’ve proven wrong. But nobody has that long-term memory. Everybody is like Dory from ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Woodley (17-3-1), who has not lost since 2014, does have a point, of course. He has 11 finishes in 17 career victories. His fight with Thompson at UFC 205 back in November, a majority draw, was Fight of the Night. Woodley knocked out Lawler in the first round at UFC 201 last August to win the welterweight title. He won Performance of the Night against Kim in 2014 and Knockout of the Night against Koscheck in 2013.
With that said, Woodley didn’t think this fight with Thompson was a barn burner. But he also found it to be successful, as he was able to suppress Thompson’s dynamic, karate-based striking and pull off the victory. Woodley also nearly finished Thompson in the fifth round, though he knows he had more chances that he did not take.
“The look on my face after the fight wasn’t because I thought I lost,” Woodley said. “I expected myself to do better. It really wasn’t a terrible fight. I wouldn’t give myself a C, I’d give myself an A. But the fight itself, I could have forced more flurries. I could have forced more interactions.
“I was a little bit frustrated with myself, because I saw some opportunities and I didn’t seize the moment.”
Woodley, 34, believes it takes two to tango and doesn’t feel like Thompson was pushing the action, either. Both men had long bouts of not throwing or landing any strikes, especially in the first two rounds.
“How is the entire world, ‘Oh, Tyron was circling?’” Woodley said. “OK, well maybe I don’t want to go in there and just get countered when it’s hard to get in on a long opponent who is just waiting on you to come and attack because he doesn’t want to come in and close the gap.”
It wasn’t the kind of exciting finish that the UFC wants out of its fighters, but Woodley believes he should be pushed more as a star. The Ferguson, Mo., native thinks the UFC can do a better job to promote him, which he has been saying often for the last few months.
“You gotta know me to promote me,” Woodleys aid. “You can’t just promote a fighter. I believe the UFC should promote stories, they should promote lifestyles, they should promote what it took for that person to be in the Octagon. Because it took something for all of us to be here. And that’s how you get the fans behind you, that’s how you get them to stay behind you. Not just a fight.
“I feel like I’m the guy that they can make a star, that’s already doing everything for them. There’s not much more you need to do.”
The future for Woodley is unclear at this moment. He’s about to film a movie with the welterweight contender picture very much in flux. Demian Maia faces Jorge Masvidal at UFC 211 on May 13 in what could be a title eliminator. Woodley, for his part, would prefer a bigger money fight, like one against Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre or Michael Bisping.
More than anything, he’s just happy to be done with Thompson, who he called “annoying” to prepare for, because he had to bring in karate fighters to spar with the last two training camps.
Even though it wasn’t a heard-turning performance at UFC 209, the strategy worked and Woodley remains the UFC champ.
“Every fight can’t be this frickin’ Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez fight,” Woodley said. “Or Doo Ho Choi vs. Cub Swanson. Every fight is not gonna be that way. At the end of the day, the goal is to be the world champion and keep the belt as long as you can and have this reign and career.”