At UFC 235 in March, Tyron Woodley will return to the cage to defend his welterweight title, not against the man who he as been publicly playing the dozens with for the last year, Colby Covington, but against second-ranked contender Kamaru Usman. It will be Woodley’s fifth consecutive title defense, the most of any active champion, and it also may be one of his last.
On the Ariel Helwani MMA Show, the welterweight champion revealed that his plans for 2019 include title defenses against Usman and Covington, and then possibly a jump up to middleweight to chase a second title.
“Those aren’t my decisions to make,” Woodley said about the order of his title defenses. “I’m just the welterweight champion of the world so when somebody steps up and thinks they want it, I’ve got to put them down. So Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington, and whoever else, this year I’ve got to fight those guys, this is just the order the UFC wanted to do it. . .
“People at middleweight, they need to watch out too. I might slide on one of y’all by the end of the year.”
A move to middleweight could be highly productive for Woodley, after all, the two men poised to fight for the title next are both former welterweights. Kelvin Gastelum had a successful run at 170 pounds, when he could make the weight, and current champion Robert Whittaker began his career winning the welterweight tournament on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. In fact, Whittaker’s last loss was to the man Woodley mauled twice over, Stephen Thompson, and Woodley already owns a win over Gastelum in a bout the King’s MMA product missed weight by 10 pounds for. Whittaker and Gastelum face each other at UFC 234 for “Bobby Knuckles’” 185-pound title, and with no crystal clear contender lined up, Woodley thinks he could fit in nicely.
“Why not?” asked Woodley. “What better year? Wipe out the division clean, welterweight, and go up there and either beat ‘Fatsum’ up again or take out Robert Whittaker. They’re both welterweights anyway, they just don’t know how to cut weight.”
Of course, Woodley has been seeking big opportunities like this since winning the title at UFC 201, but they have, so far, eluded him. At various points in time, Woodley has called for fights with Conor McGregor, Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, and Michael Bisping, all without success. But if he can defend his welterweight title two more times this year, Woodley believes that the UFC may finally have to give him his due and he may finally break through as the superstar he believes himself to be.
“At the end of the day, what is the fight for?” Woodley said. “Do you want me to fight more? I want to fight more. Do you want me to become this superstar? I am a superstar. I just need the push it, I need the machine to get behind me a little bit more, and from the conversations I had, I believe that’s going to happen this year. Whooping up Usman, whooping up Colby, and then finishing out with one more fight at the end of the year, I think that’s gonna be a great year for me. It’ll be the first time I’m up for Fighter of the Year, so that’s what I’m excited about.”
125. T.J. Dillashaw: ‘I bet I make weight easier’ than Henry Cejudo at UFC on ESPN+
Goals. Jiu-jitsu ace Gordon Ryan says ‘ultimate goal’ is to be ‘best in MMA’
The MMA Hour with Henry Cejudo, Gordon Ryan, and Gregor Gillespie.
T.J.’s media lunch scrum.
BTS with Cejudo.
Jon Jones’ PPV numbers vs. DC’s PPV numbers, a solid look into Dana’s mind.
Eurobash. Looking at the first event for the UFC’s new broadcast deal with ESPN.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
It was settled in less than 5 minutes.
.@dc_mma March 20 is coming up quick. Let’s settle this and get this fight on the books before you blow the candles out on that cake.— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) January 14, 2019
Backyards, boatyards, any kind of yard, Jorge doesn’t care.
@darrentill2 I hear you having the same probs I am trying to find someone to fight you in your backyard. I love fighting in other peoples backyards. I’m game if ufc can make it happen— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) January 14, 2019
Just to give you an idea of the mathematical approach to TJ Dillashaw’s weight cut, here is the algorithm his coach Sam Calavitta used to get him there. I won’t pretend to know what it means, but Sam told me there’s a chance TJ could go to bed the night before weigh-in on weight. pic.twitter.com/rE2ZjyaPiQ— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) January 14, 2019
Amanda not gonna revisit featherweight?
My next fight finally been announce. Fighting some kid that walks round dressed as a viking ♂️ https://t.co/EdTBtT8CUf— Dean Trueman (@DeanTrueman) January 14, 2019
Cowboy on his legacy.
TJ has a shoe.
View this post on Instagram
How cool is this?! I got to design my own sneaker !! (First Version Champ Edition) I've teamed up with @athletikan to release a white/gold inspired champ edition sneaker in the lead up to my superfight. Launching in February, only 200 pairs will be released and the first 100 people to purchase them using my link will receive a personally signed note from me. Join the waiting list for the drop via the link in my bio. #TJXATHLETIKAN
Jon is an odd duck.
Kyle Stewart (11-1) vs. Chance Rencountre (12-3); UFC Brooklyn, Jan. 19.
A.J. Agazarm (0-0) vs. Jesse Roberts (0-0); Bellator 214, Jan. 26.
Soren Bak (12-1) vs. Dean Trueman (10-4); Cage Warriors 103, March 9.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
I know UFC rankings are mostly butt, but Woodley being at #6 P4P is wild. He’s champ over the second best division, and has beat an incredible list of fighters. He should be behind Cormier and Jones. And maaaaaybe Khabib.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
How will Woodley do at 185?
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