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Coach: Tyron Woodley doesn’t get enough credit for title fight schedule

Tyron Woodley
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last time fans saw Tyron Woodley fight, he left the Octagon with a fresh defeat on his record, having dropped his welterweight championship to Kamaru Usman.

That was back in March. He was next booked to rematch Robbie Lawler at UFC Minneapolis, but a right hand injury forced him out of that contest and he is now eyeing a return at UFC 241 in August. In the meantime, “The Chosen One” has stayed on top of his outside-of-the-cage media ventures and is finding time to develop new skills, according to coach Duke Roufus.

At the highest levels of competition, fighters like Woodley often find themselves in accelerated training camps that emphasize game planning and weight maintenance over actual development. Roufus thinks that Woodley’s sabbatical could be a boon for him in the future.

“The nice thing about injuries is if you have the right perspective, you take an injury and it actually help you grow as an athlete,” Roufus told MMA Fighting. “What I like, everyone knows that he has an incredible right hand, well he’s been really focused on mastering his left hand. He spends a lot of time in L.A. with his film and music career and broadcasting, then he goes to a lot of training at Wild Card Boxing with coach Eric Brown and I noticed a substantial difference in his skill set when we got together during training.

“We had some fun sessions, very fruitful, very enjoyable, working on a lot of new things. That’s the positives he’s been getting from the injury.”

Roufus recently met up with Woodley at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas and he says the champ looks to be on track to fight again soon. It doesn’t sound like his team is in any rush to get him back into action though, especially given the schedule he kept during his reign as UFC champion.

Though Woodley has taken his fair share of criticism for being vocal about who he would have preferred to defend his title against, from July 2016 to July 2017 he competed in four title fights and each time came out as the champion. It’s a run that Roufus would like to see held in higher regard.

“I want to reiterate about Tyron, a lot of people don’t realize, we soldiered through back-to-back-to-back-to-back fights, right out of injury into short training camps,” Roufus said. “A lot of people sometimes don’t give Tyron his due credit. He fought four title fights in 364 days. The only guy to break that record is Jon Jones. Those were back-to-back fights, we were doing six-week training camps for five-round fights, which is kind of an anomaly in our sport. Most people want to take a longer training camp for a longer fight and I’m very proud of that body of work that we put together through Woodley, coach Din (Thomas), and myself.

“He was on just a crazy schedule, so I like this little layoff. It’s helping Tyron grow not only as a fighter, but as a person. And I’m proud of him too. You only live once, so I’m happy he’s pursuing music, acting, etc., he’s just a very happy guy right now.”

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