Tyron Woodley will give credit where credit is due to Kamaru Usman on a great performance in their fight back in March but he’s not willing to concede that he just got outclassed by a better fighter.
In fact, the former UFC welterweight champion puts the onus on himself for a miserable showing that night where he failed to offer much resistance to Usman over the course of five rounds.
“When you watch the Kamaru Usman fight, I don’t have to watch it. It was a silhouette of Tyron in the Octagon or something happened when I jumped up and stomped down, I think my spirit left my body,” Woodley said during a Q&A with fans in Vancouver. “I can give him credit for what he did. He stayed focused, he executed but we all know that wasn’t Tyron Woodley.
“So I don’t have to go back and watch the film and say the chain wrestling [affected me]. I’m a Division I All-American [wrestler], not Division II. I’m not knocking that but it’s a way different level. When you think about striking, when you think about my resume, it’s not that he did something so great that I couldn’t keep up with. It’s just the fact that it’s one of those nights when you walk out there, everything feels perfect and you get close to your opponent and the battery pack is snatched out of your back. That’s really what I felt like.”
For all the things Usman did right that night, Woodley can’t help but feel like he didn’t give him much of an opponent that night and it ultimately cost him the UFC welterweight title.
“If I look at the way the fight went, I don’t think I won a round in that fight, if that was me fighting me, I would have knocked my ass out,” Woodley said. “The only thing I can take away is that I had to go back and rebuild, sharpen my tools, get that hunger back, that’s where I feel like I’m at right now.”
Unfortunately for Woodley, his bad night at the office cost him the welterweight title he so coveted, which is why he’s that much more determined to get it back.
Losing a lopsided decision to Usman the first time around isn’t deterring Woodley but rather motivating him to prove that loss was an anomaly rather than a mismatch or that he was distracted heading into the fight.
“Kamaru Usman skill set wise on paper, I’m a nightmare for him every day of the week,” Woodley said. “What happened in the Octagon is one, I never make excuses. I walked into four world title fights with the weight of the world on my back, personal issues, injuries, I never healed from the injury before, but you guys never hear about that but the second I go out there and I fight and I’m not the characteristic Tyron Woodley that you see, immediately it’s music that’s distracting me. It’s movies that’s distracting me.
“I’ve been doing this same thing forever, you guys just never hear about it.”
As far as what he would do different in a potential rematch, Woodley isn’t going to try to reinvent the wheel against Usman but rather just fight in the way that made him a four-time defending welterweight champion the first time around.
“Just fight,” Woodley answered. “Like when I lost to Rory MacDonald, you didn’t hear me make complaints. Same thing with Jake Shields, same thing with Usman. You’ve got to take your hat off because no matter what circumstance prevented me from going out there and doing what I needed to do, that person knew he was fighting one of the greatest welterweights of all time, knew on paper it was a very difficult matchup, knew the things that I was able to do and capable of in my career and went in and executed.
“All I have to do is fight. I don’t have to do nothing different. I wouldn’t even watch the film. There’s no point. Just go out there and fight.”