It’s a tale as old as time: a fighter comes from humble beginnings, rises through the ranks, and then summits the mountain, earning fame and making more money than he’d ever dream of, only to squander his newfound riches just a few years later. And while it may not be that severe for him, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley admits that he himself has had to stare this cliche in the face since losing his title last year.
Speaking with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Monday, Woodley revealed that in his time as champion, he spent lavishly and now that he’s no longer champion he’s gone “back to basics”.
“I blew through a lot of f*cking money, man,” Woodley said. “A lot. A lot of money. And I was jewelry and VIP and all these experiences, all these things that came with the championship life. You really, when you come from where I come from, you never imagine making that type of money, you never imagine being in that type of position. You work hard for it – and I didn’t get there by accident because I was busting my ass - but nobody taught me finance. Everybody taught me 1+1 is 2. That’s math. That ain’t finance. That ain’t wealth, that ain’t investing, that ain’t saving, that ain’t tax. That’s basically: you made money and, f*cking, you spend it. Because when I was growing up, we spent it when it came in. My mom’s check was already cut up, it was done before she even got it. She had to pick which utility bills was not gonna be on that, that month. And it was something that I didn’t recognize, as a kid, that it wasn’t normal. I thought everybody had to do that.
“So, when you started making money? I bought, like, seven cars and, f*cking, two houses, and all these trips, and nobody ever lifted a f*cking hand when we was at a restaurant, 10-15 people went to dinner. And I was going to VIP clubs and all this sh*t, like, every other week and I just imagined making that amount of money for a very long time and they very quickly said, ‘Poof! Damn! You gonna tell me, March 3rd, that this is different? It’s not the same?’ And it’s just a lesson learned.”
Before losing his title to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 last year, Woodley had spent three years as the welterweight champion, enjoying the financial incentives that come with holding a UFC title by fighting on four PPV events and making points on the buys. Now, Woodley is set to face Leon Edwards at a Fight Night event in London and the dramatic swing in compensation has him hungry to get back to the top. It also has him reflecting on the financial incentive structure of MMA and how that affects fighter actions.
“This f*cking division is getting so corny, and it’s starting to irk me so bad,” Woodley said. “I just really need to come back and try to f*ck everybody up. I’m so annoyed with everyone. When I get to that point, it’s a very, very dangerous point...
“Who makes the most money in our sport? Not the world champion Kamaru Usman,” Woodley said. “[Jorge] Masvidal, he’s finally making his paydays. He’s at the top of the list now. So are the Diaz brothers, so is Conor McGregor. Some of these people have never had a belt. Cowboy Cerrone just earned a big payday, never been remotely close to a world title in the UFC. When you look at guys like Demetrious Johnson when he was pound-for-pound and he was making less money than Joanna Jedrzejczyk. . . In no other sport are you going to see Steph Curry making less than somebody because they talking crap and wear a fly suit to the presser.”
Woodley is not wrong. Of the people generally considered to be the biggest stars in the sport, only Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jon Jones are holding world titles. That being said, when Woodley was champion he continually called for title defenses against the likes of Conor McGregor, Nick Diaz, and even Nate Diaz which may not be exactly the same as what Woodley is lamenting here but is certainly in the neighborhood of it. But that’s one more for Woodley. Now the former champion is just focused on assaulting the entire welterweight division to prove a point, and in the process he may just make some more money doing so.
“Right now my goal is to really just focus on winning and just proving that I’m capable of so much more,” Woodley said. “And the good thing about me is I haven’t even peaked yet. I haven’t peaked as a professional. I’m looking back at some of these fights and a Leon Edwards, a Kamaru Usman, a Colby Covington, none of those guys are going to make me that much more of a great than a Carlos Condit, a Robbie Lawler, than a Josh Koscheck, than a Dong Hyun Kim. People that are going to put my name into the record books are the people I’ve already defeated. This sh*t is just personal now.”
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Conor’s worst fights.
Izzy talking Kobe and training for UFC 248.
Woodley’s latest music video.
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SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Well played, Jorge.
Honored to have received a Grammy for my hit. Thank you all that appreciate my work and stay tuned for next album “ Dont be a Beta “ w/ two hit tracks “ Too Much Man For You “ and “Who” https://t.co/LmgwL1zClG— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) January 27, 2020
Coming for Yoel.
Didn’t know how to convey to @JuliaBudd when interviewing her after her heartbreaking loss to @criscyborg how AWESOME she has been as the @BellatorMMA featherweight Champion. I know the loss hurts right now, but you have so much to be proud of and still have so far to go. RESPECT— Big John McCarthy (@JohnMcCarthyMMA) January 27, 2020
Love you John https://t.co/c3dbgJ59ce— Julia Budd (@JuliaBudd) January 27, 2020
MMA is a ruthless sport.
I currently live in a small travel trailer for this exact reason. Only way to save money until you’re making the big bucks https://t.co/kg0MOk2AFQ— Jessy Jess (@missjessyjess) January 28, 2020
This means he sweats a lot.
I am the Patrick Ewing of MMA trivia.— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) January 27, 2020
Paul Daley (42-17-2) vs. Sabah Homasi (13-8); Bellator 241, March 13.
Jai Herbert (10-1) vs. Marc Diakiese (14-3); UFC London, Match 21.
Jack Marshman (23-9) vs. Kevin Holland (16-5); UFC London, Match 21.
Aspen Ladd (9-1) vs. Julianna Pena (9-3); UFC Columbus, March 28.
Mackenzie Dern (7-1) vs. Ariane Carnelossi (12-2); UFC Lincolm, April 25.
Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.
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