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Morning Report: Tyron Woodley says he’s ‘still the champion in my mind’, ‘seeking performances’ in 2020 to get back to title

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last few months have been hectic for the UFC as it has struggled to find its footing amid the coronavirus. But after postponing a number of events, UFC President Dana White hopes to have things back on track with a planned stacked fight card for UFC 250 on May 9th. Whether White will be able to pull off the event while a global pandemic is still up in the air, but if he can’t, it won’t be for lack of willing fighters.

Take former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, for instance. Woodley is one of the most successful champions in recent years and was admittedly concerned about White’s plans for a “Fight Island” during these uncertain times, but the former champion is ready to step up for a fight in a few weeks, and would in fact, prefer to do so.

“I want to fight sooner than later,” Woodley told TMZ Sports recently. “One, because I think there’s a chance that a fight could go down May 9th, and then they may have in their mind, ‘Okay, May 9th we’re gonna do a card, May 16th we’re gonna do a card,’ and just kind of keep doing a card every weekend. At any point, the government could come down and smack down and say, ‘No, stop.’ ESPN, Disney, whoever. So I feel like for me, fighting May 9th makes the most sense.”

Woodley of course, was one of the fighters who had his plans disrupted by the coronavirus. “The Chosen One” was expected to face fourth-ranked contender Leon Edwards at UFC London on March 21st, however their fight was cancelled when the event was indefinitely postponed. Then there was talk of Woodley and his old nemesis Colby Covington perhaps squaring off in a short-notice fight in the near future, but after some public back-and-forth, Woodley says he’s completely over that fight because it’s the same song and dance with Covington every time: ‘Chaos’ talks a big game but never backs it up.

“Originally I was supposed to fight Leon Edwards,” Woodley said. “To be honest, originally I was supposed to fight Colby but in reality, I should’ve been fighting Usman. There’s no way you can be a world title holder for three years, have four title defenses, have one bad night - we’re all gonna have a bad night - one bad night for whatever reason, and not get an immediate rematch. I feel like what I did in the sport should’ve warranted that. Even if it wasn’t a good performance.

“I don’t even remember the fight, to be honest. So I feel like I should’ve fought Usman off the flip as a rematch. Then after that I was supposed to fight Colby. But if you think about it, Usman was never in position to fight me. It was always supposed to be Colby. Colby had the interim belt from RDA [Rafael dos Anjos] . . . and then he didn’t want to fight so [Darren] Till go the ass whooping. Till wasn’t in position either. He had missed weight against Wonderboy and it was a split decision victory that I thought actually Wonderboy had won. So he got the nod because Colby wasn’t ready. And then Usman got the nod because Colby wasn’t ready. And then Leon Edwards got booked because Colby wasn’t ready. The classic theme and the common denominator is that Colby’s never gonna be ready. He’s never gonna be ready to fight me.

“It’s reasons why he’s asking the UFC for two to five million dollars to fight me and he’s never made that collectively in his entire career. But to fight me, he needs to be paid so much more because he knows he’s gonna lose. He’s gonna talk all this shit, he’s gonna get embarrassed, he’s gonna get hurt, he’s gonna lose, and then he wants to have enough money in the bank account just in case nobody wants to f*cking buy this gimmick anymore. So I’m trying to move past that. If that fight happens, fine, but I’m not talking about it anymore.”

The UFC has been targeting a fight between Woodley and Covington for years now but the bout has proven elusive to even book, much less make happen. Now, with yet another instance of nothing substantive occurring on that front, Woodley is focusing all his energies on reclaiming the title he still feels like is his. Unfortunately for Woodley, he’s going to have some work to do. Usman didn’t just beat Woodley, he swept him - winning all five rounds on all three judges’ scorecards and earning a 10-8 round from two judges. It was the kind of complete domination that makes a rematch a tough sell, even where a former champion is concerned. So Woodley has another plan to make it happen: he’s going to dominate whoever the UFC puts in front of him.

“I don’t even care at this point,” Woodley said when asked who he wanted to fight next. “I’m seeking performances. I want to go out and I want to put three or four crazy performances in this year where people are like ‘What the f*ck did he do to Tyron? Why did he whoop his ass like that?’ That’s all I’m thinking about, so it really doesn’t matter at this point. At this point, I’m willing to fight anybody because at the end of the day everybody’s good, everybody’s tough, and when you’re the champion you don’t get a chance to pick who you fight. So right now I feel like I had a bad night, but I’m still the champion in my mind. I’ve still got the mentality, I’ve still got the skillset, so I’ve got to align where my mind’s at to actually getting back to that belt. So whatever fights get me to that belt, that’s what I’m doing.

“It’s not really a vendetta against Usman. Usman just beat me that night. I don’t have nothing personal against anybody. Whoever is wearing the strap when it’s time for me to go, that’s who I want to fight.”


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Thanks for reading and see y’all tomorrow.



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