Sean Woodson had a successful UFC debut in October and has been trying to get back to work. It just hasn’t been easy.
The road back to the octagon almost took another detour when his originally scheduled opponent Kyle Nelson was forced to withdraw from this Saturday night’s 150-pound catchweight bout at UFC on ESPN 12. Luckily, a replacement was found in the returning Julian Erosa.
“I didn’t think it would be this hard to get a fight, but it has been,” Woodson told MMA Fighting while appearing on What the Heck.
“They didn’t give me a name but I had an offer for February—on that Jon Jones card—and it was on a week’s notice like my Contender Series fight. I told myself I would never do that again because cutting all the weight kind of jacked my body up a little bit so I had to pass up on that.”
While there have been other fight offers for Woodson, finding an opponent to sign the dotted line has turned out to be a big obstacle.
Reports circulated early last month that Woodson had agreed to step in on short notice to fight Jared Gordon at the UFC’s May 16 event after Matt Sayles was forced out with an injury. “The Sniper” had agreed, but Gordon decided not to move forward with the matchup, as he explained to MMA Fighting.
Woodson revealed that multiple opponents—for one reason or another—declined matchups.
“My manager said that two other guys turned me down, and then the whole instance with Mr. Gordon on May 16, that fell through as well.”
It’s a frustrating position for the St. Louis native as he is looking to climb the ladder of one of the UFC’s deepest divisions. For Woodson, he believes he’ll still have a hard time finding opponents after this Saturday. With time, he plans to leave his fellow 145ers no choice but to say yes.
“Yeah, I do. I think I am gonna have a hard time getting fights at featherweight,” Woodson explained. “I’m the tallest in the division and that presents a problem to all of these guys. I’m not sitting here saying everybody’s scared of me, or anything like that. I just think that people see a threat with my length, my height and my skillset.
“I think once I start picking up a couple more wins, extend my undefeated record, the UFC is full of killers so there’ll be some guys that will want to take me out and want to take my 0.
Erosa returns to the UFC after an 0-3 run in his first stint that ended following a third-round knockout loss to Julio Arce in May 2019. “Juicy J” picked up a first-round submission win over A.J. Bryant for Washington regional promotion CageSport in February to get back on track.
With a short notice opponent switch, Woodson doesn’t plan on changing very much. He’s just happy he gets to still compete on Saturday after an eight-month layoff from competition.
“I like any fight,” Woodson stated. “I just like to fight. I’ll fight anybody, man. I love this fight because, like I said, I had several opponents fall out before and this guy signed, stepped up and wants to get in there with me. I’m thrilled about that.”
Woodson doesn’t have a predcition, per se, when it comes to his sophomore appearance this Saturday. But he feels that if he just makes it into the octagon, that will be enough to keep his undefeated record in tact.
“Just by me stepping foot in that cage, I’ll keep my unblemished record,” Woodson said.
The last place Woodson expected to fight in his second promotional appearance was the same venue he earned a UFC contract less than a year ago. He hopes to have a quick turnaround following this weekend’s fight and hopes he can do so following the July trip to Abu Dhabi.
“It was the last place I expected to fight, but I’m thrilled to be fighting at the APEX,” Woodson said. “Everyone’s making a big hoorah about that ‘Fight Island,’ but man, they can have that. I don’t want no part of that. It’s too far of a flight for me.
“I’ll wait until August and come back to the APEX.”