Tyron Woodley already had plenty of reasons to knock out Jake Paul in their rematch on Dec. 19, but an extra $500,000 bonus is like icing on the cake.
“At the end the of the day, you put a bag on your own head,” Woodley told MMA Fighting during a media conference call on Thursday. “Sh*t, I’m completely all about taking that free money. I had plans on doing that anyway, but if he wants to entice me a little bit more.
“You don’t offer a kid from Ferguson half a bag to go out there and do what he wanted to do anyway. So it does put motivation. You don’t put a bounty on your own f*cking head and think I’m not going to take it.”
As part of his contract for replacing Tommy Fury on the Showtime boxing card in Tampa, Fla., the former UFC champion was offered the extra money if he could finish Paul inside the distance on Dec. 18.
While Woodley definitely wants to avenge his split decision loss to Paul from September — a fight he truly believes he won — he can’t deny that money is always going to be a driving factor for him. The former UFC welterweight king refuses to believe fighters when they try to down play a financial windfall as motivation.
“For sure, I’m motivated by money,” Woodley said. “I’m motivated by legacy. I’m motivated by greatness. I’m motivated by redemption. So when people say it’s not about the money for me, they’re f*cking lying. Why would you be prizefighting if you didn’t want to get a prize?
“Sometimes it’s about the principle. When you feel like you’re at a certain level, you feel like you’re at a certain point of your life and your career, you want the bag to match where you feel like you’re at, it’s just kind of a personal matter behind it. Definitely it’s additional motivation. You’ll see me walking away with another $500,000.”
When it comes to the fight itself, Woodley accepted the rematch against Paul with just two weeks to prepare, but he’s quick to dispel the notion that he’s somehow at a disadvantage.
With hopes to compete at least four times in 2022, Woodley was already training while simultaneously working on a film. But he guarantees there will be no excuses once he steps into the ring.
“I’m going to look like the better conditioned fighter, I promise you that,” he said. “When you watch this fight, it won’t look like I stepped in on last minute notice. It won’t look like he was the person that was preparing and in shape and I just jumped in for a bag or jumped in to save the card. It’s going to look like I’m going to be in better shape just like it was the first time.
“I was the one walking him down. I was the one that was really putting him against the ropes. He was the one huffing and puffing.”
Perhaps the biggest advantage Woodley will have in his rematch against Paul is the knowledge that he retained from the first fight. When Paul faced him back in September, the social influencer turned boxer had less than 10 minutes of total time spent in the ring after he demolished his first three opponents by knockout. Only one opponent made it past the first round.
Paul then spent eight rounds and 24 minutes with Woodley and gutted out a hard-fought victory by split decision. But that also gave “The Chosen One” a much better idea of what to expect.
“I didn’t have a lot of footage to break down on Jake,” Woodley said. “I didn’t have a lot of sparring sessions. I didn’t have a lot of fights. Most of his fights ended fairly quickly so now I’ve actually been in there with him. I felt his power. I felt the things that he did well and I also felt the things that I did to him that he didn’t like so much.
“Now I’ve got eight rounds to break down, make adjustments, we all know nobody’s better at rematches than me.”
Of course, Woodley is perceptive and honest enough to understand the mistakes he made against Paul, which allowed the 24-year-old Ohio native to escape with the win on the judges’ scorecards.
Acknowledging those shortcomings and then fixing what was broken is a huge part of what Woodley believes will lead to a much different result this time around.
“I felt like there was times where I made him miss and I didn’t make him pay,” Woodley said. “I’m not going to go in there and technique him. I feel like there was times that he could have had more stern consequence for even trying to hit me. That’s one thing that I can pick out.
“I feel like I won the fight anyway. I kind of watched the fight for the first time yesterday and I won rounds four through eight. That’s five of the eight rounds. I don’t understand how I can win four, five, six, seven and eight and he still won the fight. Even that without counting a 10-8 round in the fourth round. Add those little small tweaks in there, a little more volume and I think you’ll see me get the knockout.”
Woodley has tasted defeat previously in his MMA career, but there may have been no tougher pill to swallow than falling to Paul in his professional boxing debut.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold, and Woodley can’t deny that he’s heated when it comes to Paul holding a win over him. He can’t wait to right that wrong when they meet again.
“The fact that Jake Paul can walk around and say he beat me f*cking just boils my skin and blood and everything inside of my body,” Woodley said. “I’m trying to go out there and make it clear that I’m the better fighter, I’m the harder puncher and I’m the professional out here.”