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Tyron Woodley prefers MMA fight with Dan Hardy, says boxing ‘would be letting him off the hook’

Tyron Woodley wouldn’t mind a fight with Dan Hardy — but they can leave the boxing gloves in the gym.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour on Wednesday, the former UFC welterweight champion addressed rumors of a potential bout with Hardy following comments from his fellow UFC veteran in which Hardy stated that he had signed a contract to box Woodley sometime in 2022.

Woodley was reluctant to publicize Hardy’s claims, but mentioned that if the two were to fight it might be more suitable for the familiar confines of the cage.

“I don’t even want to give Dan Hardy the clout,” Woodley said. “I want to say some bullsh*t about him, but I really don’t want to give him the clout. One, who gives a f*ck about a dyed-up mohawk right now. Stop dude, you f*cking 90. Get the dye off, you not ‘The Outlaw’ no more. You ain’t swung at a face in 10 years, so stop with The Outlaw sh*t.

“They were talking to me about him and there was some good money out there. There’s been a lot of good money out there for a lot of different fights, so I’m going to look at it, but I was thinking about the boxing thing with Dan. I think it would be letting him off the hook. If I fought him in MMA it would be a little elbow, a little knee, a little b*tch slap. I need some hands open so I can do some of that. I don’t know, potentially we’ll see.”

Woodley was involved in two of the most talked-about combat sports events of 2021, a pair of boxing matches against YouTube star Jake Paul in which Woodley came out on the losing end both times. The buzz ahead of the first fight was greater due to Woodley being a replacement for Tommy Fury for the second fight, but the result of the second fight — a huge knockout win for Paul — generated plenty of post-fight chatter.

Win or lose, Woodley believes he’s led the way with his ambitious ideas, not just by taking a crossover fight with Paul but also in his entertainment ventures, and it’s for that reason that veterans like Hardy are now interested in doing business with him.

“There was some talking to [Hardy’s team] because a lot of these dudes — and he’s not the only one, a lot of these dudes have piggybacked off of me — what I did in MMA put me in position where I can do certain things in film, music, and other fights in other organizations. I’m the only real free agent out here to be honest. Who else can do whatever the f*ck they want to do, when they want to do it, fight whoever they want to fight, no contract, nobody holding me down, and I’m making a lot of money?

“So people are gonna hate me. They’re gonna hate on me. They’re gonna see my opportunities, but they haven’t gotten the wisdom yet. My goals and what God has for me and the windows He opened, you will never be able to access it and you can never close my window. So when people look at you and compare themselves, you’re not supposed to compare yourself to another. Don’t look at what I got, look at what you were supposed to get, look at your vision. I think when guys take their eyes off of their vision and what the f*ck they’re supposed to do and start looking at another man; one, it’s suspect. Two, it’s kind of like you’re taking your mind off of your goal. Don’t look at what I did and want the payday I got. Ain’t none of y’all been no five-time world champions, none of them. So what are y’all talking about?

“Dan Hardy was trying to teach me to be a champion forever. He never held the belt. Other people were mad because they were in my division and they never held the belt. I did it when it was not cute. I did it when it was only No. 1 contenders. I did it when it was the toughest division in the world and I was calling to fight the best in his prime and I never got that opportunity, so now that God works in mysterious ways, now this is my time, this is my moment, and a lot of people got a lot to say. And I just keep working.”

Woodley won the UFC welterweight title at UFC 201 in July 2016 with a first-round knockout of Robbie Lawler and successfully defended it four consecutive times (including one majority draw) before losing it to Kamaru Usman three years later. During his run at the top, Woodley was vocal about wanting to share the cage with marquee names like Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz, but those fights never materialized, and he instead fought top contenders Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia, and Darren Till.

Having received plenty of criticism throughout his career for his matchmaking choices and pursuits outside of MMA, Woodley has developed a thick skin and he looks to boxing legend Muhammad Ali for inspiration.

“I was watching the Ali movie with my son and I was watching it and it was — not to compare myself to Ali — but I really did my things the way I wanted to do it and people didn’t appreciate it,” Woodley said. “They never appreciated him at that time. But I was a champion, I remember [Ali] saying this, ‘I’m not gonna be the champion the way you wanted me.’ I’m not gonna be the champion that Usman wanted me to be, I’m not gonna be the champion that Hardy wanted me to be, Dana White wanted me to be, I was who I wanted to f*cking be and I did it and I beat guys when they thought I was gonna lose. I was on top no matter what people threw at me.”