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Tyron Woodley looking for the ‘Odell Beckham Jr. of MMA’ when judging PFL Challengers Series

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Tyron Woodley knows there’s more to mixed martial arts than just what happens inside the cage.

As much as wins and losses are the ultimately deciding factor when it comes to any competition, the former UFC champion understands that a superior skill set doesn’t always lead to a prosperous career for any athlete.

That’s why he’s looking at the total package when serving as a judge for the upcoming launch of the PFL Challengers Series where he’ll be sitting alongside fellow fighters such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Vitor Belfort and Randy Couture as well as celebrities such as Wiz Khalifa and Ray Lewis, who will all help select the one athlete from each card to receive a contract from the promotion.

“I’m just looking for the person if they have ‘it,’” Woodley told MMA Fighting. “When I say ‘it,’ I can guarantee you I can find on skill level alone, I can find maybe five receivers [in the NFL] that are the same skill level as Odell Beckham Jr. They can catch, they can run. Same 40 [yard dash] time. Same vertical. Same reach. You give them the same quarterback, the same route, 9 out of 10 times, they make the same catch. Maybe they can make it one handed but [Odell] is different. He’s special.

“I feel like you can’t just be a good fighter anymore if you want to be that guy, if you want to be the No. 1 guy.”

Woodley has seen it firsthand throughout his entire career that truly successful fighters are often times a combination of incredible talent and a magnetic personality that draws people to watch them compete.

There’s a reason why some fighters can even go as far as becoming champions without really making a major impact while some others become global superstars.

It’s that rare blend that Woodley hopes to find when he’s assessing the fighters on the PFL Challengers Series, which kicks off Friday on FUBO TV.

“I just feel like this being the first Challengers Series for them, I feel like somebody is going to emerge that has both of those and we’re going to say we found him,” Woodley said. “Everybody likes the credit to discover somebody before they were big. I like it. ‘Rampage’ likes it. Vitor likes it. Wiz likes it. Wiz had Ty Dolla $ign. Vitor had that guy Cesar [Ferreira] and after The Ultimate Fighter show, ‘Rampage’ had a whole plethora of guys around him. Randy Couture, shout out to Xtreme Couture, they’re killing everybody and Xtreme Couture is Randy’s gym.

“So everybody likes to be able to say ‘I told you so and I saw it’ and we all like to think we have that eye. We’re going to find somebody that’s tremendous in all areas. That’s what I look for because I really feel like it’s such a diverse group of judges.”

Each Challengers Series event will feature four fights with only one contract handed out at the end of every event with some fighters moving onto the PFL season with others inked to developmental deals to allow more time before actually entering the season long format.

For those who make it directly into the PFL, an opportunity awaits them for a chance to become a millionaire by winning at the end of the season.

All other enticements aside, Woodley knows that money talks and that kind of format will definitely draw a lot of attention for prospects interested in joining the PFL.

“We may find the Odell of MMA — when you put a million dollars on the line, you get a lot of people to come forward,” Woodley said. “People that may have been thinking of other places to go but when you put a quick million up front to the top, they ain’t going to be making that anywhere for a long time. So people are going to come with everything they’ve got. They’re going to put their best foot forward. This is your once chance. I’m telling you.

“It is known UFC champions do not make a million bucks. Some of them do, most of them don’t. So when you think about that and you offer that up front, you better do everything in your power. You better do every single thing because this could be the moment that sets you apart. It puts you on that platform. All that hard work you did is going to pay off. You get to do all that and you got a bag.”

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