“It’s a race, man,” Woodley told MMAjunkie Radio. “We talk about this all the time, me and Robbie in particular. Robbie’s a lot like me – we don’t have to hate you. … If it gets to the point where one of us has the belt and we have to sit down and talk … those are bridges we have to cross when we get there. But right now, it’s a race. Nobody has brought home the UFC gold at American Top Team. It’s our job to bring home that gold belt.
“Me, Hector (Lombard), Robbie, Jason High, we’re racing. It’s not a secret.”
If Woodley (12-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) was looking for a statement win after his June loss to Jake Shields, a split-decision setback that many believed he won, then he certainly made his statement with authority against Koscheck (17-8 MMA, 15-8 UFC).
The win sent Woodley into the Honorable Mention list in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings
. (Lawler’s win over MacDonald sent him from HM to No. 11.)
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Woodley said of the win. “This is a guy who’s been around the sport forever. This was his 23rd (UFC) fight – I watched the dude on (‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Season 1). So it was a great honor to fight him and even better to do it on that card.”
The card was the UFC’s 20th anniversary show, and there were plenty of eyes on it. And when your right hand is splashed all over the highlight reels taking out one of the sport’s most well-known fighters, you’re going to start to creep up the charts quickly.
Woodley said getting the finish was important for him after his loss to Shields, and it also marked a new philosophy of getting out of his own head, so to speak.
“One thing I’m never lacking is heart, or skill, athleticism or hard work – anything that makes you a champion,” he said. “But sometimes I can overthink and overanalyze, and I was just praying to God that those changes were unleashed. That’s been the entire theme of my training camp that every fight, anybody after this – (the division is) in shambles right now. There might be some guys in the welterweight division acting like the linemen for me, making that big hole so I can sprint through. I could be a lot closer to a title than what people realize. I just thank God for giving me the courage to go out there and let it all out and not hold back.”
And if that means having to fight a teammate? Well, Woodley seems to believe those issues would get sorted out. Hey, families fight, too.
“One thing that separates American Top Team from other teams is the family aspect,” he said. “You can’t substitute it. You can’t fake it. Family is family, and you know when it’s real and you know when it’s not.”